For better or worse. Hey, you remember Sherlock Holmes, right? Stuffy brainiac who plays the violin, wears a lot of tweed and can diagnose a mystery with an uncanny speed that would make the folks at 'CSI' throw their hands up in surrender? Well, the reviews are in for Guy Ritchie's big budget modernization of the Holmes franchise and it appears that version of Sherlock Holmes is gone forever.
For better or worse.
The new 'Sherlock Holmes,' as played by current Hollywood go-to guy Robert Downey Jr., is more of an eccentric, nearly deranged savant than a proper Victorian gentleman. But while Downey and his sidekick Jude Law (who likewise plays a more robust and physical version of dear old Watson) have been getting mostly positive reviews for their work, Ritchie and the film as a whole have been received mostly with weary disappointment. Critics burned by similarly modern steampunk bombs like 'Wild, Wild West' and 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' seem to have been let down one too many times to buy into this new Sherlock Holmes.
Whether or not the ticket buying populace feels the same, of course, is likely to be an entirely different matter, but if you are interested in what the experts had to say, here's a round-up of some of the top critics and their thoughts on this decidedly non-traditional Christmas present.
USA Today: "While this incarnation has visual flair and attitude, it is too modern, and it blithely jettisons Holmes' wit and wisdom."
Entertainment Weekly: "The best thing in the movie is Downey. As Holmes, he's rumpled and amusingly jittery, an investigator who lives on his own plane of perception and can scarcely be bothered with anyone else's. There's an authentic Sherlockian intensity about him."
The Hollywood Reporter: "'Sherlock Holmes' goes wrong in many ways except for one -- at the box office. Credit action uber-producer Joel Silver for recognizing that the only way to revive Sherlock Holmes for contemporary audiences is by turning him into Jason Bourne and hiring someone like Ritchie to overload the senses with chases, fights, effects, editing, bombastic noise and music."
New Yorker: "Guy Ritchie's hyperbolic 'Sherlock Holmes' isn't a movie; it's a franchise. Or, at least, a would-be franchise. Arthur Conan Doyle's material has been grabbed by its velvet collar and thrown into twenty-first-century media culture.
Variety: "If you can get over the idea of Sherlock Holmes as an action hero -- and if, indeed, you want to -- then there is something to enjoy about this flagrant makeover of fiction's first modern detective into a man of brawn as much as brain."
Rolling Stone: "Ritchie is all about the whooshing and headbanging, leaving no space between Holmes' words to savor their meaning. Downey is irresistible. The movie, not so much."
New York Post: "'Sherlock Holmes' dumbs down a century-old synonym for intelligence with S&M gags, witless sarcasm, murky bombast and twirling action-hero moves that belong in a ninja flick"
Associated Press: "It's nonsense, a dumb Hollywood treatment that's beneath Holmes but is made watchable, even exhilarating at times, by clever chases and scuffles, a superb recreation of old London in its splendor and squalor, and the amiable interplay of the actors."