…too bad Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg and Guy Richie don’t.
Who are they? The writers and the director of the latest film incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, titled – cleverly enough – Sherlock Holmes, due out on Christmas Day.
Of course I’d heard of the coming film for some time, but hadn’t checked out the trailer until GruvLoungeGoth (who, I’m thinking, needs a new nickname – it’s never quite sit right with me, but I’m too creatively bankrupt to come up with a new one) asked me via Twitter if I had seen the new trailers. His question stirred up an inadvisable curiosity within me that had to be sated. And so I viewed this:
Oh, how painful it was. And how painful it still is, especially for a long-time Sherlock Holmes fanatic like myself. I briefly considered harakiri to erase the memory.
Unfortunately the release date is almost upon us, which means that marketing for the movie has significantly increased. Billboards, bus shelters, sides of buildings have sprung up all over the city, the charmingly weathered visage of Robert Downey, Jr. painfully reminding me of that which is to come. Not to mention such logical tie-ins as:
The weird thing about this is, I would normally be excited (though slightly weirded out) about all this marketing if the trailer promised a good movie. I love me some Sherlock and think it would be great for the characters and stories to have another resurgence.
So…what is it about the trailer that has got me so twitchy? Not what you would think.
It’s not all the action. I actually don’t have a problem with Holmes and Watson being plopped into a big budget action flick, as long as the action feels natural to the story and the characters (though, yes, it does feel a bit too action-y). As originally written by Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes was a boxer, fencer, single-stick expert and master of baritsu. It was his knowledge of baritsu that saved him from Moriarty’s clutches at the Reichenbach Falls. Watson was also a man of action, ready with a pistol or a fist when needed, as well as being a veteran of the Second Afghan War. Much as I hate to say it: Nigel Bruce, he wasn’t.
Speaking of which, Jude Law looks like an acceptable Watson to me. A man who spoke of having “an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents” (The Sign of Four) was bound to be handsome (the appropriate Watsonian mustache lessens Law’s distracting prettiness, making him more manly), plus he seems to have a nice bit of non-stodgy gravitas which suits the character, as does the twinkle of intelligence and mischievousness in the eye.
I reserve judgment on Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler. She looks far too tartish, to be honest, and relies on a kick to the groin where I believe Irene would have used her admirable brains, charm and wit. But as this is a re-imagining, I’ll wait.
Okay, so I don’t have a problem with the action or with Watson and am willing to play wait-and-see with the femme fatale of the piece. Just what is my problem?
Yep. Robert Downey, Jr.
What gets me is…I don’t see Sherlock Holmes. I see Tony Stark with an English accent in sloppy Victorian clothes. There’s no real difference between the two characters, except that Downey’s Holmes looks less mentally and emotionally tortured than Downey’s Stark. Also, Holmes was described by Watson to be as meticulous in his personal grooming as he was messy in his housekeeping (I can’t find the exact quote right now, but that was the gist of it). Looking slovenly and unshaven was never something Holmes would be.
Downey just looks…wrong.
Recently CuteFilmNerd and I saw Nine. In the very first scene I was taken aback by how completely Daniel Day-Lewis inhabited his role, as he did in There Will Be Blood and, my favorite film of his, In the Name of the Father. Instantly I remembered the Robert Downey, Jr of Chaplin and wondered where that immersive actor went. Because I sure didn’t see him in that Sherlock Holmes trailer. I’m sure that Ritchie is a big reason for that – he’s known for flip characters and fast action and I will have no problem heaping the proper amount of blame on his head for any Sherlockian misfiring. Still, it would be nice to have Downey be strong enough to overcome the flippancy of his director and the potentially poor writing of one of the men responsible for X-Men: The Last Stand.
Perhaps I should just chill out until I see the movie. And yes, I will be seeing the movie, though I may have to have CuteFilmNerd gag me and tie my hands to the chair arms to keep me from flailing and screaming. As a member of his employer’s film society, CuteFilmNerd can get into a screening of the movie the weekend after Christmas for free. I will, of course, be his guest, for I feel compelled to watch the damned thing but I have no desire to pay my hard-earned money for it.
I just wish that I wasn’t dreading it so much.