Sunday, February 28, 2010

Law is Sherlock's Ho(l)mie.

I'd read my first Sherlock Holmes novel,"The Hound of Baskervilles" when I was 10. And even though I was awe-struck by the sheer skill and astute observation that defined Sherlock Holmes, Baskervilles remained my last Holmes till much later in life. So while I cannot claim to be his biggest fan, I was impressed enough as a 10-year-old, as is the case with the inherent innocence of age, to believe there is as much reality in Conandoyle's fiction as there was in being thrown out for reading his book during class hours.

Guy Ritchie's version is probably Arthur Conandoyle's version '+' not-so-healthy amounts of Nicotine rushes '+' a few joints here and there '+' one ecstasy in the intermission '+' one three hour acid-trip '+' one jab in the posterior '+' one kick in the groin.

Yet another childhood hero goes down the CGI route, with the innocence of childhood reading fast meeting a gut-wrenching end. Guy Ritchie's film is filled with sensational sights, over-the-top characters and a desperate struggle atop Tower Bridge, which is still under construction (A great case of attention to detail, mind you!). While it's likely to give a tremendous boost to Holmes' fan-following, the 'Baker Street (Ir)Regulars' will settle for going back to the books.

If you wondering why this reviewer has not got into the plot of the film, we pray you'll need to wait some more. Ritchie's Holmes requires an introduction for movie watchers who haven't read the book; even those who have, given that Ritchie has converted the great detective and his 'partner-in-crime' into the boxing and martial-arts champions of London. While that is not so far away from the series, with Holmes being an expert in Baritsu, the portrayal is ridiculous, yet entertaining. The audience are introduced to the Detective's deductive powers when the man envisions his fight sequences in super slow-mo and dead-pan mental commentary, and executes it to the last broken rib in whip-lash reality.

The plot challenges the viewers' intelligence, never mind the detectives own. The villainous Lord Blackwood, arrested and executed for voodoo practices in the opening scenes, somehow engineers his return from the dead and hatches a nefarious plot to rule the British Empire. While this would send the great Sir Arthur Conandoyle rolling big-time in his grave, and smoking it up too; he may not really criticise Ritchie's character sketches and the settings of London in the late 19th century.

Also the movie's dialogues are very characteristically Ritchie, with several great references to Conandoyle's stories, which keep the Sherlock Holmes fans happy. Downey provides his character the brains, the wit and the thinking-on-the-feet it deserves, and Law erases our own perception of Watson as a mere sidekick, by being a a fleet, dapper and a womanising Dr. Watson, who also enjoys a bit of an intimate 'bro'mance with his good friend and colleague.

Sherlock Holmes will continue to remain a must-read among school kids, and the greatest service this movie could do is to get kids today to go beyond Harry Potter in the world of literature. And the fans who will revisit all the novels and the short stories will picture Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in their minds. We're guessing that the character of Sherlock HOlmes which has survived among other things, great illness, substance abuse, a broken heart, a few scandals and abject failure to commercialise, will surely survive this new Avataar of SXF and CGI, and continue to be bored by a sedentary life.

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