Downey Picks Up Sherlock Holmes' Magnifying Glass

Fictional detective Sherlock Holmes has been the topic of films some 200 times, and this weekend he's on the case again. The new movie Sherlock Holmes stars Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock. Jude Law is Dr. Watsonn.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And now for another fictional character who has appealed across generations, Sherlock Holmes has shown up in films some 200 times at last count, and this weekend he's on the case again.

Kenneth Turan has this review of the film with Robert Downey Jr. in the role.

KENNETH TURAN: There's a mystery at the heart of "Sherlock Holmes" and it's not the one the great master of detection has been called on to solve. It's the age-old question of how a film that has so many good things going for it can turn out to be solid but not spectacular.

We expect more when Robert Downey Jr. is in fine form as the world's greatest consulting detective. There's an excellent villain here as well, master criminal Lord Blackwood, a man who dabbles in the black arts, says enigmatic things like: death is only the beginning, and actually manages to come back from the grave.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sherlock Holmes")

Mr. JUDE LAW (Actor): (as Dr. John Watson): I pronounced the man dead myself.

Mr. ROBERT DOWNEY (Actor): (as Sherlock Holmes): What are the facts?

Mr. LAW: (as Dr. John Watson): You're not taking this seriously, are you, Holmes?

Mr. DOWNEY: (as Sherlock Holmes) Yes, as you should. It's a matter of professional integrity. No girl wants to marry a doctor who can't tell if a man's dead or not.

TURAN: Downey's Holmes is as much Victorian action hero as master deducer, a buff and muscular lad who likes to indulge in bare-knuckle brawling.

(Soundbite of fighting)

TURAN: In addition to creating a new personality for Holmes, the film wants to give more respect to the character of Holmes's wingman, Dr. John Watson. He's played by Jude Law and he now bickers with Holmes like Jack Lemmon fought with Walter Matthau in "The Odd Couple."

(Soundbite of movie, "Sherlock Holmes")

Mr. LAW: (as Dr. John Watson) I am psychologically disturbed.

Mr. DOWNEY: (as Sherlock Holmes) How so?

Mr. LAW: (as Dr. John Watson): Why else will I continually be led into situations where you deliberately withhold your plans from me?

Mr. DOWNEY: (as Sherlock Holmes) You never complained about my methods before.

TURAN: This bickering is especially tiresome when joined to the film's attempt to become a typical studio picture by presenting overblown action sequences that just come off as generic. This Hollywoodized epic has attempted to do too much, and that's given the film an air of trying too hard, which is the one thing Sherlock Holmes should never have to do.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews films for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: