Fits successfully into the Holmes oeuvre—pulpy adventure about dedicated friends—but stays a movie of today. But couldn’t they find a razor for Downey? B+.
I have more to say about this one (and feel entitled to add it, now that I’ve distilled my 25 words). To my mind, Downey’s wardrobe and grooming were among the weakest parts of this film. Distractingly sloppy, when we know that Holmes was actually fastidious about his personal appearance. Sure, the film departed from the source material in some other unnecessary ways (and Downey spoke too mumblingly fast some of the time) . . . but fundamentally, it worked. Jude Law is a great Watson, and the film played up some under-recognized elements of both Holmes and Watson—Holmes’ athleticism, Watson’s intelligence, Watson’s bravery, Holmes’ dry sense of humor, Watson’s suaveness—as well as the things we know about Holmes and Watson, such as their dedication to each other and Holmes’ analytical process.
In essence, Holmes has always been part of the pulp-adventure genre of its day. Part of Conan Doyle’s genius is his creation of a character and setting that translate so well into the pulp adventure genre of any era. So yes—this is a 2009 movie. It had a steampunk aesthetic that will soon seem dated and a quick-cut editing style that (in addition to being annoying), is very much of this time. But it’s also a Holmes movie. I could quibble all day with bits of it—but basically, I liked it. Perhaps the best testament is that I’m looking forward to the sequel.