Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Film Review: Young Sherlock Holmes [1985]

EDIT (2013): WARNING - I wrote these reviews aaaaages ago and possibly don't even agree with them any more.  I have since discovered that one sentence reviews are a lot more fun.  Please see One Sentence Film Reviews tab.

What would have happened if Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson had met as schoolboys?  I can take an educated guess that it wouldn’t have been anything like this pointless film.

It opens by showing us a mysterious hooded figure (clearly a woman) shooting a man with a dart.  He trips out and ultimately kills himself in an attempt to get away from his hallucinations.  Seeing this means we lose out on any deduction and detection that might have been interesting to watch, in this, a detective story about the world’s most famous detective. 

Although don’t get your hopes up about the said detective.  Holmes mumbles his lines and lacks any charisma.  When you look into Holmes’ eyes, you should see fiery intelligence; in Nicholas Rowe, you see sleepiness.  This is a terrible piece of miscasting and really drags the film down.  Not that the film exactly soars particularly high without him.  Watson is better, and at least watchable. 

Not so for the narration of an older Watson, which thoroughly ruins every scene it talks over.  He constantly chuckles, despite the events of the film being quite horrific and scary for the children involved, and he fills gaps in the script where having some film would be better.  He actually narrates what Holmes is telling Watson, while Holmes is telling Watson, so that Rowe has to be faded out in order to hear.  This truly is the most ghastly narration I have ever heard.

But it’s not as if what the narration is ruining is that good anyway.  In general, Young Sherlock Holmes is boring.  SPOILER ALERT.  It’s obvious who the villain is, because there isn’t anyone else in the film.  It is obvious that Holmes’s girlfriend Elizabeth is going to die, because we all know Holmes isn’t interested in love when he’s grown up.  And yet, among this obvious plot, we are supposed to swallow ancient Egyptians.  What?  Why?  Ancient Egyptians, in a pyramid, in London, sacrificing young women?  What the hell is going on?  Oh, and of the five women who are going to be killed, all five of them are killed.  Well done there, Holmes.

It’s a silly yet boring and predictable story, with some awful decisions (like the narration), and bland characters who pretty much fail to save the day, lacking any of the points that make Sherlock Holmes so well loved (like charisma, intelligence or wit).  Still, hang in there won’t you, for the post-credit sequence.  Yawn.

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