Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Pontificator, Incensed

Just a few words expressing--no.

No words can express how incredibly infuriated I am with Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr., and everyone else behind Sherlock Holmes.

Yeah. Sherlock Holmes the movie. The movie due to be released Christmas Day, 2009. The movie that destroys the real Sherlock Holmes and sets up...well, all in due time.

When first I heard about the new movie (trailer here) I was mildly intrigued. Holmes as a character is quite difficult to capture on the big screen, in part because he's usually played by a human actor, and Conan Doyle's Holmes is not quite human. So I was mildly behind the film, because I liked Robert Downey, Jr., in Iron Man, and I wanted to see The Soloist, too.

Then they released the first trailer.

If you haven't seen it, and you haven't clicked the link above yet, do so now, please. It's a travesty. Now if you have never read a Sherlock Holmes story, I'm sorry for you because your life is lacking something, and DON'T READ ANY HOLMES until after you see this movie. You will thank me later.

Now, two points before I continue: 1. I know about not being able to easily translate things from page to screen, etc. I know that's difficult. Hey, one of my favorite movies of all time is an adaptation of a book, and not scrupulously faithful, either (Return of the King.) 2. This could very well be an entertaining movie.

The last statement may be puzzling, but let me deal with my points in order. Yes, I know it's hard to take things from written media and translate them to the screen. Something like Holmes, something as difficult as Holmes, needs to have some alterations: a direct translation would be wooden and maybe rather boring.

But what they seem to have done? Gah. Conan Doyle's Holmes is cold, he's calculating, he's precise, he's logical, he's consistently misogynistic, he's messy, he's brilliant, he's addicted to cocaine and later tobacco, and he's TALL. Conan Doyle's Watson is loyal, he respects Holmes, and he is Holmes' inferior in almost everything.

Ritchie's Holmes, on the other hand, is, from the trailers, "depraved," a ladies' man, startlingly vulnerable, someone who "underestimates the gravity of coming events" (that's not Holmes! he thinks geometrically), a comic character, a "lazy intellectual", "the first superhero", "Tony Stark sucked back in time to turn-of-the-century England". Richie's Watson is cocky, superior to Holmes, unappreciative of Holmes' intellect, and, as Rotten Tomatoes would have it, Holmes' "BFF".

And then there's the matter of, you know, the rest of the film. Richie's plot involves the supernatural, it seems. This I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt, because more than one Holmes story revolves around allegedly supernatural events that are proven to be merely natural and highly "grotesque", to use Holmes' descriptor. And Irene Adler, who's no longer a classy, if mysterious, consort of princes, becomes a vulgar prankstress who tries to murder Holmes.

The verdict, part 1? This is going to be a travesty.

Now for my second, seemingly insane point: the film could be quite entertaining. I'm not saying I'll be entertained by it: but it will possibly be entertaining, could garner good reviews, could make a lot of money. The thing is, there are elements of Holmes for all the casual Holmes-philes out there, there's humor for the action-comedy fans out there, there's supernatural-type-stuff for all the supernatural-type-stuff fans out there, there's That Guy Who Played Iron Man for fans of That Guy Who Played Iron Man, there's action and slow-motion punching for all the straight-up action fans out there...the point is that I can see how it'd appeal to a wide audience. Which is one ingredient in the recipe for success. (I'm betting that the rabid Holmes-philes, like myself, will stay home.)

The verdict, part 2? This movie will make a lot of money.

You know, I'd even go see this movie if they hadn't attached Holmes' name to it. It looks like a fun ride. But: the dude in the trailers is not the Holmes I grew up reading! The dude in the trailers is Tony Stark, except with an accent. I like American Tony Stark better. Nothing against the Brits: Tony should stay American, is all. AND NOT TRY TO BE SHERLOCK HOLMES!

The verdict, in totum? I will be royally angry from about December 25 till maybe the first week of January, as Guy Ritchie's new movie Tony Stark Goes To 1890's England--I mean, Sherlock Holmes--rakes in the cash.

Long live fidelity to source material!

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