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DVD Review

DVD cover

Sherlock Holmes (2009)


Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams and Mark Strong
Warner Home Video
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 17 May 2010

On a quest to solve a string of mysterious and brutal murders, Sherlock Holmes and his trusted ally Watson plunge into a world of dark arts and startling new technologies, where logic, and a good right hook, are the best crime fighting weapons. Explosive action, baffling mystery and astonishing intrigue follow the two in a race to uncover and foil a terrifying plot that threatens to destroy the country...

Sherlock Holmes, as Guy Ritchie envisages it, may come as a bit of a surprise to some. Robert Downey, Jr.'s Holmes and Jude Law's Watson bear hardly any similarity to the typical movie and TV incarnations that have gone before. In fact, unless you've actually read the vast majority of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original books, then it's doubtful that you'll recognise the characters of Holmes and Watson at all here. This may prompt the casual viewer to question why on Earth this was released as a Sherlock Holmes mystery in the first place. However, those that know the books will spot plenty of nods to Doyle's original work. Holmes provides many quotes from the original books, as well as using familiar clue solving. For example, the scene in which Holmes gathers vital information by examining a dead man's watch is very similar to actions that unfold in The Sign of the Four.

The movie opens in 1891 London. Holmes and Watson are drawing to a close their latest investigation: the ritualistic murder of young women across London. They arrest Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), just as he's about to claim his latest victim. Blackwood seems to be dabbling in the dark arts and when he is sentenced and hung, his link to the occult seems confirmed when his tomb is smashed from the inside and his body appears to have vanished. Watson is a little concerned as it was he, as the resident doctor, who confirmed Blackwood's death after he was cut down from the scaffolding.

Holmes and Watson must track down Blackwood, if he is indeed still alive, and prevent him from bringing forth the prophecies predicted in the Bible that will bring about the Apocalypse.

At it's heart, this movie is an old fashioned summer blockbuster designed primarily to entertain and not to be taken too seriously. Holmes and Watson bicker and squabble like two young children and it is this relationship which provides much of the movie's comic relief. But I have to admit that while I found Downey, Jr.'s Holmes to be interesting and well handled, I was a little less sure of Law's Watson - but then I've never really been a fan of Law's very limited acting range. Still, as a low key character, he comes across well enough here.

Extras are incredibly poor on this DVD. All we get is a short feature: Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented (13 min, 32 sec).

So as a light hearted bit of nonsense, Sherlock Holmes delivers comedy, action and adventure. To be honest you can't really ask for much more.


Darren Rea

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