So the a trailer hit today for the new Sherlock Holmes movie (the serious one – not the comedy one).
It’s…interesting. While there’s nothing immediately wrong with it (there are quite a few things RIGHT with it, actually), I can’t help but feel…I dunno…empty after watching it. I can’t explain this one – it’s like all the elements are there but something’s still not fulfilling all the requirements in my mental “SHERLOCK HOLMES” folder.
It might be because it’s such a departure from what we have come to expect from Holmes. Maybe that’s why it works – I don’t think many of us imagine Holmes as an action hero, but it seems to work in the short snippets shown here. I’ve never thought of Holmes as having washboard abs or Watson as being a steel-jawed badass, but again…here it is.
I recall when I first read about the casting, my initial reaction was “Cool! Downey Jr and Jude Law would make an awesome Watson and Holmes – wait – it’s the other way around? Oh. I guess that’s okay too.”
I think my biggest problem is the blurring of the lines between characters and what we should expect of them. Let’s talk blind impressions: I say “Sherlock Holmes”, you think “Intellectual, quirky, brilliant”, right? Okay, cool. Robert Downey Jr. fits that. So far, so good. I say “John Watson”, you think “who?” – I clarify, “as in elementary, my dear Watson”, you think “ah, right! Steadfast, loyal, sidekick.”
See, now we have a problem because Jude Law and his agent have been spending the last 5 years trying to convince me he’s a leading man, an intellectual, quirky, brilliant leading man. Not to mention, not only is he actually BRITISH, but he physically RESEMBLES all the classic Sherlock Holmes illustrations:
Do you think Jude Law knew which role they wanted him for when he signed the papers?
If he’s looking for a project in which he hopes to prove himself more of an action type than he did in “Sky Captain”, you’d think he’d choose a role that’s KNOWN for being an action hero – and furthermore, a role that doesn’t divvy up the action evenly between two roles…but more on that in a minute.
So now I’ve got TWO intellectual, quirky, brilliant types playing what are supposed to be two vastly different roles. Furthermore, when I see the trailer, it’s loaded with explosions, running, punching, shooting and rapid fire quips – none of which I associate with EITHER actor or the source material in general.
And nowhere in the trailer do I see any trace of anyone being brilliant at all – other than the characters and the narration repeatedly telling me that’s the case. I know it’s tough to get “brainy” across in a trailer, but how about some reaction shots of people being astonished by Holmes’ wit, detection skills or deductive reasoning? Instead, I’m seeing shot after shot of a shirtless Holmes kicking ass in a boxing ring. Even Downey Jr.s “hero shot”, where they summarize his character is from the boxing scene…I just don’t know what I’m supposed to think.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, meet Guy Ritchie
Overall, I think I’m left empty because what I’m being shown is only a Sherlock Holmes adventure insomuch as that’s what it’s called. But in reality, it may as well be James West and Artemus Gordon, Starsky and Hutch or Riggs and Murtaugh – actually, I take that back…with Lethal Weapon, I knew exactly what to expect from both characters and the casting was a perfect complement to those expectations.
But what do I know? Though it seems impossible now, maybe it’s brilliant. After all, if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth…right? Nancy Drew said that.