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Film Club: Sherlock Holmes

Holmes and Watson Get a Makover from Guy Ritchie

Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. as Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes

Credit: Warner Brothers

Above: Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. as Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes


Film critics Beth Accomando and Scott Marks discuss Sherlock Holmes on the KPBS Film Club of the Air.


"Sherlock Holmes" (opened December 25 throughout San Diego) casts Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detecting duo. Listen to our discussion on the KPBS Film Club of the Air.

DOUG MYRLAND: “Sherlock Holmes” is the next movie we want to talk about. The new “Sherlock Holmes” presents a different version of the venerable Holmes and Watson characters, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Robert Downey, Jr. plays Holmes and Jude Law is Watson. This 2009 version has the duo solving crimes in action hero style instead of using just rational intellect. The movie’s directed by Guy Ritchie. Also stars Rachel McAdams as a love interest. So what do we think about this latest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes?

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

"Sherlock Holmes"

SCOTT MARKS: Why? Why? Why take Sherlock Holmes and turn him into James Bond? And that’s all it is. It’s Holmes and Watson as two ass-kicking guys going and beating people up. This is any other action film that’s been made in the past 30 years.

BETH ACCOMANDO: But why not reinvent Sherlock Holmes as an action hero? I mean, why not?

MARKS: If they took one of your beloved vampire characters and went in there and they made…

ACCOMANDO: They already have. What do you mean?

MARKS: Yeah, and you buy into that?

ACCOMANDO: They’ve been re – they’ve been remaking Dracula every decade.

MARKS: When vam – when vampires can now walk around in sunlight. That’s what this is to me. I want nothing to do with this. I love Robert Downey. I think he’s a terrific actor, and he’s very charming in this film. And from what he’s saying on all the late night talk shows, he believes that Holmes and Watson are gay, and there’s a little bit of that in the film. If they would’ve gone in that direction, I would’ve been much more pleased.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

"Sherlock Holmes"

ACCOMANDO: Maybe that’s for the sequel.

MARKS: Oh, God, I hope – I hope there’s not going to be a sequel. This is just…

MYRLAND: And, Beth, you feel more positively about this movie, right?

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, it’s not a great film by any means but I thought it was fun. It’s way too long, which seems to be a problem with a lot of the stuff coming out, “Avatar,” “Invictus,” this, they’re all clocking in well over two hours and not meriting that length by any means. So this could’ve been tightened up. It’s Guy Ritchie trying to be a little less, I don’t know…

MARKS: What, yeah, it’s Guy Ritchie being Guy Ritchie.

ACCOMANDO: Yeah, but he tries to tone it down a little bit and…

MARKS: Yeah, but you can understand the dialogue.


MARKS: Yeah.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Warner Brothers

Robert Downey, Jr. as a buff Holmes

ACCOMANDO: And, I mean, the way they do the fights is instead of it just being a fight, it – to try and gives it all (sic) – give it a bit of a Holmes element to it, it’s – you’re kind of in his head thinking about what his plan is for how he’s going to knock these guys out and so you’re – he’s trying to give him some sort of approach to the fighting as opposed to just keeping them…

MARKS: And it was great the first time. The sixth time, enough already. We got it. I mean, he just repeats everything. He hammers everything home in this film. I think most audiences are going to be bored out of their mind by this. I mean, I don’t – I know most Sherlock Holmes fans are just going to detest this movie.

MYRLAND: Well, let’s hear a little bit of it. We should…

MARKS: Oh, good.

MYRLAND: We should give people a chance to sample it. We have Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law in this clip as Holmes and Watson. They receive strange news about the recently deceased. And here it is.

(audio of clip from the movie “Sherlock Holmes”)

MYRLAND: So there’s a clip from “Sherlock Holmes.” And if I can characterize your opinions about this, Beth, you would say this is a pretty good compromise choice if the lines at “Avatar” are too long and you’ve got the whole family and they all want to see something kind of popular.

ACCOMANDO: Oh, man, see, that’s a tough call between the two of them.

MARKS: Yeah.

ACCOMANDO: They’re both over-long.

MYRLAND: And then – and then, Scott, you would say…

MARKS: Take the family to see “A Single Man.” No, no.

ACCOMANDO: No. Go back to see “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” if you’ve got a family you’re taking out.

MARKS: This is “The Spy Who Loved Me” right down to the Jaws character. I mean, it’s – it’s kind of just a lukewarm ripoff of James Bond.

Companion viewing: "The Seven Percent Solution," "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1959), "The Woman in Green"

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