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10 January 2010 @ 02:20 am
Should be finishing my home exam, but...  
...I felt a sudden need to rant about the Sherlock Holmes movie I saw in the theater yesterday. So here goes:

I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. Being a long time Sherlock Holmes fan (I inherited the collected works of Arthur Conan Doyle in English from by mother at the age of 12), as well as a fan of the TV-series adaption starring Jeremy Brett, I was skeptical to say the least, when it came to this. Even when I'd seen the trailer, it all looked too action packed and a little slapstick for me to enjoy it as a Sherlock Holmes story. Not to mention the seemingly supernatural element to the story (though I was pretty convinced - or at least hoped - everything would get a logical explanation in the end).

So, that was the first impression. Then, I started hearing a lot of good things about it, both from Holmes fans and from movie critics. Sure, some weren't that happy with RDJ's way of portraying Holmes, or didn't like the over all plot, but the majority of people I found reviews or comments from seemed positive.

Thus I went to the movies with my dear parents and sister, whom I'm currently visiting, and we had a great deal of fun! Yes, there was a lot of action. Yes, there was slapstick. Yes,RDJ certainly wasn't the classical portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. And I didn't mind at all.

Maybe I'm just less of a purist than most (and I'm not saying a purist is a bad thing to be when it comes to Sherlock Holmes, I just appear not to be one), but as a Sherlock Holmes fan I found this movie to be a highly entertaining experience and would love to watch it again many, many times.

Why is that? Several reasons! First and foremost: the way all characters were portrayed. IMHO, the casting was perfect, from Holmes to Lestrade to Lord Blackwood.

I thought I'd have more trouble accepting RDJ as Holmes. I think he's a great actor, but being the Brett fan that I am, I had trouble imaging accepting anyone else the role of Holmes. That said, I must admit, RDJ had me hooked from scene one. He is very different from Brett's version of Holmes (which I still adore endlessly, thank you very much), but I think that's why it worked for me. This wasn't someone-pretending-to-be-Brett-pretending-to-be-Holmes. This was something new, but still true to the original character, in its own way.

This is highly likely a side effect of my love of Alternative Universe fanfiction. I have never really had trouble accepting alternative takes on characters I like, as long as the core of the character is recognizable. Sherlock Holmes isn't his hair, his clothes or his nose - he's a brilliant, eccentric consulting detective who loves mysteries and challenges and music and...

Well, you get the idea. Moving on!

Now, what really would make or break this movie for me, was Watson and his way of interacting with Holmes. I must admit to having been disappointed at several adaptions of Sherlock Holmes (I've seen many, so I'm a bit too lazy to list them all by scene and situation at half past late in the evening) wherein the friendship between Holmes and Watson has been...not down played precisely, but it did play second fiddle to the mysteries.

I do love the mysteries. And I admit, this movie wasn't the perfect Holmesian mystery, for which many fans probably will be disappointed. There is mystery, yes, but it does take a backseat to the character interactions.

This I had no problem with, at all, due to the earlier mentioned reason. I love all the characters of Holmes' world and seeing/reading them interacting is honey for my mind. There are tons and tons of wonderful, clever, complicated Holmes mysteries. Not to say that I would have minded if the movie's mystery had been more "Holmesian", not at all! But to me it was an acceptable price to pay for the wonderful interaction I got to witness.

First and most important to me: Holmes and Watson. I slash these two and have no trouble admitting it. I really prefer them as lovers and I am well aware of the possible denial this causes in me when it comes to any and all versions of Sherlock Holmes.

Slash aside, I really love these two both as friends and as lovers. I highly doubt they'll ever be shown as "more" than friends in anything but parody during my lifetime (sadly), aside from whatever subtext I might hallucinate, but the friendship is more than enough when done right. And boy did this movie do it right!

As this takes place when Watson is getting ready to propose to Mary and move away, I wasn't exactly harboring high hopes for the Holmes/Watson moments, even though I had understood from the trailer that Holmes was none too pleased with Watson leaving. Trailer-Watson just came off as a bit I-don't-need-you towards Holmes, which didn't really spell epic friendship to me.

This is where I need to remind myself, yet again, to never trust trailers. Holmes spent half the movie trying to convince Watson to break off the engagement or to at least keep working with him (basically, he did everything but throw himself at Watson's feet screaming "DON'T LEAVE ME!") This I sort of had expected, although it delighted me none the less. What pleasantly surprised me was Watson's actions. Yes he hit Holmes that one time, but keeping in mind what Holmes had implied about his future wife...

Punch aside, Watson seemed to genuinly care for Holmes. Sure, the man drow him insane at times, but they also seemed so at ease with each other. Most important of all: Watson really seemed to enjoy going off adventuring with Holmes or just talking with him. Yes, he wanted to start a life with Mary, but he didn't want to outright cut all his ties to Holmes or anything like that. He was just being Watson, doing what he thought proper and best for all involved.

And the bickering! Oh, the sweet, sweet old-married-couple-bickering. That these two guys were very old friends (or in my mind, lovers or at least wanting-to-be-lovers) there was no doubt.

Now, I must mention the thing I thought I'd have the biggest problem with in the movie and that was: Irene Adler.

Don't get me wrong now! I love her in the original stories. She is awesome. What I was worried about was this: that she'd be nothing but a love interest.

Thankfully she wasn't! Love interest yes, but she was also a central part of the plot and a kickass character! She knew her way around the underworld and could take care of herself, without becoming a Mary Sue or catching Damsel in Distress Syndrome halfway through the movie like so many awesome female characters tend to do. Yes, she got into trouble, but no more than any of the other characters and she wasn't the only one in the movie that needed rescuing at some point.

I've always had trouble getting favorite characters who are female. Much of this I think is due to a lot of girls and women in cartoons and such being "reduced to their gender" as I like to put it. There's seldom more than one girl - possibly one girl and one woman - in a show (there are of course exceptions, but I'm talking majority here) and her whole existence revolves around one thing: being a girl.

I'm not saying that boys don't get stereotypes as role models too. What I am saying is that they can pick characters to identify with from _several_ stereotypes of men. Girls tend to only get one, or they pick one of the male characters to idolize (which I mostly did).

The Smurfs are the always easy example of this phenomenon. We have tons of Smurfs, all with a fairly stereotypical personality based on skills or adjectives, more or less. We have the old wise smurf, the bookish smurf, the smurf who cooks, the smurf who's a prankster and the smurf who's...a girl.

Yeah, real big pet-peeve of mine. Girls can of course have male favorite characters - I have a ton - and the other way around. But I haven't heard that many boys say they have a childhood favorite female character, on which they haven't had a crush on.

This is why, when I ran across Irene Adler in my Holmesian readings, I was overjoyed! She three dimensional, clever, interesting and most important of all: she had a personality other than "woman".

Now, to be honest, she is a fairly minor character compared to Holmes and Watson, so she didn't become as huge a favorite as she could have been, had I been "exposed" to her more, but all in all she's an awesome character and I really like her.

And how, might you ask, do I - as a slasher - work this take on Adler's and Holmes' relationship into my version of the Holmesian universe? Easy! By thinking in the same terms that I have always thought of Holmes' opinion of her:

I really think Holmes admires Adler. Really! But I don't think he does so in a romantic way. Instead, I think she impressed him a lot and I do believe he would like to be close to her. The reasons I don't think he'd be romantically interested in her aren't solid to be honest, but they're what I think and I'm happy in my own little world.

The main reason, the one most important to me, is not that such a relationship would get in the way of Holmes/Watson. Honestly, no. The main reason is that back when I first read about Irene Adler and Holmes' reaction to her, I was so damn happy to finally have read about a guy who admired a woman not because she was pretty or because he had a crush on her, but because she was smart. It is a rare thing to find it would seem and I try to cherish such examples as much as I can.

Now, is Irene in love with Holmes? In this movie: yes. Definitely yes. And I think that only makes me like this more. I have nothing against her liking him and it worked well with the backstory that was hinted at all through the movie.

To me, Irene's love for Holmes is a bittersweet thing, that (in my head mind you) mirrors Holmes equally bittersweet love for Watson. And yes, I do love to ship Irene wit a lot of other people than Watson and Holmes, preferably other women. But that, I again admit, is mostly because I love all excuses I can get for Watson marriage being "false", my favorite being "two homosexual couples helping each other out through marriage"-scenarios. But that is just all my weird fanfiction and has nothing to do with canon really.

Oh, and speaking of marriage, lets not forget about Mary! She too was well portrayed in the movie, I find. She was the kind, gentle person I'd read about, but she wasn't a pushover or a doormat. When Holmes went too far she pushed back, but she did come to understand how much Watson truly meant to Holmes (and probably how much Holmes and his adventures meant to Watson - and I do mean this in a just-friendship-way) and was all around a very likable character!

Last but not least, the movie as a movie: It was beautiful, no doubt about that. The balance between action, character interaction and build-up worked well (though I shall never get used to the currently ever so popular zoom-in-on-faces-during-fights-so-no-one-has-a-clue-who's-where, though IMHO the Holmes-planning-his-attack made up for what little of that there was). Lord Blackwood was interesting as a villain, though didn't have the most original of motives. And much love for the characters and the acting.

All in all, a fun movie! I do get why some Holmes fans don't like it and don't think they're wrong in their opinions. This is, after all, about what you like to watch and read about, not life and death.

But I must say I'm very happy it was made in a way that I could like it. Selfish, but true.
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Current Mood: awakeawake
Listening to: Something in the air - Sarah Brightman & Tom Jones
crazytook on April 7th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Re: i swear this is the last bit
Yeah, I totally get the people who just don't think Holmes can be made into anything other than a book. I mean, I disagree with them, but that is at least, in my opinion, a valid enough complaint.

And actually, I'm with you on the Iron Man stuff, i like the movie better too! We can both hang out in comic book fan hell.

And I never,never,never even thought of the WE MUST SAVE BRITAIN!! Thing. No one I've run into mentioned it! That's fair enough. I mean, what? only like three stories actually have BRITAIN at risk...i think one of them is a mycroft story, and his last bow surrounds world war one, and then scandal in bohemia is just bohemia. but yeah, most of the holmes stories really are about him dealing with smaller mysteries, some of which aren't even technically crimes, so i guess if you want to complain about that, fair enough. but, it does make for the funnest movie ever.... fun ruiners. hehe. :)

See, and i know i keep harping on this, but the thing i just DON'T GET about the Brett version-and maybe i'm dense- is how canon everyone says they are. I mean, I've admittedly only seen scandal in bohemia, the dying detective, shomscolmbe place (spelling?) (which is the one with jude law that i think he forgot he did), final problem, empty house, and devil's root, but i do know that they took 20 or less page stories and turned them into HOUR LONG tv episodes, which tells me how much they had to have changed! And yes, Brett does look awfully like holmes and is probably one of the few actors who can look comfortable sitting in a chair with his knees folded to his chest like he does, but that's kind of where it stops with me. I mean, sure, Brett's interpretation is a VALID one of the Doyle Holmes, but it is by no means,in my opinion, definitive. I mean, I know a lot of people grew up with that, and I get that, and to those ppl, as long as they admit that it's just how they grew up seeing holmes, I leave alone, but if there is to be further discussion, I think Brett's performance has to be called into question as far as it being all super canon. Because, the way I see it, the way Brett plays it seems to me to be the interpretation that takes Watson at his word. And by that, I mean, it seems to be the Holmes that Watson describes in the books but does not take into account any of the many discrepancies between how Watson describes Holmes and what Holmes actually DOES. The Brett Holmes,imo, is the Holmes that Holmes himself would have you think he is. (did that sentence make sense?) I mean, I think there's a lot of argument, and I take it as canon, in the Doyle books that Holmes has created a very carefully crafted identity. And a lot of that identity is a lie. And the Brett version just doesn't have any room for where that lie is. There's no further depth than Holmes as the manic/bitchy (hehe) calculating machine. I mean, the Brett version changes stories in such a manner as to make Holmes more of who he says he is than who he actually is. Dialogue gets changed so he's meaner/more non-caring to Watson, so he's more manipulative around women, and so he doesn't give a damn about his fellow man other than as far as they make an interesting case. Yes, these are all traits Holmes says of himself, and Watson does repeat these descriptions. BUT, this is also the guy who checks up on Watson to make sure his leg is OK and that he isn't taxing himself too much for his sake, who plays Watson to sleep with his violin (squee!), who has earned the affection of Mrs. Hudson despite being "the worst tenant in London", who gives self described paternal advice to one of the people he catches because she had no mother to go to for advice, who laments at his own gifts because he feels that sometimes when he turns people over to the law who are guilty he does more harm than good, etc...
crazytook on April 7th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Re: i swear this is the last bit
Like, this guy is not an automaton, whatever he might say. I read that stuff, and I'm just like, "bitch please." And the Brett version, from what I've seen, just doesn't seem to show the part of Holmes that is actually a deep feeling human who at the end of the day, does everything he does in order to be of use to people and puts their needs before his own. OK, so he's also an ego maniac craving approval and a cocaine addict, but i didn't say holmes doesn't have issues, cause holmes totally has issues.

But you do have a point, the Brett version is true to the structure of the Doyle books despite the fact they change the way the mysteries played out in the books frequently. But yes, the structure is insanely true to Doyle's canon.

And the strawberry analogy is very apt. I get that. I guess I'm just assuming people have seen the preview prior to the movie, but i guess maybe even then it might take you a bit to come around.

you're good at analogies!

anyways, as always thanks for chatting!

crazytook on April 7th, 2010 04:00 pm (UTC)
...just when you thought i was done
yikes, sorry, i thought i was done, but then i saw you'd posted more than my email showed me and they were good points and i felt like i just ignored them by ranting about brett! sigh.

i think everyone's brain breaks a little when HP is mentioned...i haven't had such a love/hate relationship with something since smallville...sigh, fiction, what are you doing to me?

haha, i remember the sign of four thing being very random too, but then again, i think ppl did get engaged pretty quickly back in the day, i mean, if pride and prejudice is anything to go by. i think relationships happen a lot quicker when 1)no sex before marriage (or limited sex before marriage) and 2) you have such strong gender roles (which grrr!) that ppl are kind of automatically compatible just by virtue of being a man and a woman and there's just a little bit of wiggle room for having to negotiate that sliver of individuality-even if those roles you're taking on are all a lie (OK, so now I'm being all harsh on victorian england again, sigh, gotta stop doing that) but yeah, to a modern audience, it seems majorly rushed. I had a similar reaction in sign of four. And the fact that holmes is just like "I have my cocaine bottle" or whatever...like WTF? it's like...uh...watson, are you SURE you're OK with this? Maybe you should stop your friend from eventually OD'ing. I'm really surprised he never did while watson was married... But yeah, I think the movie did a GREAT job of making the watson/mary relationship believable to a modern audience. I don't know, maybe doyle threw in the engagement cause he felt like it was just in watson's character for marriage and such to be important and he's the kind of guy who'd want a family? I mean, watson and marry would make BAMF parents...too bad she died. but yes. again with the randomness. that turned into a rant, sorry.

Did not know that about wash and zoe, that's....that's... SO STUPID!!! I LOVED that they were married! "wife soup!" oh they were sooo cute!!!!

Yeah, friendships do need to be more in mainstream media. I'm not super influential or anything, but i do know there are a lot of young actors/writers who really want to write female buddy comedies. Like cop style buddy comedies, so no whining about boys, make-up, or pillow fights ...I know cause I'm among them...if i ever get any of my work online, i shall send it to you in hopes that it will appease you. I too am super sick of the "group of girls" BS. I want to KILL sex and the city.

And personally, I would LOVE to see a version of Sherlock Holmes where the entire universe is just gender swapped. Like female holmes and watson,Queen Victoria would be a King Victor and Prince Alberta, men would have take on the traditional gender roles of women and women would take on the traditional gender role of men, and it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense logistically, but it'd be a REALLY fun version of sherlock holmes and give some women a chance to play holmes and watson!!!
ok, im done for real this time...for now! sorry im so long winded!

Nonesane: It's not on...at all...nonesane on June 12th, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
Re: ...just when you thought i was done
Argh, sorry for the slow reply, my holmes_big_bang fic is eating all my computer time!

Title spelling for the ep Law was in is "Shoscombe Old Place".

I like your interpretation of Brett-Holmes - him acting like Holmes himself would prefer to be seen, I mean. While I agree that the characters are more "shallow" in the Brett version, I think Doyle's writing had part in that. Because even though I adore him as a mystery writer, he's no genius when it comes to character interaction (more blasphemy you say? Why yes, I am a wicked person).

Take for example the situation with Watson's living arrangements and marriage. From reading the stories it's very hard to tell how many times he's been married, to whom and why, not to mention where he's living and why he's moved out (he does move out of Baker Street a couple of times without marrying).

And then there's The Empty House. Just...The Empty House.

Come on, your best friend in the whole world dies while you're tricked away from his side, your wife dies, probably while giving birth to your child and then you find out your friend has been alive the whole time - I think that warrants a bit more of a reaction that fainting and then accepting it all and jumping on-board on the next case. Stiff upper lip indeed.

In short, there's a lot of reading between the lines to be done (I personally am a big fan of the "Watson is a sarcastic and unreliable author"-theory) and I think they went with that for the Brett-series as well. I've watched all the episodes and there are signs of a deeper friendship between Holmes and Watson. And many of the later changes were done because of Brett's heart condition, so I'm really sad they couldn't do "The Three Garridebs", since Brett simply was too ill.

Though Brett, to me, has always been a theater actor. On film he always appears a little "too much", but on stage...

Let's just say that "The Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes" he and Edward Hardwicke played in really made up for a lot of complaints I had with the TV-show. It filled in a lot of "behind the scenes" stuff (ie. Holmes' more human side) and the acting was more fitting to the situation.

The trailer for the movie is what I think put so many in a "bad mood" towards the film that they simply couldn't get out of. The scene where Irene knees Holmes in the groin to disable him made me wince (and not in sympathy) and it all gave a very slap-stick-y impression, to be honest. Basically I was very negative.

But once I saw the movie I realized all the work that had been put into it and how much research of the source material they'd done. To me it felt like a "behind the scenes look" at what life for Watson and Holmes was like, instead of what Watson just wrote down. Others I think had trouble overlooking the trailer and thus were set in the mindset of disapproving. Maybe if they'd come into the movie without a "idea" of what they thought of it ahead of time there would have been less negative comments on it.

Still, to each his own. I'm by no means saying everyone has to like the movie - just that no one has the right to call anyone else "less of a fan" just because they did.

As for the complaints about Holmes & co's appearance, that's just nitpicking! RDJ's portrayal of Holmes was excellent IMHO, no matter if he was too short. And about him looking too scruffy...we're talking about a man who keeps tobacco in his shoes, hellooooo!

you're good at analogies!

Why thank you! I guess TVTropes has been rubbing off on me :)

Well yes, people got engaged at the drop of a hat back then, but it was still so random. A little build-up would have been nice. I think that's why people in general like Pride and Prejudice - the build-up. Elizabeth's sister Jane and Mr. Bingley's romance is so swift it's of no interest until they have some opposition, while the interaction between Lizzie and Mr. Darcy is fascinating from beginning to end, since it doesn't jump directly to "love". So while I agree that Watson and Mary getting engaged so quickly by no means is impossible, some more hints would have been nice, instead of a "by the way we got engaged". It really gave nothing to the story (unless you count Holmes' disapproval and love of cocaine).
Nonesane: It's not on...at all...nonesane on June 12th, 2010 02:51 pm (UTC)
Re: ...just when you thought i was done
Yeah, gender roles in general are annoying, but so fun to mess with (my holmes_big_bang fic is basically just an excuse to play around with stereotypes and sexuality).

Wife soup indeed! Mainstream romance seems to begin with creepy obsession and end with a kiss (or possibly a steamy night together). Marriage is a "goal", not an adventure in itself and that just sucks. (As a side note: Serenity is officially not canon with me *denialdenialdenial*)

Female cop-buddies ftw! I'd love to read that :D

I too am working on more than one original story with two female friends as the main characters - 'cuse while they may have more than one friend, they don't all have to hang out at the same time...or talk about boys. I am in fact writing a Graphic Novel with one of my female friends (the artist and co-author, 'cause if I am put in charge of anything more than page layout I'll mess everything up completely *shudders*) where the main characters are two best friends who happen to be girls. If we ever finish it I'll get it online and send you
a link :)

I personally never got "Sex and the City" - it just bores me. Sure it might be one way for some women to interact, but it's by no means a "representation of how women think and act". In fact, that whole idea of "women" as a group weirds me out. The only things all women have in common are breasts and a vagina (and sometimes not even that!) so why the hell should that be a basis for any kind of unity?

As a side note/rant: Hollywood in general is really americanizing Sweden. Up until now we hadn't had the "bride being handed over to the groom by her father"-tradition in centuries, but it's become increasingly popular among younger brides (and less popular among their dads, who think it's slightly creepy). I mean no offense, but it's one thing to have it as a tradition always and a completely different one to return to a tradition we discarded during the Middle Ages because we wanted to show women could get married of their own free will, just because you want your ceremony to look like the ones on TV. *fumes*

The other thing that's becoming more and more popular are dates. Pre-established-relationship-dates went out of fashion some time ago, probably because of economical reasons (eating out and going to the movies here is expensive), but gender equality most likely played some part. Usually when people hook up here they just hang out more - and you never "date" more than one person at the time. Either you're together or you're not, there's no "in-between" (and now I'm generalizing USA-culture a lot, based on TV and what my American friends have told me, sorry).

Anyways, nowadays Swedish women of 19 years or younger seem a bit "out of touch" with our unwritten rules. Not only have they no clue on how a Swedish wedding ceremony works (the groom and bride both walk in together, why can no one remember that?), they go on more "offical" dates (personally I'm very weirded out by anyone wanting to pay my food or movie tickets - especially if it's someone who may want to get into my pants, even if it's just meant as a nice gesture) and they're more likely to expect the guy to pay for stuff (why should he have more money? The salary difference between women and men isn't that big and all students are living on the same loans *groan* We still need to fix the inequality in wages, but that is not the way to do it!).

In short, lots of confusion.

And why can't we have more guy-girl friendships that don't end in sex? I'm all for basing romance in friendship (would be a huge hypocrite if I wasn't), but they're so underrepresented in mainstream that I could cry. In real life too, when I think about it. Not that I don't know plenty of guy-girl friends, it's just that people always seem to expect there to be some physical attraction going on between them for them to want to hang out (and I'm speaking from personal experience, see my "Engagement Ring"-post for more details). It's just, aaaargh! *cue Angrish*

A gender-swapped AU with different gender roles you say...*plotting afoot* That said, have you seen the new gender-swap fic over at the kink meme? It's pure genius!