Sherlock Holmes 1 2009 5* - Downey, Law, McAdams
In honor of the 2011 Downey/Law sequel Game of Shadows, I'm catching up on Holmsian books and films. Fast, furious, fun, frenetic, and authentic, including the soundtrack. Doyle's scholastic, almost pompous, duo are here mischievous rambunctious boys. The method, buildings matched to symbolic animals, is unnecessarily tangled, best reduced to Holmes deductions from Lord Coward's clothing ruffles for the climax confrontation site and solving the ginger midget's conjuring tricks.
Open scene is hot double-barrelled chase and fight to capture Lord Blackwood mid-murder in a Gothic romance sacrifice ceremony. I've seen the whole before, but only recall fights, chases, and explosions, and enjoy enough for more - costumes, architecture, nuances. Clever film effects and sound show the detective's intense focus on detail, and the worst flame-bath effectively pierces and dulls our hearing too. Holmes reasons away devil magic and resurrection with science. Although the final fate of the villain in a storm does suggest divine retribution. I could do without the recurring Poe raven. After repeated watching, I guess it to be the called-for devil demanding his due.
The dim soft gray-brown palette evokes early photographs, suits smoky Victorian London, a character herself; the conversational style is reminiscent of the books. "Give me problems. Give me work." "food for thought" Dialogue and decoding scratches on a watch are straight from "The Sign of Four". Details, such as boxing, martial arts, inventions, untidy flat, VR initials gunshot into the wallpaper, attention to detail, conceit, and wit "fast women and slow horses" are true to Doyle. Various cases lend quotes, some in different context. The greatest adaptation differences are to do with the women. In Sign of Four, the men meet Mary together without conflict or jealousy. Irene Adler, bright in crimson satin and lush lips, is tempting competitive love interest.
The doomed multiple murderer warns Holmes of a larger web, is hanged, and appears to rise from the grave, replaced with a body sought by the fascinating Irene Adler, employed unwillingly by the arch-villain Moriarty, a hint for the sequel.