Sherlock. Home


I don’t walk out of films much. In fact, hardly ever. I can count them on one hand. I gave up with Showgirls. I walked out of Duplicity. I voted with my feet when the lady’s breasts got shot in Crank 2*. And now, I have done the same with Sherlock Holmes. This was at the Empire in Leicester Square, a really excellent screen (albeit a cinema whose foyer seems designed after a cattle market), and surely the perfect setting for the post-Christmas blockbuster romp. It was full, which means, by the law of averages, there were people talking and texting either side of us, but frankly, I didn’t blame them. What a terrible film. Unengaging, overly fond of itself, miscast, and actually rather dull – and this is a Sherlock Holmes film! We lasted about 45 minutes, at which point the escape was coordinated and executed. (Sorry for treading on the toes of the young man to our left who had actually taken a call on his mobile during the film, without even leaving his seat!)

I won’t pick it to pieces. I take no pleasure in that – nor do I take pleasure in paying for a film and not seeing it through to the end. Indeed, I remain a huge admirer of Guy Ritchie’s early work – ie. Lock, Stock and Snatch – but as time marches on, it seems he had his creative moment and that creative moment has now passed. I seriously wondered why Warner Bros let him spend all this money on a supposedly iconoclastic “reimagining” of the famous detective (cor, he’s a bare knuckle fighter!) – but hey, they were right to take that punt, as it’s taken almost $150m in the States, where only Avatar kept it off the number one box office slot in Christmas week. But I just didn’t buy into it. Robert Downey Jr, whose comeback fills me with cheer (and who hugged me at the Baftas last year), seems to have opted to keep him mouth shut as he talks, in order to preserve his English accent; as a result, you really can’t quite hear what he’s saying. Jude Law is just Jude Law with a moustache – I guess you either love him or you don’t – and Rachel McAdams doesn’t convince at all. I don’t need the question “Why is the female lead an American?” answering, as I realise her character Irene Adler did actually appear in one Holmes story (A Scandal In Bohemia: I’ve seen the excellent Jeremy Brett adaptation), but this isn’t that story. So why is she?

I feel locked out of the love-in, here, as many have enjoyed the film and word-of-mouth has kept it afloat at the box office. But I went along in good faith, hoping to enjoy it, so the fact that I didn’t seems to be largely rooted in what I thought of the film. Ah well, at least I got an hour and a quarter of my life back.

*I forgot about Crank 2 and added this in after the first draft of this blog entry, hence the comments below reminding me. Well reminded!

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38 thoughts on “Sherlock. Home

  1. Since Jeremy Brett, all Holmes adaptations have seemed a bit pointless. Ditto Marple, post-Joan Hickson. Surely there comes a point when potential adapters have to acknowledge that the job's been done definitively, and it's time to think up something new.

  2. Glad you didn't 'pick it to pieces'!I reckon it was probably 20 minutes too long (probably the first 20 actually!) but I'm glad I stuck with it. As a 12 cert I think it goes under the category of enjoyable romp.Charles Letterman

  3. The one good thing that has come out of it is that your review mentions "Locked Out of the Love-In", an excellent single by the cruelly underrated One Thousand Violins.

  4. I've never yet walked out of a movie, but would have on Kevin & Perry, and Scary Movie 2 but as friends had chosen the film I decided to stay with the group. On both occasions said friends admitted that the film wasn't worth watching.With Bridget Jones's diary I would have walked out had I not been with a girl. That remains the only film I have deliberately tried to fall asleep during.Main reason for posting was that there are loads of great films I've seen recently where people walk out. These seem to be ones where the trailers are big and bold, but the film itself is a more muted affair. Where the Wild Things are's audience halved when I watched it. Maybe the unlimited film passes mean that people try films they wouldn't usually see.

  5. Did you not also walk out of Crank 2? Which isn't a satire, despite what people may say, but is certainly less unpleasant than Transformers 2. Not trying to trip you up, just asking for clarification.

  6. IIRC, didn't you also walk out of Crank: High Voltage? (just saying)Sorry to hear you didn't like Holmes. I saw it last night and liked it very much. Although there are some films you can watch and wonder why on earth people CAN'T like it, I knew during this that it definitely ISN'T for everyone. For a number of reasons.It just so happens that it ticks all the boxes for me, in the same way that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen did, too: Pure entertainment. I expected to be entertained, I wasn't disappointed. I WASN'T expecting a depth of story usually associated with Sherlock Holmes, I wasn't let down.For the record, I didn't think too much of Rachel McAdams performance, mainly as she's been so much better in other movies. The fact that she's American didn't bother me though. Like you said yourself, there are larger holes to pick.

  7. From what I've seen, trailer wise, very much up it's own arse. As the old saying goes, if it was chocolate it would eat itself. However I shouldn't really comment as I haven't seen the film, and am unlikely to for a while-nearest Cineama to me is 60 miles away.It looks terrible, too heavily relying on special effects. And there seems to be no chemisty between the actors. All this from a couple of trailers, I know, but as the trailers often have all the best bits in them, I will be avoiding this. I have never walked out of a film, yet, but if I ever find myself trapped in a room showing "Big Top" with Amanda Holden I will eat my own face off. Happy New Year.

  8. Absolutely shocking behaviour from the other cinema viewers. Can't people tun their 'phones off for a couple of hours. They need to be banned from cinemas. Would have ruined it for me and must have influenced your viewing.

  9. Interesting – I went yesterday expecting very little and really enjoyed it, even Jude Law, who I normally really really don't like. Totally agree with you about Duplicity though – I watched it on a plane so walking out wasn't an option…

  10. Well thank God for that, I was within minutes of seeing Sherlock before my friends agreed to see the new Coen brothers' film "A Serious Man" instead. Which was excellent, I might add. I highly recommend it. I can't stand Jude Law myself but I am also fond of Robert Downey Jr. I'll probably give it a go on DVD.

  11. You sound a bit underwhelmed Andrew…I saw it and stayed 'til the end. But mostly because I'm mildly in love with Rorert Downey Jr.I suggest you tell your viewers/listens/readers if they want a good modern sherlock holmes adaptation to just buy a house boxset. THAT is a programme which understands what Holmes was really about.Hannahx

  12. Thanks, saved the trip and the expense…saw the trailer (was it 3D I can't recall) when went to see 3DAvatar. The trailer looked CGI laden and clumsy subsequent reviews and comments from people who have seen it have been quite mixed. Interestingly though some have loved it?

  13. I'd read that Holmes was a bare knuckle fighter in the Conan Doyle legend – I realise Ritchie didn't make it up – but there's something a bit embarrassing for me about the way he's homed (or holmed) in on this aspect.I would never presume to influence anybody's ticket money with what are only my personal opinions, by the way. I respect Peter Bradshaw's opinions, but do sometimes ignore him!

  14. each to his own. saw it last night and as a holmes afficiando, really wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised… downey and law offered a different take on what many (of us) have been brought up on – ie, the definitive jeremy brett performances… however, mark strong as 'blackwood' was fabulous… the cgi'd sequences were exceptional.as a dvd release… nope, can't see the joy in that – worked fine on the big screen but on a smaller one… don't imagine so. and, IF you do make it to the end, the plot is left open enough for a sequel…lastly – what, precisely, is it that punters don't understand within these few words – please turn your cell 'phones off – the blink-blink of constantly being checked i-phones / blackberrys is almost as annoying as people howling into them in enclosed spaces. hopefully, it won't be long before cinemas start to use cell-phone signal blockers – just in the same way as museums are starting to.Neil S

  15. Shame. Oh well, I enjoyed it anyway :o) The boxing match was a bit silly as it had nothing to do with the plot, although I thought the fighting worked elsewhere. It was the random slow motion sequence which seemed to go on for 15 minutes and during which nothing happened at all that really upset me.By the way the definitive Holmes and Watson are, in my opinion, Clive Merrison (the only man to have played Holmes in every story) and Michael Williams, although Andrew Sachs did well after Williams passed away. Well worth keeping an eye on the iPlayer for, they're usually repeated on BBC7 at around this time of year.

  16. Balance restored once more. Mark Kermode liked it, while you didn't. My wife thought it was great while I didn't (but thought it was OK). As for walking out – the last film I'd been to see, Quantum of Solace, rated higher on my walkout-o-meter.Perhaps the audience is a big factor. We went to a nearly-empty cinema at 1030. Film started 1050. At 1048 a group of five walked in and sat right in front of us (why do people do that?!) Distraction 1) a coughing fit just as the BBFC banner was fading, resulting in everyone standing up to let the cougher exit 2) about half way through, a phone needed to be checked shining into my eyes between the seats and thereafter followed by endless flicking through menus to listen to music etc. 3) the instant the first frame of the closing titles appeared and all were on their feet talking, putting on coats etc etc. Cinema going is now among my least favourite pastimes. Bah humbug.Oh, Happy New Year by the way!

  17. Stuart, I admire your confidence when you boldly state: "The only reason to walk out of that film is if you decided not to like it before hand." Thank you. However, I had decided to like it beforehand and didn't like it, so am I allowed to walk out? You're in charge.

  18. Oh, and Andy, I'd ignore both of your favourite film critics and go and see it. You're going to disagree with one of us!I post these film reviews because I enjoy writing about films I have seen. I would never presume to stop anyone going to see anything!I am a "film critic" who doesn't review films for anyone on a regular basis (Radio Times is all about films that are on the TV), so I am a frustrated film critic in that regard. This is my publication! Nobody pays me to do it, but I don't have to wait to be commissioned, either.

  19. I went to see it with the lowest of expectations: Not a Holmes fanatic nor a fan of Guy Rich Tea but I had a lot of time to kill over the hols and a cinema card so there you go.I don't have a problem with Holmes being a pugilist or a supporting character having an American accent. Can't quite understand there being a problem with this 're-imagining' as one comment mentions. We are hardly talking about some newly discovered source material. Holmes surely occupies one of the most dug up coffins in popular culture. All a film should do is be a good film. Satisfying fact-checker anoraks shouldn't come into it. Especially when you know who directed it. If it was a BBC Four venture then maybe you'd hope for some accurate period detail and sensitive handling of the original story but this is Guy Ritchie. We should count ourselves lucky he didn't change the names of the main characters to Punchy la Rue and Big Wattie.It WAS far too long. Set pieces stretching out to fill time that some decent dialogue and more subtle plotting should have occupied. And I couldn't agree more on Jude Law. I'm not quite sure how he managed to seem more incongruous than Downey's tight mouthed mumbling, but he did. Hard to pin down why, he just sounded too..contemporary, as if he was chatting to Guy about where they should go for lunch in Primrose Hill.I think you've set the bar very low for walk outs, Andrew. Will be interesting to see what you can and can't stomach in the coming year.Tom

  20. I'll sit through most things, Tom – indeed, I often have a professional responsibility to do so, but I'd paid for this one, and after 45 minutes I really started to feel I'd be better off at home watching re-runs of House. So I voted with my feet. I wasn't as a purist that I walked out, merely as a cinemagoer who was bored and unmoved by what I was seeing. I didn't like Avatar either, but I stuck it out as I felt it was at least something new that ought to be experienced. This Holmes felt a bit like something from the 80s except with fashionable slow-motion effects.

  21. I can totally understand you having less patience when you are effectively sitting in your sometime office.It's a weird time with the advent of unlimited cinema cards. Walkouts now don't necessarily evidence a poor film. At least a dozen people walked out within the first few minutes of a screening of A Serious Man I attended. They must have assumed the whole film was going to be in Yiddish..I think for these people, a film has to start entertaining in the first five minutes nevermind an hour or whatever.Tom

  22. I walked out of Showgirls as well in about 1996 when at Uni. Only film I have walked out of. Now its one of my favourite film due to it being to ridiculous. Especially the sex in the swimming pool. Everytime myself and the wife go on holiday this is re-enacted (only miming though).

  23. I'm wondering if there's a bit of a gender divide on this. Most men I know hate it. But then most men I know are Brett/Doyle purists and don't like the idea of the tone of the film. Most ladies I know loved it. It's nice to see an 'action' film without voyeuristic amounts of gore and violence. The film has almost cartoonish violence and threat. It's a really enjoyable romp with really sumptuous sets and good humour. I thought it was a lot of fun. I haven't liked a Guy Ritchie film since Lock Stock. I'm surprised you walked out as it's nowhere near as bad as Showgirls.Anna

  24. Far from discouraging me to go and see it, your review has peaked my interest even more, especially since the good Dr K liked it, as well as a friend who's opinion I respect very much.Shall I side with your good self or those two, who knows?I shall report back tomorrow after seeing it.

  25. I'm so glad someone else didn't like it. I thought it was OTT, pretty boring and not-very-British. The London sets were good, and Jude Law was surprisingly good, too, but other than that I really didn't enjoy it.

  26. I made it all the way to the end credits. But I think I was asleep for a good 40 minutes there in the middle. I really didn't like it.Spoiler alert…Was I still half asleep, or did they make it from the Houses Of Parliament to Tower Bridge a bit quickly there at the end?

  27. not so much "sherlock holmes" as "steampunk ironman" i thought the …directed by guy richie… line was a bit of a clue going in and i wasn't disappointed, still, an enjoyable movie -a few laughs,an ok plot,good cgi and a talented cast- but it was never going to overcome the baggage of that name. at least when spielberg redid the new testament he had the good sense to call it E.T.

  28. Welshy – you're right, they did. In fact the geography niggled me throughout – why, for example, did they go to Pentonville via Tower Bridge? And yes, at the end they must have positively sprinted to Tower Bridge. The film made out that Tower Bridge was the bridge next to Parliament.I didn't like it either, though my husband did…Happy New Year, Andrew!Px

  29. Maybe if you'd stayed to the end you would have found more to enjoy about the film? I found Downey Jr's mumbling annoying, but having stayed to the end thought the film was reasonably diverting. Even th bumptious, professional Ritchie-baiter Kermode didn't mind it. Get a grip, Andrew. Guy Burgess

  30. Thanks for the comment "Get a grip, Andrew." I had no idea I'd lost my grip. I went to see a film, didn't like it, didn't see it to the end. In what way have I lost my grip? Harsh words, Guy.

  31. I loved it too. It had the entertainment value of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but with a [slightly] darker plot, and a visually richer setting.The only thing I couldn't figure out about it was whether the relationship between Holmes and Watson was purely plutonic love, or not (perhaps that was just my imagination working overtime though).Enjoyable, fun, funny. I'm hoping for a sequel.

  32. I know I’m a bit late to this but Irene Adler is American: “”Let me see!” said Holmes. Hum! Born in New Jersey in the year 1858″ (even though Rachel McAdams is not).

    I quite liked this but the sequel is much better.

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