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Sherlock Holmes: Ritchie reclaims the original Dynamic Duo

I got the opportunity to see Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes recently and, about a day later, it occurs to me that, with only a little bit of tweaking here and there, this could easily be a killer Batman and Robin movie. More on that later.

Fan's of the icon of what the character of Sherlock Holmes has become over the years will get quite a surprise at Guy Ritchie's take - which I'm informed is much closer to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original vision of the character but probably not your vision.

Like most people I've always thought of Sherlock Holmes as a stuffy, upper class, Englishman, solving crimes largely from the comfort of his own drawing room. Yes I know he does get out and about too but when I think of Sherlock that's what comes to mind - Deer Stalker cap and Callabash pipe not withstanding.

Unlike some of you I haven't seen a lot of Sherlock Holmes on TV or in movies but I have read one or two of Sir Arthur's short stories which, from memory, were entirely set in the detectives home - hence my view of the character.

Guy Ritchie presents us with a very different Sherlock (played by Robert Downey Jr.). He's still something of an upper class wanna be but is perhaps more at home in the middle to lower classes of the 1890's (when this is set). He's unkempt and dysfunctional when not working on a case but highly competent when he is.

Equally Doctor Watson (played by Jude Law) is not the fat bumbling old man TV audiences are used to but a highly capable war doctor who can hold his own in a fight better than most save for, perhaps, Sherlock himself.

The film is gritty, set in the industrial and some-what claustrophobic streets of London, intelligent and action packed. It's very much in Guy Ritchie's trademark English gangster movie style and it works well.

I don't really need to outline the plot too much. If you love Sherlock Holmes then that's all you need to know. It's your favorite character solving a mystery. Go see it!!

If you do need a little more then the film opens with Holmes and Watson hot on the trail of the potentially supernatural Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a serial, ritual sacrifice murderer who has plans to change the world as we know it (surprise, surprise - world domination - who'd have thought it).

Along the way you'll meet Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the only criminal ever to out smart Holmes, and get glimpses of Holmes' arch nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (the actor is strangely uncredited on the Internet Movie Database).

It's a fun but confusing ride - at least for the first hour - confusing that is, the whole movie is fun. Although we see almost everything Holmes sees, he doesn't always tell us everything that he's noticed. In that respect the audience isn't informed of Holmes' plans - much like Holmes doesn't always keep Watson in the loop either.

I found that aspect frustrating because it creates what I call the 'Scooby Doo ending' where the details of how the villain's plans were carried out are retold in review. At the same time I can see why this has been done.

Holmes is the world's greatest detective (arguably). Each time the film pause's to review we get to see just how much further ahead Holmes is with solving the case than the rest of us. Personally I think it will be interesting to see how much one notices the first time around (of what Holmes is noticing) upon a second viewing.

Another point of minor frustration is that on many occasions Holmes' power of statistical probability calculating seems so refined that he appears to be able to accurately predict the immediate future.

This is best illustrated in a couple of fight sequences where Holmes formulates his knock blows several moves in advance, accurately predicting his opponents reactions to the letter. It's a little far fetched because we see his thoughts visualized exactly as they are carried out moments later. His opponent's moves never even vary slightly.

The way this movie's story pans out it's clearly set up for one or two sequels (at the time of writing this a second movie had been confirmed for a 2011 release). Whilst Moriarty has a very ominous presence in this film he's not the central villain. He's here clearly to establish the threat to Holmes but as yet he isn't of great or immediate concern.

That said this movie doesn't finish open ended. You will get closure on the mystery at hand.

Whilst this version of Sherlock Holmes is far from what you may be familiar with and you may spend much of the film struggling just to believe that you're watching a Sherlock Holmes movie, Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock is still a great and interesting character. Everything is there that you would expect of a Sherlock Holmes mystery the only difference being that this Holmes is more human and charismatic rather than a stuffy enigma - and he doesn't wear a hunting cap in the city.

So that's my review, now, let's get back to this Batman and Robin thought that I mentioned at the beginning...

.... oh, first, one bug bear... why is it that, with every great male duo, some retard (yes I wrote 'retard') always suggests the two might be in a secret gay relationship? Holmes and Watson, Batman and Robin. Guys have befriended guys as their inseparable best friends for as long anyone understood what friendship actually means - it doesn't mean they're doing each other. You can actually enjoy another guy's friendship so much that you just can't imagine life without them.

Right Batman... In Sherlock Holmes the dynamic between Holmes and Watson as crime fighters is very much the kind of dynamic I'd like to see in a Batman and Robin movie. There's a somewhat volatile relationship yet the two recognize that they either need each other or just simply enjoy the bond created when they're on a case. Holmes and Watson back each other up and Holmes uses Watson as a sounding board for his theories.

That's the kind of relationship Batman and Robin should have - not the whiny teenager we got from Chris O'Donnell in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.

Onto the rest of my theory that Sherlock Holmes script could have been a killer Batman and Robin movie.

First Batman is considered the (arguably) world's greatest detective. People love to see Batman use detective skills just like Holmes. This version of Sherlock Holmes also features a lot of action packed fight sequences with Holmes and Watson fighting side by side - just like Batman and Robin.

The movie has a master female villain in Irene Adler. The only women to outsmart Holmes and is also his potential love interest - Cat Women anyone?

Lord Blackwood seems intent on spreading fear and uses some fairly simplistic devices to create explosions. He even employs the use of gas as a murder weapon... potential Joker perhaps or at least Ra's Al Ghul (since Blackwood is the leader of a secret society)?

Finally Holmes has a partner inside the Police force (Inspector Lestrade) willing to help him out. Sound familiar? Jim Gordon?

As I said, with a little bit of tweaking this could be a really cool Batman and Robin script. One hopes that any director charged with bringing Robin into the current Batman franchise might take a look at Sherlock Holmes to see how a dynamic duo can be done... and done well.

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