I first heard of this movie from a couple of my colleagues in Melbourne. They said it was a must watch and I put it on my list of movies to watch. It released in Bangalore theatres a few weeks later.
After failed attempts to find either the time or a fellow-enthusiast to watch the movie, I'd nearly given up until my manager from Melbourne landed in Bangalore one fine day. I decided to drag him along and watch it, me for the first time and he second. A colleague of mine offered to go with me, so I spared him the torture for the moment. Soon after, I realized that whereas the offer had been made, she had no real intentions of honouring it. Fortunately for me, I went back to Mr. Melbourne on my original plan and he agreed to accompany me.
To cut a long story short, I almost went alone to the movie but ended up with enjoyable company. The movie itself was great. The perseverance was worth it. Money well-spent.
My first impression of Robert Downey Jr., as Sherlock Holmes, was "What?? This guy?!?" He was nowhere close to the picture of the detective Sherlock Holmes I've carried in my mind, since my school-days when I'd devoured all of Sherlock Holmes stories from dad's library. This guy was shorter, looked older and was nothing like I'd expected! Jude Law as Dr. Watson surprised me too. Wasn't Dr. Watson supposed to be shorter, stubbier and definitely not so cute? I wondered why the characters had received rave reviews on the internet. I hoped the movie would not disappoint me.
In the next few minutes, I found myself engulfed in the story. The old picture of Sherlock Holmes in my head was replaced by the new, effortlessly. Jude Law, I realized, was not as cute in this movie as he was in The Holiday. He made a good Dr. Watson (a little fleshier might have been good too but hell, he is good). Rachel McAdams, as Irene Adler, and Kelly Reilly, as Mary Morstan (Dr. Watson's fiancee), were perfect casting, as were all the other characters. At one point, when the husband said that Mark Strong a.k.a Lord Henry Blackwood might have made a better Sherlock Holmes, I was inclined to agree. By the end of the movie, however, I did not quite have any issues with the existing cast. It hung together quite well. Strong had a sinister feel to his character, a great deal of his acting expressed through his face, which was not really required of Holmes.
Reviews had warned me that this was not one of Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, so I went with an open mind. As Wikipedia enlightened me later, the movie-makers had used details from a number of Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes stories to make the movie. Holmes character has been tweaked a bit to highlight some of his idiosyncrasies. He is also more humane. He makes mistakes, is hoodwinked at times and screws up. None of these manage to overshadow his incredibly sharp mind or the demeanour that makes up Sherlock Holmes.
The story, although new, has retained the typical style of an adventure that one identifies with Sherlock Holmes, yet is refreshing at the same time. It has all the elements of a movie and it has all the elements of the books. I went through a range of emotions akin to disbelief, surprise and relief as the story unfolded before me, on the big screen. At various points in the movie, I was sceptical about certain aspects, felt compelled to accept some inconceivable occurrences and relieved when an incredulous event revealed a more meaningful explanation.
The movie finishes with loose ends tied up and the mystery resolved, with a moral that screams 'good triumphs evil'. It also leaves one loose string, as had the book for so many years. I wonder if there will be another movie and if there is, if the professor will die or stay in the shadows until all of Hollywood is satisfied that they have milked Doyle's character dry.
I can't wait to watch the earlier movies of Sherlock Holmes now. I've promised myself I won't miss any new ones there may be. I feel the same thrill I felt back when I read the books.
Have movies gotten better or am I over-excited? I don't know but this is the third movie, that is also a book, that I have watched in the last one year and I have loved. The next and only movie on my list is My Name Is Khan, starring Shahrukh Khan and Kajol. It's got some fantastic reviews. Anybody listening?