New Year's Day finally brought me the chance to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie, released on Christmas Day.
My first attempt was stymied when the theater I went to had a sold-out show and better than an hour to the next one. Don't like any movie theater enough to sit around it for an hour. The thought of checking out another movie instead crossed my mind but left as soon as it saw that the only other movie my mind cared to see had been viewed last week with the family.
Another theater offered Holmes at the right time, so in I went. Director Guy Ritchie has answered the question, "What if Saturday Night Live made a Sherlock Holmes sketch only using Robert Downey, Jr. being Robert Downey, Jr., instead of acting like Sherlock Holmes? Oh, and it's a post-11:30 sketch. Or a post-1995 sketch, which is just as bad." It will not surprise you to know that no one was asking that question.
Downey is Downey, and can amuse with his particular projected mix of cluelessness and savvy. Transferred onto Holmes, it means he does so with an English accent, and he comes off very much like John Cleese mixed with Benny Hill. He neither looks nor acts like any version of Holmes ever, from the Arthur Conan Doyle-written and Sidney-Paget illustrated original through the best-known Basil Rathbone movies through the best-period Jeremy Brett of Granada Television's 1980s version. Of course, he doesn't have to, but since his different vision brings nothing of value to the movie, it's simply annoying (Interestingly, the character who looks most like the classic Holmes is the villain, Lord Blackwood, played by Mark Strong. It'd be interesting to see if Ritchie intended that, but it's hard to believe he's that clever. He willingly married Madonna, after all).
The film is diffuse and scattered. A sort of CSI deduction ex machina sequence substitutes for the kind of observation and deduction that is Holmes' usual working method.
Worse movies were released this holiday season, so money spent on Sherlock Holmes is not wasted as thoroughly as it might be. But if that's the best that it can manage, then there is a lame game afoot indeed.