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Sherlock Holmes 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Sherlock Holmes
Permit me to pre-barf now, based on the trailers:

Puuuke

This is an eerie reenactment of a comic I posted a link to recently: http://www.xkcd.com/633/ . Let me lay bare the thesis: All true heroes are buff macho men or women who kick ass and swing their way Tarzan-like through impossible action scenes.

Is Hollywood being held hostage by the Stuntpersons Union?

So a Sherlock Holmes movie is, naturally, a movie about a guy with a funny accent kicking ass through Victorian London. More than enough variety there to distinguish it from, say, XXX, or Charlie's Angels - Full Throttle, right?

I know, I know - modern audiences don't have brains so how can they be expected to relate to someone who makes a living off of his. Sometimes I feel like building a fallout shelter and retiring to it with a 12-gauge and a decent library for a few years.


Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:44 pm
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
I dunno. I am a fairly serious Sherlockian and can put on any of the serious fan, serious scholar or loopy Sherlockian hats at a moment's notice. It's difficult to take these often trite, inconsistent and sometimes just plain goofy stories too seriously... but it can be great fun to do so.

I think the world has had enough interpretations of Sherlock Scott Holmes, Esq. and John Hamish Watson, B.M. that portrayed them as stiff-upper-lipped models (nay, caricatures) of Victorian propriety and behavior. We've also had enough versions that show them as deerstalkered and bowlered buffoons.

As nearly as I can tell, the filmmakers are not going THAT far away from the originals. ACD never bothered to write any action scenes, just languid conversations about how Holmes used his baritsu experience to dispatch half a dozen ruffians. Wouldn't it be nice to SEE him do it? Wouldn't it be nice to SEE Holmes in disguise, acting as a sailor or navvy or drunken groom? Wouldn't it be nice to SEE Holmes put his many described skills into action?

You also seem to be confusing Sherlock with his brother - Mycroft was the one who used ONLY his brain and disdained little bro's described but rarely seen preference for wearing out shoe leather and getting his hands bruised.

You need to keep in mind that trailers can be quite misleading. Of course they're going to sell it on all the dramatic action scenes. I am confident there is much more - because I've read some long interviews with the principals who take pains to assure the audience that there is. RDJr in particular has said he's slightly embarrassed by the way the trailers sum things up.

I look forward to what looks like a very fun and fresh take on some very tired material. You can always retire to the library with the Basil Rathbone collection if it turns out badly.

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Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:37 pm
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
JamesGifford wrote:
As nearly as I can tell, the filmmakers are not going THAT far away from the originals. ACD never bothered to write any action scenes, just languid conversations about how Holmes used his baritsu experience to dispatch half a dozen ruffians. Wouldn't it be nice to SEE him do it? Wouldn't it be nice to SEE Holmes in disguise, acting as a sailor or navvy or drunken groom? Wouldn't it be nice to SEE Holmes put his many described skills into action?

Sure, if said acts didn't have to be punctuated every thirty seconds with an explosion destroying half of Whitechapel.
Quote:
You need to keep in mind that trailers can be quite misleading. Of course they're going to sell it on all the dramatic action scenes. I am confident there is much more - because I've read some long interviews with the principals who take pains to assure the audience that there is. RDJr in particular has said he's slightly embarrassed by the way the trailers sum things up.

RDJr is one of my favorites, despite his lemming-like tendencies (or maybe because of them; after all, self-destruction does have a noble heritage among artistes - vide Hemmingway, et al). So maybe I'll give it a chance. But I'm walking out at the first slow-motion martial arts shot.


Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:04 am
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
For an example of an expertly drawn character that has no intersection with the kick-ass world every other hero inhabits, see USA Network's Monk. The layering of the character and the interplay of the nuances of his condition with his personal history and how he simultaneously irritates and fosters the empathy of the viewer are a joy to behold. And he demonstrates a capacious post-Sherlockian problem-solving ability.


Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:12 am
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
I think you also have to take into account that it has been (re)written and directed by Guy Ritchie (or the ex Mr Madonna as you guys may know him!), Guy is a VERY englishman, and grew up on Sherlock Holmes stories (so he says in tv interviews) and wanted to give it a "modern spin". He normally specialised in british gangster movies, Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels is considered a classic over here. So this will be an interesting one to see for me. My wife quite fancies it too - she swears it has "Nothing to do with Robert Downie Junior"!

Mmmmm an American doing a British accent. He is supposed to be quite good. But WE STILL remember Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (need I say more!)


Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:40 am
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
There has been much hooting at the slomo martial arts stuff. My understanding is that they are used in the following fashion: Slomo as Holmes describes blow by blow how he is going to deal with the thug, then full speed as he does so. I can see that being amusing and a refreshing use of the technology.

Monk, IMHO, jumped the shark (aka nuked the fridge) about its third season. The main character's affliction was retooled for every script, with little consistency about what he could and could not do. About the third or fourth time he acquired a new affliction from nowhere that just coincidentally ended up being a key turning point in the episode's plot, I started to lose patience. They also retconned his affliction - for the first few seasons it was something largely brought on by his breakdown after his wife was killed, and then it slowly evolved into something he'd been affected by all his life. This changed some of the fundamentals of the early character development and reasoning and further tested my patience. Then when they started mucking with his wife's death (reasons for, changed by episode; actuality of, toyed with by various villains) I pretty much gave up. I also think the heavy-handed firings over salary after the second season(?) ruined a great dynamic balance purely because EP Shaloub was a tight-fisted ass. I don't think the show ever quite recovered from losing Bitty Schram; if Shaloub thought she was a replaceable hand puppet he was wrong. I liked the show... and hated to dislike it, but it sailed over that shark with plenty of clear air.

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Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:43 pm
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
KeithJones923 wrote:
Lock Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels is considered a classic over here.

One of my very favorite films. I love the genre in which three or four factions are set up and then crashed into each other; this one is hands-down the best such ever done. When "Zorba's Dance" starts, the next ten minutes are as good as film ever gets.

In other words, Guy Ritchie helming this film is a big, big plus in my book.

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:47 pm
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
Well, I will never give up either Basil Rathbone (childhood nostalgia and what got me reading the stories) or Jeremy Brett (at least before the producers mucked it up), but I'm willing to give it a go. At the least, there is a long tradition of Holmes pastiche this could fit very neatly into....but I can already see the multiple paperback reprints of Doyle sporting the logo "Now a Major Motion Picture" and the hordes of confused readers not recognizing the real Holmes....

...and the handful of new True Believers as a result....


Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:17 am
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
I bought the 2-volume Annotated Sherlock Holmes over 30 years ago and devoured it. My interest in things Holmesian has waned since then, but I'm still interested in checking out this movie. I thought the recent reimagining of Star Trek was good, and I hope this one is too.

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Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:56 am
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Post Re: Sherlock Holmes
Saw the film today and wanted to post some general comments. I will hide spoilers in this post; if anyone wants to continue the discussion before, oh, the first of the year please start a spoiler thread or similarly hide your spoilage.

The movie is great fun and for at least the first two-thirds is, IMHO, a brilliant reimagining of the canon. It is NOT, thank Ghu, an origin story; the history and friendship of Holmes and Watson is quite mature and, indeed, is beginning to fray. The sets and scapes are wonderfully authentic, although a Londoner or historian might pick at them.

Both main characters are presented with vices and virtues intact, although some of the vices are mentioned only in passing. Law is a truly refreshing Watson, every bit Holmes' equal and an anchor to the classically misanthropic and careless Holmes. Downey's Holmes is the one rarely seen in the Canon; as I suspected, Guy Ritchie has turned the stories around so that instead of hearing about Holmes' feats in languid drawing-room chat, we see him in action. I spotted very little that was not Canonical, although some things were turned up to eleven.

Downey's accent is very good, never failing and never going Cockney; I suspect it sounds tin to real Englishers but it's very good by American-in-Hollywood standards. Jude Law does not even seem to attempt an accent, letting his naturally precise diction carry the day.

The Rachel McAdams character is the weak spot in all facets. First, she is too lightweight an actress to pull off a dashing, beautiful, brilliant femme foil for Downey - she's never quite believable even when the script and setting is. To begin with, she is recast from the Irene Adler of the one great short story into a recurring love/foil of Holmes', a "gentleman criminal" of sorts with a long mutual history. Her role is just barely believable for the first three-quarters, and devolves into one of the truly silly and excessive parts of the film in the last half-hour. Her accent is American-on-Broadway fluffy and unconvincing.

The MacGuffin of the movie's latter half is... well, I won't spoil, but it's not a WMD intended to blow up London. It's something smaller and not wholly unbelievable in the context of the story. There are no outsized explosions or other extreme plot devices, barring one warehouse explosion that stays just inside the lines of reason. Even the super secret "real" MacGuffin is a believable evolvement.

The other cast - the bad guy, his henchmen, Lestrade and a beat constable elevated to a fairly significant role are all wonderful. And in the end, when Holmes unravels all the tangled skeins of the plots and planning and apparent occult happenings, it's in absolutely classic ACD/Rathbone/Brett fashion.

The slow motion is used as I believed, as a setup to the real action. Slomo is only used in one dramatic sequence and then as a believability enhancer (a character is knocked silly and is having trouble perceiving the world around them). More than once, Ritchie uses a delightful technique of having something apparently improbable happen, then having Holmes (back in the drawing room) describe (to visual re-enactment) the exact, lengthy sequence of events that were happening "back of the camera" as it were.

Other than some rather strenuous activities in the end sequence, Holmes, Watson and the other main characters do not evolve into superhero types. The last third of the film gets a little more Hollywood than Doyle, but if the sequels focus on the tone of the first two thirds and play down the extreme bits towards the end, we're in for a truly delightful two or three films in this set.

So, Peter's not entirely wrong but discounting the over-the-top latter portion of McAdams' role and a very few fight and explosion scenes that pull out the stops, what's left is a fun and refreshing reboot of the tired old Holmes canon, shorn of nearly every excrescence Gillette, Rathbone and the horde of copycats brought to the role. There are strong flashes of the Jeremy Brett characterization - in fact, Audrey and I both swear that a number of significant store signs etc. from the Brett sets are present in this incarnation. I suspect someone very familiar with the Rathbone films would see a few homages, too.

And - not at all inappropriately - there are flashes of "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" as well. As well as one line blatantly, mordantly, extravagantly stolen from another recent movie franchise. I'll put it here in InvisoText: When Lord Blackwood is about to be hung, he intones, "Death... is only the beginning." It gets a big laugh in an otherwise very dark and intense scene. Invisotext Done.

Fun. Does no damage to the classical layers of Holmes while bringing much freshness to the concepts. Has a great studio-ID opening sequence and wonderful end credits. Needed a stronger actor, maybe Carrie Moss or Natalie Portman, in the female role.

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"Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders." - Luther
In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:49 pm
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