I finally got around to watching the 2009 Guy Ritchie-directed ‘Sherlock Holmes’ starring Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role and Jude Law as Dr.Watson. I had avoided it so far, but when I saw the DVD during a quiet evening in whilst home visiting the folks this weekend, I decided to give it a whirl.
I like Robert Downey Jr., in fact, I like him a lot, but just did not see him as Sherlock Holmes. He just didn’t look like Sherlock in my eyes and was really not sure about an American playing such a quintessential British character.
For me, Jeremy Brett will always be Sherlock Holmes. No one else has even come close … his portrayal is unmatched, in terms of his look, his acting ability, his gravitas and even his flaring of his nostrils and upper lip movements seem so positively Sherlock. Brett played Holmes the genius, but was also a very real character with many flaws as well as being very able to empathise and relate to other human beings when he wanted to.
I watched the recent BBC TV series ‘Sherlock’ with great interest and definitely enjoyed this version that brings Sherlock into the 21st century. It is a well made and well acted programme. I wasn’t immediately convinced, because of the Brett-bias, by Benedict Cumberbatch but he definitely had a Sherlock look about him and a way that he carried himself that I could believe. Like a young slightly impetuous and more lively Jeremy Brett.
Guy Ritchie’s movie ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was actually far more enjoyable than I thought. It was great to see a beautifully recreated late 19th century London (with emphasis on beauty rather than accuracy) and to have a story based in this time period that was so energetic and explosive. However, Robert Downey Jr. never convinced me as Sherlock Holmes.
His British accent was good, but it was such a neutral accent that it did not have the gravitas that Sherlock Holmes should have. I know this was an escapist film and a re-imagining of the Holmes character, but because I have seen Jeremy Brett play the character so well, anything else just doesn’t quite cut the mustard. I can imagine, and I think this was the point, that young people could very much enjoy Downey Jr.’s version of Holmes and if they make another film I would actually be tempted to cough up cash at the cinema to see it.
Some may read this and be thinking hang on! What about Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes pretty darn well and a long time before Jeremy Brett? And, whilst we are thinking up objections, what about the original Arthur Conan Doyle books and his portrayal of Holmes?
I would still argue that Jeremy Brett was still best, but the point is that it is a personal choice (although I am happy to fight anyone who says Brett isn’t the best) and can depend on what generation you are from. Younger generations may well be saying in the future that a new version of Sherlock doesn’t live up to their remembrance of Robert Downey Jr or Benedict Cumberbatch.
Just like Christopher Reeve will always be Superman to me. Others can play him well (e.g. Brandon Routh), but they won’t be Christopher Reeve. It’s also why I couldn’t go to see the new A-Team film … well, that and the fact it looked proper shit!
So who is your favourite Sherlock Holmes?