About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Elementary, My Dear Watson

I'd rather liked the coming attraction for Sherlock Holmes (seen Thu. evening Jan, 7, 2010 at the AMC Empire, Aud. #13). It struck me as a nifty Indiana Jones style re-working of the concept. From the reviews and word of mouth, I wasn't certain of greatness, but I had real expectations.

No such luck. Within the first ten minutes I had a feeling I was going to be in for a long night in the movie seat, and this proved to be true.

First warning sign was that the movie didn't set out to provide some independent cinematic life to the Holmes character. We're thrust into a scene a little bit reminiscent of Temple of Doom, with not so much as a parsec of time devoted to establishing anything about the characters or the background of what we're seeing. My plot bible is Writing To Sell by Scott Meredith, the first thing you're supposed to have is an identifiable lead character, and this movie required me to bring my identification in with me.

The second thing you're supposed to have is an important plot problem, something of urgency that must be solved but cannot. Sherlock Holmes, he's a detective, you establish urgency just by having somebody hire him. But this movie doesn't do that. It stumbles along from incident to incident, taking its sweet time before eventually reaching a plot problem somewhat reminiscent of V for Vendetta.

I react particularly badly to books or films that stumble along as this does, with lots of things happening only without a good structural underpinning. Sometimes that's cost me; there are some books that have sold which I've passed on for reasons very similar to my discomfort with this movie. So why not people who've had more fun with this movie than I.

Still... when Stakeout has its big sawmill finale, I don't recall it seeming as forced as when Sherlock puts its characters into a fight in drydock. It doesn't make sense to have characters running around underground tunnels beneath Parliament and then finding that they've ended up atop a bridge under construction. Do we need a bird to show up to symbolize death?

Sherlock Holmes has always been a malleable character. I remember a series of books "Sherlock Holmes Bridge Detective" from my youth, he can be an action movie hero. But this should have been better.

And I have to mention the coming attractions. I believe there were seven of them, and it has to be something of a record because not one of the seven excited me. Iron Man 2 just looks bad. I'm not sure if Clash of the Titans is bad, but even if it's good it's not for me. The trailer for Embracing Miracles embraced so many cliches that I'm now not anticipating a movie that had intrigued me from the poster. And so on.


Myke said...

You should probably take this moment to let your audience know that you didn't like 300 either, just so they can understand where your tastes are grounded.

Kyle White said...

I've been waiting for your take on Sherlock Holmes and find that we're in agreement. I wanted the movie to be better, but it never was.

Also, I felt Robert Downey Jr was the wrong casting for the movie. He brings too much baggage with him.

The Brillig Blogger said...

300 was indeed awful. & that being said, I saw Sherlock Holmes with Peter V. Brett, a 300 fan whose tweet twiiter.com/pvbrett on Holmes was "Of 2 minds about Holmes. The awesome parts were very much so, but the rest... Sigh." Peter liked the pre-hash in the fight scenes describing how things went. Nice. I didn't like as much because there's that thing about how a battle plan never survives the first encounter with the enemy. I didn't mind Robert Downey, Jr. Lots of action, lots of talent, he just wasn't given much to do here. And alas, it looks like he won't be doing much good in Iron Man 2, either.