Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Obviously Ritchie strives to update Sherlock Holmes and imbue this iconic character with a bit of his trademark grittiness, but I must say I am left aghast by the trailer. My disappointment has filled numerous Tweets since I saw the trailer last night, and though I will probably see this, I can’t say I’m excited about the changes made.

For one, Robert Downey Jr’s Holmes is quite irreverent. Holmes may have used cocaine, but he didn’t stumble around London looking disheveled and befuddled. A major, major change (and one the trailer hints at) is the use of the marvelous Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) as Sherlock Holmes’ love interest. Sure, Watson always described Irene as “The Woman,” but Holmes was not interested in romance. I also find Irene waltzing around in a red satin corset absurd–the color and fabric is correct [brief moment in late 1890s when colored corsets were in fashion], but she’s not a show girl. It’s the 1890s; surely the costumer could have found something period and socially correct that was attractive.

However, there are a few incidents within the trailer which I did approve of, such as the inclusion of bartitsu (baritsu to Conan Doyle), an Anglicized form of martial arts created in the late 19th century. I also like the beefing up of Watson (Jude Law) since he was not a bumbling fool. Despite my disappointment, in the end, anything that makes people find the late Victorian/Edwardian era cool is fine with me. What do you think? Like the direction Ritchie has taken the canon? Have you read any Sherlock Holmes? What about the spin-offs (such as Carole Nelson Douglas’s Irene Adler series, or the Mary Russell series written by Laurie R. King)?

Sherlock Holmes arrives in theatres December 25, 2009.


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11 replies on “Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (2009)”
  1. says: Mad Megan

    I am surprisingly disappointed too. This is the first glimpse of the film that I have seen. Based on the poster look, I thought they were going in a darker, more Brooding Holmes direction. This looks like Holmes as directed by McG. Why so broad? Why so comedic? Holmes was wry, I don’t think he’d throw a hammer at a weapon-wielding bully. And I DEFINITELY don’t see him getting chained to a headboard and left for the maid to discover. Why do they insist on re-imagining perfectly timeless characters? Just invent a new Edwardian detective, don’t desecrate the existing one.
    I’ll probably still see it too, but it’ll probably hurt.
    Sidebar, why not just make Jude Law Sherlock? He’d be perfect!

    1. says: Evangeline

      Agree with it all. And I second Jude Law. I know some people aren’t thrilled by his acting, but he looked really good in those period clothes.

      But you know who I’d love to see? Raffles. A few movies were made in the 30s/40s, and a TV series was shown in the 70s I think, but his exploits are right up the alley for making a comedic/”modern” Victorian-set movie. And incidentally, Raffles was created by Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law as an inversion of Sherlock Holmes.

  2. says: Oliver

    I was pleasantly surprised by the trailer. But then, my expectations of a film directed by Guy Ritchie (Swept Away) are ridiculously low. Billy Wilder he is not.

  3. I adore the Irene Adler mysteries. I’ve been waiting for someone to have the good sense to adapt them for TV, perhaps a BBC/A&E co-production or BBC/WGBH. Since the Sherlock Holmes stories are actually set earlier in the 1880’s, I’m surprised that they chose the late 1890’s for the production.

  4. says: MollyHuggins

    I’m a bit of a Sherlockian, having read and reread the Canon and written an MA thesis on it. I’m a big fan of Jeremy Brett as Holmes: to me, his portrayal is closest to ACD’s Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. seems to have turned Holmes into a horrendous mixture of James Bond and Sylvester Stallone! Irene Adler looks like a cheap tart in the trailer, instead of the wily and intelligent femme fatale she is supposed to be. The only one who surprisingly seems all right is Jude Law as Watson. Still, I am curious and am definitely going to see the movie (albeit equipped with a box of rotten tomatoes – in case the urge should arise), but the trailer spells disaster…

  5. says: Sophia

    1. I think Adrian Brody would have made much more sense as Sherlock Holmes.
    2. I love that Jude Law is in this just because he was in one of the Jeremy Brett episodes (impersonating a woman 😛 ) so although I doubt Guy Ritchie was going for this it’s a nice nod back to an iconic Holmes.
    3. WTF? Sherlock Holmes is not an action figure! That’s what makes him fun, that he solves mysteries off of his wits. Actually, what Ritchie did made me go “Oh God, another Scooby Doo” Because let’s face it, the movies butchered that series too by deciding that instead of there being a logical and realistic explanation at the end there should be a supernatural one. I don’t really get why Hollywood thinks their audience is so stupid. What makes characters like Sherlock Holmes–or even James Bond–enduring is that they were different, the first of their kind, so changing Holmes to behave like Bond just doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I get that they want a wide audience, but I think an audience appreciates originality more than they ever do the pale copies of successful films.

    And now I’m going to stop ranting except…why does Rachel McAdams look like she stepped out of a Victoria’s Secret Catalogue, and since when does Holmes have sex? He’s not supposed to be good with people, that’s what Watson’s for! He’s good at solving mysteries!

  6. says: Sal's Girl

    My husband and I have read all the Mary Russell series by Laurie King and we think they are great. The one in Palestine we liked best. Are presently reading the latest book, “The Language Of Bees.”

    I think the trailer looks awful, but then I’ve never been fond of Robert Downey, Jr. I also agree with Mad Megan. I loved Holmes because of his mind and that’s what should be always in the forefront.

  7. says: Erie Baker

    This looks like a disaster movie. However, speaking with my younger classmates who have never read Sherlock Holmes, they are intrigued by a Guy Ritchie-Robert Downey Jr Holmes movie. That said, pity them that this should be their first experience with the character. I agree 100% with Mollyhuggins. Jeremy Brett is, was, and will be the actor who best exemplified the character as conceived by Doyle. I say again, this looks like a disaster movie.

  8. says: Erie Baker

    I had the same thought as Mad Megan. Why revamp Holmes to suit Ritchie’s tastes when really he should have just made up his own Victorian detective hero? Revamping Sherlock Holmes only serves to alienate longterm fans.

  9. says: ABSchimme

    I’m appalled. I saw this trailer in the theater this weekend and the only resemblance to the classic Sherlock Holmes is the name and period costume. It’s a travesty. We’re now going to have an entire generation of people who don’t appreciate the “real” Sherlock Holmes. Who used his head instead of his fists. Who yes, had a bit of a drug habit, but wasn’t a raging coke head. Who would never have been chained to the bed posts (amen, Mad Megan). And b/t/w, Ms. Adler was not the wrote this trailer makes her out to be. She was the one woman – one of the few humans regardless of gender – who bested Holmes. Looks as if none of the characters have been saved the humiliation of Hollywood.

  10. says: ewtr

    Money money money …
    This movie has failed already. This could be called “Tom the superdetective” and be as good, but you know.. you must lure public into paying for cinema by using popular words and names.

    To my mind comes one recent movie where they (movie producers and Co) did the same thing – “Dragonball Evolution” Same idea – use something popular, forget keeping with the original storyline etc.

    I originally saw Holmes in ussr made “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson”. This image is burned into my mind and I can’t imagine him as action hero.

    Ahh.. screw it. Let’s fu**k up Guy Ritchie and just don’t see this movie. If you really want it, download it for free later.

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