With the release of the latest trailer for director Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, I thought back to my introduction to this franchise, and how I fell in love with this movie in a belated fashion.
The film Sherlock Holmes came to theaters on Christmas day 2009. I had seen the trailers for the film beforehand and they had piqued my interest. The trailers seemed to promise an action-packed take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character, and the fact that he was to be played by Robert Downey Jr. was admittedly a significant part of my interest in the film. However, intriguing as the movie seemed, I would ultimately opt out of seeing it in theaters because of one review.
A note: My family and I devour film reviews and other such discussions of media with relish. We are similar in that we all like to know what we’re getting into when we see a movie. We weigh different opinions against each other and decide if a movie seems worthwhile (with ticket prices being what they are, you can understand our conservatism in our theater-going practices). So, naturally, when Sherlock Holmes came to theaters, we eagerly investigated the review in the paper the next morning. Was the movie as fulfilling as the trailers made it out to be? Or was it a shameful lowest common denominator action flick with the name “Sherlock Holmes” slapped on the package?
The morning following the film’s debut, we were collectively delighted to find a glowing review that praised Downey’s take on Holmes and Ritchie’s take on the franchise. The film had action, yes, but crackling banter and a fascinating look into the ever-ticking mind of the famed detective as well. So positive and eloquent was this review that I was prepared at that point to kick off my slippers and race to the theaters to see it then and there. However, in literally the last two sentences of the review, the author issues a dire warning to parents who fail to take the PG-13 rating seriously. The author states that the film has “some extremely disturbing bits” and a scene in a slaughterhouse “that could well turn a good deal of the audience vegetarian.”
And that, sadly, was the line that turned the lot of us away. Call us wimps, but my family and I have a low threshold for gore and are rarely if ever in the mood to witness something “extremely disturbing”. So we decided to sit this one out.
It wasn’t until the following summer that we rented the movie on a whim and found it to be not only palatable, but highly enjoyable. The leads played off each other incredibly, the action was enthralling, and the musical score by Hans Zimmer was top-notch. And, to our pleasant surprise, the alluded-to gore was veritably nonexistent. So taken with the film was I that I rushed out to Barnes & Noble the next day and purchased an overpriced copy of the DVD with the help of a nearly-full gift card.
[Here are Sherlock Holmes’ ending credits, which beautifully showcase Zimmer’s score and the overall feel of the film.]
Now, over a year since I first saw the film, I eagerly anticipate the second installment, A Game of Shadows. I’m anxious to see if the sequel can match the first film’s wit and engaging atmosphere. In any case, I know I’ll be there opening night, no matter what any critic says.
Read the review here:
(For clarification, I don’t think this is a poor review by any means. It’s quite good, in fact. I simply think that the critic over-emphasizes the impact of a particular scene in the film.)