Sunday, 28 November 2010

Robert Downey's Sherlock Holmes or Guy Ritchie takes the piss

He would have made a better Holmes
I wrote a review of the film Sherlock Holmes in December '09, before the BBC's excellent  Sherlock (reviewed here) aired and before we knew there would be a sequel to the odious pile of droppings in question. I include it now as I think it bears repeating. If it saves even one poor soul from buying the DVD or renting it, I have done my job.

And now let us go back in time, It's a few hours after I've been forced to sit through the film, lost my scarf at the show and only having just returned from a gathering of Sherlockians that would normally have been discussing Holmes, Doctor Who, Corrie, life and of course enjoyed the fine knosh on offer by our hostess. We Instead,  spent the evening wondering how we were going to explain to new recruits why the stories we read and study in no way resemble the dreck they saw and hope they decide to stay anyways. In case you're wondering, we got no new members worth keeping, one ruined a meeting and was asked to leave before it became a complete loss. Now close your eyes and go back, back back.........It's cold and I'm wondering where it all went so badly wrong.

I write this as a charter member for over 20 years of a Sherlock Holmes Society. Our lot was invited en mass to a preview screening of the new Holmes film by Guy Ritchie. Besides being a crass marketing attempt complete with bribery by posters, promotional material like cheap plastic cups and other assorted rubbish including recycled material from other films ( they gave us a key off some fantasy thing re-stamped Sherlock Holmes), the move was designed to get a good review from ANY Sherlockian. Well it is this Sherlockian's duty as a Sherlockian and lover of good films, to warn you  DO NOT GO see this aberration. Why you ask ? Where do I start????

Well lets start with the basic requirements of any entertaining film. It fails in every important way possible. It's badly cast,  badly acted, poorly written, overly violent for no apparent reason , the story makes little or no sense, lasting apx 120 minutes but feeling like 4 hours. It's called Sherlock Holmes, but resembles Holmes about as much as a fat hamster resembles a cheetah. It could have been called Indiana Bond v the Evil doer ninjas and not have changed a single word save a few names, it was that removed from even being slightly about Sherlock Holmes.  But since I was made to sit in plain view of the promo monkeys, I could hardly walk out at the 15th minute when I wanted to.  Had I left, I would not have seen the complete list of atrocities inflicted on movie goers in the name of Guy Ritchie's bank account and Robert Downey's ego. And so having been made to watch this, I will tell you in exquisite detail why it's 2 hours of my life I would have preferred watching repeats of old industrial films or having a root canal.

Oh Yes!
As a Sherlockian I can tell you it treats the core characters with as much respect as an illiterate bully looking for porn mags at the library. Holmes should have no difficulty paying the rent as he's quite wealthy. Holmes and Watson do not have gambling problems, Holmes is not a slob, Irene Adler is not a master criminal but an actress/singer. As for the whole Mary Morstan story, Holmes is the one who hooks her up with Doctor Watson in the stories. So for Holmes on film to be jealous and to make trouble is insane and clearly he can't use deduction on her as he already knows her.. Holmes and Watson never come to blows and Mrs Hudson is Scottish and not afraid of Holmes. One tiny detail... Holmes and Watson do not own a dog of any kind, let alone a dead ringer for a certain insurance selling bulldog. Oh Yes ! Can you say product placement? For the writers to take a few over the top episodes from the books and wrap them in rubbish does not  make for an alleged accurate portrayal with a twist. As for the costuming, it's a dogs breakfast of styles from 1840 through to 1925, Rachel Mcadams in particular is dressed so poorly for the period, it's clear this was never ever made as anything but a cash grab at horny teenagers who can't afford internet porn. There are more cockneys per square inch than there were in London at the time and there appear to be only a handful of upper class people and they are all without exception, Evil. London was not an eternal lunar landscape forgotten by the sun and the constant less than subtle reminders that Ritchie once made Lock Stock and two smoking barrels means the film was never more than a sad call for attention from a film maker who's last few films have been without exception, turkeys. 

So what's the story?

Holmes has to stop a megalomaniac from taking over the world through alleged Satan worship, but is in fact Kabbala. The baddie who dresses like a Nazi from 1933 and speaks like one, wants to create a new world
order. Where have we heard that one before? Oh yeah, Indiana Jones or was that WW2?

The greatest offence, as if what I already mentioned wasn't enough, is the clear use of Jewish iconography and objects to create a sense of evil and danger. My wife, one of millions who can read Hebrew, was shocked to see the following.

1- A passage supposedly from the Kabbala , a practice that was so deeply shunned at the time by Jews, it was cause for hoying out of the congregation. The passage purported to be about a ritual with animal parts was in fact a text about the elements of life and completely harmless.

2- At one point, the film casts evil intent on the character of some high nobles with the inclusion of a richly decorated ceremonial box. The box in fact is a Tzadakah box or charity box. You select a cause
to donate to and drop your change in to eventually give it to the charity  of your choice. To elevate such an object of good to symbol of evil and danger is the same as equating a breast feeding mother to
that of a murderer.

It gets worse

3- During the film there is a massive overly long, slow motion explosion. The music played is the same as is used in every WW2 special about the concentration camps. It was creepy and unsettling.

4- Lastly they plan to kill off most of the members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons by using a device to activate poisonous pellets that will send the deadly smoke into the House of Commons turning it into a gas chamber.

This film is flawed in so many ways, but the use of Jewish symbols and sacred items in combination with the gas chamber imagery  is beyond the pale. My wife's family only barely survived the camps. For Guy Ritchie to think this was ok to do, is sickening . As a Holmes film it fails, as an action adventure it's a complete mess from beginning to end, not having any particular hook or creation of tension onto likeable characters.  Lastly it is offensive to any person who knows their history .. I can only hope this film dies a quick death and Guy Ritchie is exposed for the insensitive piece of work he is.

My last word on this, if you want to watch quality Holmes stories,stick to ITV's Jeremy Brett. If you want explosions and action, perhaps Avatar might be worth seeing. But at all cost avoid this piece of dog's droppings . It's not worth the price of admission, even if you don't read Hebrew.

Looking forward to the John Lennon bio pic reviewed here, should be much better.

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