Directed by Guy Ritchie
Written by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, Lionel Wigram
Based on the characters by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly
Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) has his own ways of solving mysteries. His unique methods, along with the help of his friend John Watson (Law), have aided him in solving the cases he chooses to take. When Holmes and Watson help Scotland Yard arrest and eventually execute Lord Henry Blackwood (Strong), a murderous nobleman, they think the case is closed. Only when his grave reopens and his body is missing do the pair begin to see something more might be going on. Now Holmes and Watson are on the trail of this killer who has supposedly risen from the dead.
In the first of two Sherlock films from Guy Ritchie (Snatch), the characters are brought to life in Ritchie’s unique style. The screenplay was developed by a team of writers including Michael Robert Johnson (Pompeii), Anthony Peckham (Invictus), Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Days of Future Past), and Lionel Wigram (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). The cast features a number of talented actors beginning with Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man 3) and Jude Law (Cold Mountain). In addition, the movie features Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris), Mark Strong (Zero Dark Thirty), Eddie Marsan (The World’s End), and Kelly Reilly (Flight).
With this cast, the story truly comes to life. Robert Downey Jr. is an incredible talent and this film was another chance for him to showcase his skill. He also paired nicely with Jude Law, who holds his own in this one. Additionally, the film features really good work from Rachel McAdams and Kelly Reilly, the two major female characters in the film. One of the great performances in this movie comes from Mark Strong. His portrayal of the terrorizing Lord Blackwood is excellent. It was also necessary that the villain be a strong character, keeping the playing field level between himself and Holmes. Finally, Eddie Marsan does a great job as the frustrated but friendly Inspector Lestrade. When you add in the supporting cast, who all do good work, you have an excellently acted film.
The story given to the stars is a wonderful mystery, designed to showcase the talents of Sherlock Holmes. The dialogue is nicely written, and it plays naturally with the actors throughout the movie. For this one, I think the success of the movie came from the small details focused on in the story. Nothing goes unexplained when it comes to the resolution of the story or any plot points throughout. The way that Ritchie chose to style Sherlock in this one is wonderful. The character is written in a way that sets him apart from previous or more recent incarnations of the classic character. The part of Lord Blackwood is also nicely written. Overall, this was a great story, written by a talented group of screenwriters.
If the story has any flaws, it comes from the lack of background. Within the limits of the movie, it seemed like some characters were introduced with little information given about their history with Sherlock. This isn’t true of the major characters, but several of the supporting characters fall into this category. Although it’s nothing that makes the movie wildly less enjoyable, it does create some questions about some of the characters.
Visually, this is an awesome movie as well. The sets, costumes, and special effects all come together to create a very nice world for the film to take place in. This was a recognized success in the movie on its initial release, earning the Best Art Direction nomination from the Oscars. The makeup work, camera work, and other visual aspects all work together nicely in this one. In addition to the visuals, the score for this film is also really great. Hans Zimmer earned an Oscar nomination for Best Score for his work on this movie.
This is an excellent version of a classic character. The movie does almost everything right, making it enjoyable for a wide range of audiences. If you’re a fan of the stars in this one, I would definitely suggest it. I would also suggest this one to anyone who enjoyed the second film, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Even if you’ve seen this one before, it has great repeat value. This is a good one for action fans, mystery fans, or fans of the character of Sherlock Holmes.