There are a lot of choices for your moviegoing dollar this holiday season from James Cameron’s amazing “Avatar” to singing chipmunks to romantic farces that are oh, so “Complicated” for old-er audiences to a slew of potential Academy Award contenders that might leave you “Up in the Air,” but it’s hard not to recommend Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law in the highly-entertaining reboot of “Sherlock Holmes.” And shoot, the nation’s critics agree with a close to 70% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
HitFix’s own Moriarty, er, Drew McWeeny made his own recommendations here, but we’ve got another seven reasons to make you consider Guy Ritchie’s jump at the big time.
1. This isn’t you’re father’s “Sherlock Holmes,” it’s your great-grandfather’s.
But that’s a good thing. Director Guy Ritchie, producer Joel Silver and the film’s screenwriters have brought back some of the “lost” elements of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character including his martial arts skills and bohemian tendencies. And much to the horror of the stereotypical version of Holmes you’ve grown up with, it works.
2. The great Mark Strong is the film’s unheralded villain.
Strong’s turn as the oh, so evil Blackwood is thankfully not over the top, but would we expect anything less him? The actor’s star has been on the rise since roles last year in “RocknRolla” and “Body of Lies.” However, get used to seeing him at your local cineplex. Strong has prominent roles in next year’s “Kick-Ass” and “Robin Hood” and we’ll hardly be complaining about it here.
3. Holmes great weakness is, duh,…a lady.
Irene Adler (the charming Rachel McAdams) could have been a throwaway role for any pretty Hollywood actress, but the filmmakers make her a central part of the film’s story line. In fact, she appears to be one of the few vulnerabilities our hero has which leads to a striking dramatic conflict. Plus, did we mention she can handle herself in a fight as only a lady of her Victorian era could? Or, more appropriately, “should”?
4. The production design, costumes and score are all Oscar-worthy.
The film begins with composer Hans Zimmer showing his stylistic versatility once again in a fresh, but appropriate score that would make John Williams envious. As for the look of the film, would you believe a majority of it was actually shot on sound stages in New York? You’ll have a hard time figuring out what was London and what wasn’t and that’s a huge compliment to two-time Oscar nominee Sarah Greenwood (“Atonement”). As for the apparel, they were only designed by the legendary Jenny Beavan — no one does English “period” better.
5. Stuffy, Victorian England? Hardly.
Director Guy Ritchie and crew create a period England that is as gritty and dangerous as anything you’d experience present-day. Sure, there are a couple of typical harrowing “movie” moments, but who knew even Ritchie could pull those off? This is the man who did “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”? Good show, man.
6. A masterful Robert Downey, Jr.
With this role, Downey Jr. has surpassed Johnny Depp as the most dependable and entertaining actor working in movies today. It’s that simple. And what’s next? Sure, he’s got “Iron Man 2” in May, but he’s just finished shooting director Todd Phillips follow up to “The Hangover,” the expected R-rated comedy “Due Date.” His work as Holmes will more than satisfy in the meantime.
7. Law and Downey, Jr. are the new dynamic duo.
Witty, combative, playful and dramatic, these two actors make Holmes and Watson two of the funnier investigating “buddies” in cinematic history. So much so, we can’t wait to see them back on screen again. ‘Nuff said.
“Sherlock Holmes” is now playing nationwide.