December 30th, 2009 by Calvero

Watson and Holmes with his violin bow

I wasn’t sure on what to expect from the movie.  I’ve been a Sherlockian for over 20 years. I was excited.  It was the first Holmes movie in more than 20 years.  I had my doubts about Downey.  Not in his acting however or that he was not British.  One of the big complaints from some Holmes fans about Downey was the fact that he was not British. Having seen him numerous times in Chaplin (Charlie Chaplin was British) where he had to learn 2-3 different accents to cover different eras of Chaplin’s life, I knew he could handle that.

Jude Law looked excellent as Watson, and from the trailers he seemed good, but I was going to hold off final opinion until I saw them in action.

I also had never seen a Guy Ritchie movie before.  Other than having violence in his work, I really didn’t know what form he would take Holmes.

I went to the theater the day after Christmas.  It was a busy Saturday afternoon and a lot of people were outside. I stood in one of the two lines.  And as I stood there, I listened to what people were getting tickets to see.  Most were for Holmes shich made me smile and also made me nervous.  What it gets sold out before it was my turn?

“Sorry, it was just sold out.  The last ticket was to the person right in front of you”

But I held my breath and waited.

“Three for Sherlock Holmes. Five for Sherlock Holmes. Two for Sherlock Holmes…”

After serveral people on both sides getting Holmes tickets, it was my turn.

“One for Sherlock Holmes”

After the poor guy had to type in my number because the card was worn, which also added a little tension thinking that it would sell out, he gave me the little ticket to sign, then handed me the movie ticket and receipt ticket.  I smiled and headed in.
I gave it to the guy inside who was talking to a couple of the other patrons about how he was having trouble saying awake while working.

I walked in the room where it was playing.  Packed!  I looked around for a place to sit.  Down…Down…Down the aisle I went.  Finally I settled in the middle of the third row.  They were playing one of those commercials for Coca-Cola and Walmart with the young guy going through a party, singing.  I looked around.  There were young teens, older couples, and people my age or thereabouts.

Good size crowd.  Very good size.

Trailers started.  First one showed Robert Downey Jr sitting in a crowded courtroom.  It was a trailer for Iron Man 2.  After a few other trailers, the cobble streets of London filled the screen…

The Review

Robert Downey Jr as the master detective, Sherlock HolmesI was afraid I wouldn’t like Downey as Holmes, mainly due the physical differences.  It doesn’t seem right that Holmes is shorter than Watson.  And the hair didn’t seem right either.  While I watched the trailers and see Downey, I mainly saw Downey play Holmes… I didn’t see Holmes.  And I was afraid that would be too distracting.  So I decided I would go in based on the other factors, his acting (wasn’t too worried about that) and how he sounded.While it was a little distracting in looks, I quickly was able to put that aside and enjoy the film.  His accent was very good.  He sounded like I expected Holmes to sound.  I liked how he talked his way on how to attack an opponent and the result of hitting/ kicking would do to the poor soul he was fighting.  His meeting with Watson’s fiance Mary (one of the actual characters from the original  stories, first in Sign of Four).  She insists that Holmes give deductions about her, all the while Watson is trying to talk her out of it. Holmes goes through a rapid fire list of things about her, resulting in her throwing her drink in his face (I don’t think Holmes saw that coming 😉 ).

Other deductions were also great such as when Holmes has a bag placed over his head so he couldn’t see where some men were taking him.  When the bag is removed after arriving in a chair in a secret location, the host doesn’t expect Holmes to know where they are at or who the host is.  Holmes then goes through a list of smells, sounds, turns of the carriage that he observed while riding in the carriage and gives the location of where they are and who the gentleman is.

Also I liked how the film showed Holmes’ lack of socializing and “absurd” (to society anyway) way of living. which Watson hits Holmes with while being held in a pen.

Also interesting brief look into why Holmes does not socialize much during the scene with him in the resturant and the sounds and appearances of people get to him for a brief moment as he tries to block it out.

Holmes fighting, giving a left punch. From "Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist". Illustration by Sidney PagetBig arguments about the fighting scene with people saying that Holmes didn’t fight.  While he did not fight a lot, he certainly knew how to and was familiar with martial arts and how to wield a cane.  The picture on the left is from “Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist”, published in 1904.

Ultimate was at the end where Holmes explains how everything happened (though I’ll let you find out what Holmes discovered.)

Things like that gave me a thumbs up for Downey (though Jeremy Brett is still my favorite Holmes).Jude Law brilliantly plays Doctor Watson

And now Jude Law as John Watson.  The guy was good. So, so good!  The look, the way he talked.  One hundred percent believable. Unlike Downey, when I looked at Watson, I saw Watson, I didn’t see Law playing Watson.  I put him right up there with David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as great.  Just like the Watson in the stories, he is faithful to his unusual friend but also brutally honest when there’s something that he does not agree with him about.

Rachael McAdams was good as Irene Adler, though I must say I am sick and tired of people putting a romantic spin between her and Holmes.  Though credit goes to the film for showing Holmes not totally interested in her romantically.  And yes, Adler is American (I’ve read some grumblings about that).  She is another character from the original canon, A Scandal in Bohemia (one of my favorite Holmes stories) which was the first Holmes short story.  And yes, she outsmarts Holmes in that.  But there was no hanky-panky with them in there.

Mark Strong was good, though a bit of the stereotypical bad guy.  In parts he kind of reminded me of Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs.

And hooray for them putting Inspector Lestrade in it, played by Eddie Marsan.  I was wondering if he was going to be in it, and also how his name would be pronounced.  Marsan didn’t look rat faced enough so I still will mark down Colin Jeavons as best Lestrade (from the Brett/Burke/Hardwicke series).  And the name is pronounced the same in this film as it was in the Rathbone films, with a short “a”.  When I originally read the stories, I read it with a long “a”, like in” trade”.

The soundtrack

The minute I found out that Hans Zimmer wrote the soundtrack, I knew I would like it.  Turns out that not only the main theme is great, but the whole thing is good!  Love the sound of a broken piano, it added a new fresh sound to Holmes.  While listening to it at home, I looked through a bunch of pictures of Rathbone/Bruce and Brett/Burke/Hardwicke, the music still fit.  Thumbs up for Zimmer (again)!  I am listening to it repeatedly as I am writing this review. Click hear to have a listen from the movie official site.  Just let it play and you can listen to the whole thing.  If press the triangles, it’ll just play samples.  Here’s a great article from the London Times about how Zimmer created the unique sounds: “Hans Zimmer: ‘The sound of Sherlock Holmes? It’s a broken piano'”

Overall

I had the theme song stuck in my head a couple hours after the movie, my mind a whirl wind of positive things things to say about the film.  I was smiling throughout the whole thing, totally taking up in what was going on, and trying to figure out the little mysteries as they came up.  And with all the positive things I’ve see in tweets and reviews, looks like there will be more interest in the great detective, which, for a long time fan, is always a good thing 🙂

Favorite Scenes/Lines

(Holmes pointing his violin bow at Watson)
Watson: Get that thing out of my face
Holmes: It’s not in your face, it’s in my hand.
Watson: Get that thing that’s in your hand out of my face.
———————–
Scenes with the Big Guy that Holmes fights twice, and they talk French to each other. Ha! Very good!  A Indiana Jones moment at the shipyard when Holmes throws a small hammer at him and it just bounces off. Reminds me of when Indy fought that big Nazi by the fighter plane in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
———————–
Holmes: Save your bullets Watson.
(a few seconds later they both fire their guns, Holmes doing most of the shooting)
Watson: What was that about saving bullets?
———————–
Holmes trying to unlock a door. Watson comes up and kicks the door in.
———————–

Not a deerstalker/curved shape pipe/”Elementary my dear Watson” in sight! Yay!

————————

There were a few of classic Holmes sayings. Two that I remember:

“Data, data, data.  I can not make bricks without clay”

“”It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”

And finally, a cool trailer….

I had posted trailer #2 in my last regular post, but a much better one was released later:

This movie will definately be on my “DVDs to get” list!

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June 4th, 2009 by Calvero

First, thanks to those who told me how much they liked my review. 🙂

I have thought of other things that I wanted to add to it:

Random thought: Was anyone else surprised that Winona Ryder was in it?  And that she played Spock’s mom? Assuming that you did not know who was in the movie prior to seeing it, that is ;). That surprised me when I was watching the credits and thought “She was in this?”

More on Roman history: And while watching the TOS episode “Amok Time” (the one where Spock returns to Vulcan and first does the Vulcan salute),  I suddenly remembered the relationship of Vulcan (the Roman god of fire) and Spock’s home planet (D’oh!). It’s because the planet is volcanic (ah, the wonders of Roman mythology on the English language!), and therefore hot and the air is thin. And then I remember the scenes in the movie seeing the outside shots of Vulcan. I knew there had to be something connecting the two!  My mind just went blank when writing my earlier review.

And to talk about something not directly related to the movie, here’s a connection with TNG:  Back in 1976, BBC aired a 12 part television series called “I, Claudius” about the goings-on of the Julio-Claudian household from Claudius’ point of view (like a soap opera, but with more literal knife stabbing and poisoning and it’s pretty close to being historically accurate). Claudius was one of the family members and would later become emperor.  It had a big cast, among them Patrick Stewart who play Sejanus, the captain of the Praetorian Guard (the emperor’s elite bodyguards) under Emperor Tiberius, and who is believed to have tried to become emperor by killing off people.

Eleven years later Stewart would become Captian Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) , a much more noble man.

I hope to write a review of that BBC series. I’ve seen it a few times and love it.

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May 26th, 2009 by Calvero

(warning: some spoilers)

I’m a casual Star Trek fan.  I don’t own any ST memorabilia, VHS tapes, DVDs, soundtracks, or anything like that. I just enjoy watching the show.  And I was looking forward to seeing the new one that was released a couple weeks ago.  The last one I saw in theaters was First Contact.  I heard so many bad things about the last two that I did not bother.

I watched it a few days ago and it still is running through my head.  This new one really kicks! Oh my gosh! It throws you into the action right away and doesn’t let go until the credits.  I think I blinked 3 times, maybe 4.

PROS

First, the cast was great. The main characters look and act the way you expect them to be.  You didn’t need to try and keep track of who was supposed to be who.  That was awesome!  Except for Nero. I’m no expert but I don’t remember ever seeing bald Romulans.  That took a little while to figure  out and remember.

Leonard Nimoy is in it as an older Spock! And I’m not giving away anything with that.  He appears in the trailer.

Time travel.  Always love time travel stories.  There have been some complaints that it using time travel has been used to much in sci fi.  But then again so has using aliens and traveling around in space :P.  I say, if it’s used wisely, go for it!  And I had no trouble with it.

Roman history.  Having been a huge history fan and currently writing a time travel story taking place at different times of the Roman Republic and Empire, I was enjoying spotting the ancient Roman references.  I had never really paid attention to them before in Star Trek, until I began to study more about Roman culture and history while writing my time travel story.

No secret that the T in Kirk’s middle name stands for Tiberius.  Tiberius was one of the big Julio-Claudian emporers of Rome, sandwiched in-between Augustus Caesar and Caligula.  Then there’s the villain of the movie, Nero, who shares the same name as one of the other Julio-Claudian Roman emperors.

And then there’s Spock’s race, Vulcan.  In Roman mythology, Vulcan was the god of fire and blacksmiths and walked with a limp because his mother, Juno, thought he was an ugly baby and threw him off of Mount Olympus (that’s gotta hurt!). After falling for a day and a night, he landed in the water, breaking his leg.  I have not figured out any connection with Spock’s race and the Roman god though :/

Then there are the Romulans.  They have two home planets Romulus and Remus, which are also the same names of the twin founders of Rome.  The Romulan form of government is modeled after the Roman Republic (which existed between the Roman Kingdom and Roman Empire)

Sherlock Holmes. For the second time (or would it be the first? hmmm… )  Spock quotes the great detective “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. Being a long time Sherlockian, I was sitting there lip syncing the quote :D.  The first time was Star Trek VI “The Undiscovered Country” where Spock credits a ancestor of his.    The quote is originally from one of four Holmes novels, “The Sign of Four”, and one of the best of the 56 stories  (To see the quote in action, watch this it’s 6:18 of the way through, though I recommend the whole video. The amazing Jeremy Brett plays Holmes, with Edward Hardwicke as Watson). For more Sherlock Holmes/Star Trek connections check this page out.

Lack of nude scenes/unnecessary language

The trailer made it seem like there was a heavy making out scene between Kirk and another woman. Turned out that he was wearing shorts and the girls was green (classic TOS green skin) and wearing a bikini. (gasp!) No nudity? What was Abrams thinking?? (and yes, I am being sarcastic 😉 )

And I didn’t realize it until after it was over, but there was only a couple bad words in it.  Kudos for that as well!

CONS

There isn’t a whole lot of negative things I can say about the movie.  Other than there being bald Romulans.  And I’m not to crazy about the Spock/Uhura matchup.   Also Chekov had blond curly hair which was different.  But the personality and accent was good.  Funny scene when he’s trying to give the computer a command and the computer does not understand because of his thick Russian accent :D.

Favorite scenes

Just about every scene with Scotty was great.  James Doohan would have liked him.

Leonard Nimoy is awesome (as always) as Spock!  In this case he’s referred to in the credits as Spock Prime.  And wow to young Spock meeting older Spock.  In fandom, that would definitely be a squee! moment.

New, unknown crew member? You know what that means!

Nice fight scene on the drill with Kirk and Sulu versus the two Romulans.  And the diving was pretty cool.

A tear for the destruction of Vulcan :'(

And just about everything was great.  As I said earlier, I barely blinked.  It moves along at a good pace. I’m getting the DVD for sure!

Below is the trailer for it:

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