We tend to forget that even when Big Brother started, it was a huge social experiment, unlike anything which had been on TV before. I still remember being about 13, and seeing billboards literally EVERYWHERE with the giant eye logo. I even remember quite liking the theme song. Now, however, I cringe whenever I hear it; there's something about this kind of TV that just sets my teeth on edge. I only like X Factor et al during the auditions phase (or as my dad calls it, 'the freaks and geeks round'). It's inescapable though, and for most reality TV shows I could tell you who was in, who was out and who was getting it on- without even glimpsing at an episode. Even my mum watched the full series of X Factor despite hating it, just to know what everyone else was talking about in work the next day.
ANYWAY, I'm veering off track slightly. After an interesting hour or so of reality TV, we finished nice and early, in time to catch a showing of....dun dun DUUUNNNN!...Sherlock Holmes! I'd been waiting since its release to see this film- in fact, I wanted to see it at least three times- but every time I tried I was thwarted- or skint. I jumped at the chance to finally see it, along with Julia and Flick (who was seeing it for the...fourth time? Jealous!). I'd even put the fact it was a Guy Ritchie movie to the back of my mind, as the appearance of Robert Downey Jr more than compensated for that. And BOY, am I glad I did! In fact, the only scene which reeks of Ritchie is Holmes' bare knuckle boxing fight in the local fleapits, but even this is choregraphed to devastating effect.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh on ol' Ritchie- after all, I did quite like Lock Stock. And anyone who can tolerate being in the same room as Madonna deserves a frickin' medal. With this latest feature, he even made me warm to- I kid you not- Jude Law. His performance is something of a revelation; invoking sympathy as he gets dragged along apologising for Holmes' every gaffe, and putting in a charming, witty and vivacious performance as the 'straight man'. Robert Downey Jr, on the other hand, puts in a rollicking, powerhouse performance as Holmes. It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, his name was synonymous with wasted (literally) talent- now he's an ass-kicking action star? An unusual choice for Holmes, yes- but it's part of the appeal. I'd seen an adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles with Richard Roxburgh (the evil duke from Moulin Rouge) on TV a few years ago- it was good, and I really enjoyed it, but there wasn't any variation on the usual Holmes/Watson set-up. Here, however, the relationship is lively and engaging; their incessant bickering only proving how much they actually care for each other, deep down.
This is where Ritchie throws in two unneccessary female characters into the mix- to prove that Holmes and Watson are DEFINITELY NOT GAY, MIDDLE-AMERICA. Watson's fiancee Mary is nice enough but she brings nothing to the mix- simpering through meeting Holmes for the first time, the only interesting thing here is watching Watson's reaction. Rachel McAdams, as Holmes' enignatic former flame Irene Adler, is fine, but her role could have been so much more interesting. Their mysterious past relationship could have been prime material for juicy storytelling; instead she is merely a 'love interest' and a means to introduce Holmes' arch-villain Moriarty. Shame, really.
The story, too, was a bit flimsy. Our duo, after the execution of despicable villain Lord Blackwood, are in a state of flux. Holmes hasn't taken on a case for months, Watson is moving out to another premises, when suddenly strange happenings lead them to believe he may not be as dead as they thought. All in all.... it's kind of...dare I say it....dull?? I think the film works best as a 'buddy movie', and is complicated by too many half-baked subplots. It also seemed like the whole thing was a lead-in to a sequel- we were never really going to see the shadowy figure of Moriarty; why should we, when there are so many Holmes stories to spin out into further movies? That aside, the film's climax atop a half-built Tower Bridge was thrilling- one shot where Irene nearly lurches over the edge nearly caused my breakfast to do the same. The action, when it arrives, is a popping powder-keg of excitement, and chases through the mysterious backstreets of Old London is enticing, seductive and dangerous.
One thing I absolutely loved about this film was its style. Victorian London is re-imagined as dark, mucky, richly gothic and even kind of sexy...! Every alleyway leads somewhere the audience and characters know shouldn't be ventured into... but we know they're going to, anyway. The whole film reeks of atmosphere. I love the characters' style too; the Victorian-dandy-steampunk look adds a modern twist to the usually stale and stuffy period drama costume. Adler's dresses too, are sumptuous and extravagant (because she's American and therefore exotic) and her strange pirate get-up at the end is perfect for swinging from Tower Bridge whilst retaining a steely charm. Plus, as the name of this bloggy-blog may suggest, Holmes even has a bowler hat similar to mine. AWESOME. I'm going to wear it all the time from now on, as RDJ's seal of approval far outweighs any mocking from certain corners about mines being a 'Michael Jackson hat'. Who knows, by the time the sequal rolls around, I may even be strolling about with a cane...