While Sherlock Holmes may not be a bad movie, it reminded me far too often of better ones. Almost every scene, I found myself remembering movies that were more fun to watch, had a more engaging story, or just did whatever it was Sherlock Holmes was doing in a more interesting way. Perhaps this is why I felt disappointed by the end, or maybe it’s just because I stopped caring about anything that was happening mid-way through.
The titular Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his partner John Watson (Jude Law) end up catching a man named Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong). Blackwood is sentenced to hang, but after being pronounced dead, we are told that he rose from the grave thanks to some black magic. Why? Well, he told Holmes that there will be more murders, and challenged him by saying that there will be nothing Holmes can do to stop them from happening. Most of the film consists of Holmes and the ever-reluctant Watson trying to stop these murders from occurring, as well as determine how Blackwood has managed to gain magical powers.
This story does not stay interesting for the entire time. In fact, it seems to completely die during one scene which was supposed to be the big reveal that, yes, Blackwood is actually still alive, (we hadn’t actually seen him up until this point), but I found myself bored for the entire film after this point. I’m still not certain why this particular scene killed the film for me, because it wasn’t a terrible moment, but I just felt that everything afterward was sub-par and not engaging whatsoever.
You’d be forgiven if, going into a film like this one, you thought that there would be little amounts of CGI, and that you would never have to be distracted by it. That’s what I thought. However, this isn’t the case. There are many scenes, particularly near the end, where you can easily tell that the entire set was CGI, and that the actors were all in front of a green screen. Even during grand, sweeping shots of the city, it appeared to be completely done in CGI. Why? It gave the film a unique look, I’ll give you that, but it’s distracting. The CGI isn’t bad, but you can tell that you aren’t in London. This takes you out of the experience.
Now is where I shock you. I haven’t had much, if any, experience with Sherlock Holmes in the past. I haven’t seen the older movies, I haven’t read any of the books, and I think any contact I’ve had with the character has come from the television in short bursts. I mention this, because I’d like to say that even though I don’t know a lot about him, or how accurately portrayed he is, Downey, Jr. made me want to experience more Holmes. He’s a narcissistic yet extremely intelligent character, and it was fun to watch him work.
Unfortunately, this brings with it the film’s biggest problem: Holmes is smarter than you or I, and because of that, the plot has to be convoluted enough so that only he can figure it out. The main plot isn’t that difficult, but there’s a subplot that deals with whether or not magic is real, and when it’s all explained at the end, you’ll probably end up frustrated that the film gave you so little to go by, but it gets solved anyway.
Going back to the film’s detractors, its action scenes are very weak. Many of them last far too long and don’t have enough going on to keep us entertained. There is one where there is an explosion, followed by another and then another. And that’s all we see. The characters duck, and then we see a few explosions. There are even more hand-to-hand combat scenes. The first one was neat, as it showed us how Holmes fought and figured out how to defeat his enemies. He does this in slow motion. Then it happened once more, and I was tired of this gimmick. A third time was torture. Hand-to-hand fight scenes without good choreography aren’t fun to watch.
Like I said to begin this review, Sherlock Holmes felt derivative of movies that were either better or just more fun to watch. Almost every scene felt like a retread of past ground, even if sometimes I was probably just looking too hard for similarities. Since I was so bored for about half of the film, I had to focus on other elements like the poor CGI or the fact that many scenes were copy-pasted from other movies, and this didn’t make the film seem good. If it had kept me entertained, then I would be unlikely to care about these things. But since it failed to do that — the most basic requirement of a movie like this — I had to look to other means to entertain myself.
Sherlock Holmes is too boring to be a good movie. The plot fails to captivate, and as a result, you have to try to find entertainment and reason to stick with the film elsewhere. The action scenes aren’t fun enough, as they’re either riddled with noticeable CGI or yet another fist fight. I liked the characters and I liked Downey, Jr. as Holmes, but I wanted them all to do something that I cared about. The movie’s just too long and doesn’t have enough purpose to make it worth watching.