Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Game Is Afoot!

Robert Downey, Jr., in the role of super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes

Nope, today's post isn't about feet, fellow babies... nor is it quite as scatter-shot as my last post!

Let me start off by saying that I was interested in seeing the latest filmed version of Sherlock Holmes, as portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. in the 2009 movie directed by Guy Ritchie. Downey is one of my favorite modern actors. Hell, if he'd done nothing but Chaplin I'd probably still say that! Unfortunately, as most of you are aware, by the time of the flick's Christmas release I was concerned with much more important things than a trip to the cinema.

In fact, the last time I even went to a movie theater was in 2008, when Downey starred in the first Iron Man film. (Can it really be two years since that came out?!?)

It's no secret that I'm a long-time comic book fan, but that doesn't necessarily carry over into the film world. There are a lot of comic book concepts adapted for the "big screen" that I've never bothered to see. A list of what I've neglected to watch from just the last fifteen years or so would probably amaze you.

Besides, this was "my" Iron Man, from when I was a kid. The "golden era" of the "Golden Avenger," in my mind. That ignores most of the last forty years, with a few multi-issue exceptions here and there.

So I didn't have much interest in seeing the Iron Man movie, either, until I heard that Robert Downey, Jr. had been cast as Tony Stark, a/k/a Iron Man. That made me decide to see it. And I certainly wasn't disappointed, although I must admit that I didn't go as "ga-ga" over it as did many others who saw it.

But enough about Iron Man! I've digressed, obviously, but not completely, because predictably (for me), a lot of my early exposures to the character of Sherlock Holmes came via comic books, too! I won't bore you with the details (for a change), so I'm going to throw a few visual examples at you. That way, if you're one of the many comic book fans who read this site, you should get a kick out of them, but if you're not a comic book fan, you can look at some purty pictures and not get bogged down slogging through a lot of my usual text. On the other hand, if you care to read two of them -- the MAD parody and the DC Comics version from 1975, I've provided links in the appropriate photo captions. (Both stories are under copyright protection, so I have not reprinted them here!)

My earliest exposure to Mr. Holmes may have
been "Shermlock Shomes," one of several features
in a MAD paperback which reprinted classic stories
from that magazine's early comic book incarnation.

This edition of Classics Illustrated was published
several years before it found its way into my
eleven-year-old hands!

I never got hold of this one, but I thought
that the cover was too cool not to include!

This was a 1975 one-shot from DC Comics.
Read it here, if you like!

Twelve years later, in 1987, DC Comics celebrated
the 50th anniversary of Detective Comics with a multi-parter
that included a Holmes story presumably intended for the
never-published second issue of their ill-fated Sherlock Holmes title.

The historic meeting of Batman and Mr. Holmes!

So, now that the comic book cover gallery is done, what's my freakin' point (assuming I have one)?

Well, I do, and it's this:

I own most of the original Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan O'Brien -- Oops! Sorry, that's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, silly me! -- but typically, I haven't gotten around to reading a whole heckuva lot of them. And admittedly, even my tally as far as having seen any or all of the previous movie and TV versions of the character is relatively limited.

Therefore, my pre-conceived notions of the way Holmes "should" be portrayed are rather nebulous, so I don't have any of the objections some raised when news of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie hit the press. (You know, those people who hate something before they've even seen it?)

So, fellow babies, since the only "review" I got of Sherlock Holmes was from a friend who didn't even like it enough to watch it until the end... Did you see it? And should I bother?

Yup, believe it or not... I'm asking for advice!

Thanks for your time... and your hoped-for input.


  1. eh, all depends on what you are looking for in the movie...if you dont carry a lot of holmes baggage it is fairly well played....not for everyone...i would rent it for sure...

  2. Ask Mr. Toast. I remember him saying he hated it. I think he wrote a post on it way back then.

    I love the comic book cover with Sherlock and Batman looking over his shoulder...very cool.

  3. I watched it (on DVD from the library) and wasn't impressed. Too over the top for me, and a lot of very weird, irrelevant-to-the-period stuff going on. Jude Law did an interesting interpretation of Dr. Watson, but Downey's acting was just bad. I'm sorry if you're a fan, but I just didn't buy the character he portrayed. Not just as Holmes, but as anybody. I strongly suspect he spent most of the movie snorting coke in the men's room each time before he stepped in front of the camera. He was hyperkinetic and disjointed and at times just plain incoherent. I'm glad I didn't spend any money on it.

  4. The offspring and I enjoyed it very much.

  5. Thanks for the input so far, folks. (By the way, Megan, while you were reading my latest post, I was coincidentally reading yours!)

  6. I also like Robert Downey Jr and had been looking fwd to his Holmes Movie. I waited and saw it on DVD which I was glad in retrospect. I was a litle dissappointed. I would have preffered more deducing and less action. His performance was very good as always. I reccommend the movie to anyone that is a fan of Downey. But would caution a die hard Sherlock Holmes fan.

    Can I say I am new to reading your blog and am enjoying it very much :)

  7. @Karen D: Welcome to my convoluted mind! If there's one thing I can say that my blog delivers, it's variety. I like your profile photo, by the way. Perhaps you'd enjoy some of my posts about Herman Melville and "Moby-Dick?"

  8. I looked forward to it as well particularly with the casting which intrigued me. I should have known it would be ahem unconventional when I heard Guy Ritchie was directing. I have hated every one of his movies (well, all two I've seen til this). I didn't hate this but I thought it was a waste of talent and a ridiculous approach to make Sherlock Holmes relevant and exciting. Personally, if the audience cannot think with Holmes, then what is the point?

    A very fine approach to the Holmes story and relationship with Watson was made many moons ago, "The Seven Per Cent Solution".

  9. Wow I do know someone who'd be a little more than envious of your comic collection. Frankly, I've not seen the end of it and tried twice. Despite the charms of Robert Downey Jnr. Yawn.

  10. So, the impression I'm getting here is that I should only watch it if I'm a Downey fan, but not to get my hopes up. Thanks, folks!

  11. Didn't see it. Didn't want to. Still don't.

  12. In re: Ritchie - Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is mandatory. If only for the soundtrack. :)

    Ritchie is one of those guys that his films are always going to be worse the bigger budget he gets. You know what I mean?

    But I still think this incarnation of Holmes was just fine.

  13. Well, I've decided I'll see it... eventually.

    @Megan: Good point about Ritchie. Certain filmmakers seem to deliver better product when the financial backing is relatively limited.

  14. You have made me miss my Classics illustrated comics.It is a grey afternoon here and I would like to leaf throught them.As these were the only comics I was allowed to buy I think I had just about all of them.They got tossed along with
    most of my chilhood books when I left home which was several life times ago. I like Downey Jr as an actor..very talented.

  15. David,
    I loved the movie...although it was not true to the traditional versions of Sherlock Holmes...but it was a fast moving action film that required the viewer to pay attention. Certainly better than much of what is released in the action-genre nowadays. The script even made Jude (one of the most boring actors of the current generation) Law, seem interesting.


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