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Posts Tagged ‘Sherlock Holmes’

Milie  Bobby Brown, Helena Bonham Carter

“ENOLA HOLMES” My rating: B (Now on Netflix)

123 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Netflix’s “Enola Holmes” would be a welcome diversion at any time.

That it also confirms young Millie Bobby Brown (you know…the bald one from “Stranger Things”) as a major star is but frosting on the scone.

The premise of Harry Bradbeer’s film (Jack Thorne adopted from Nancy Springer’s YA novel) is that the great detective Sherlock Holmes had, in addition to his brother Mycroft, a little sister named Enola.

Raised by her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter) to be an independent, inquisitive, self-asserting young woman (instead of crocheting and piano 16-year-old Enola was trained in archery and karate), this youngest Holmes is shattered when one morning her dear Mama vanishes.

Big brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin), a pompous and unyieldingly chauvinistic government bigwig, is Enola’s legal guardian — though he hasn’t seen her for a decade. Now Mycroft arranges for her to be shipped off to the smothering finishing school run by the fascistic Miss Harrison (a gloriously scenery-chewing Fiona Shaw).

In the meantime, sibling Sherlock (Henry Cavill) will try to sleuth out what happened to their mother.

But Enola has a head start.  Cannily picking up on clues Eudoria deliberately left behind, Enola disguises herself as a boy and hits the road. Along the way she befriends a runaway adolescent nobleman, Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), who is being stalked by a bowler-hatted assassin (Burn Gorman).  Upshot: Violent confrontations and a teen crush.

She also discovers that her mother and her fellow suffragettes may have been involved in a bomb-making plot. And she runs afoul of Scotland Yard’s Inspector Lestrade (Adeel Akhtar), hot on the trail both of Enola and Tewkesbury.

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Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes

Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes

“MR. HOLMES” My raing: B- 

  104 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

 

Sherlock Holmes is one of fiction’s most enduring characters because of his fascinating idiosyncracies.  But smooth down those oddball edges and what’s left?

A bit of a bore, actually.

Less mystery than meditation, “Mr. Holmes” gives us Conan Doyle’s great detective in his dotage, retired for 35 years and living in solitude in a farmhouse on the Dover coast.

As envisioned by director Bill Condon, screenwriter Mitch Cullin (adapting his novel A Slight Trick of the Mind) and the great actor Ian McKellen, this is not the Holmes of the popular stories penned by his colleague Dr. Watson.

Indeed, Holmes has little regard for Watson’s fictions, which he dismisses as “absolute rubbish… penny dreadfuls with elevated prose.” This Holmes — aged 83 — maintains that he never wore a deerstalker hat — “an embellishment of the illustrator” — and was a cigar man, not a pipe puffer.

The fictional Holmes and the real man do have a couple of things in common. Both are deductive geniuses. And neither has any use for emotion, which only clouds the rational mind.  Facts may be strike us as pleasant or not, but at least they are neutral; cruelty and betrayal, on the other hand, are exclusively the result of human interaction.

But now Holmes’ life of the mind is failing him.  His memory is going. He may spend minutes staring aimlessly into space.

He’s tended to by his housekeeper (Laura Linney), a war widow — the year is 1947 — and her young son Roger (Milo Parker). As the film begins Holmes views these two as irritants.  Slowly, though, he and the boy hit it off, mostly over their shared enthusiasm for beekeeping.

The mother’s frustration that now she’s losing her boy to the old man isn’t eased by Holmes’ thoughtless observation that “Exceptional children are often the result of unremarkable parents.”

“Mr. Holmes” is about a case, but not a new one. Rather the film is filled with flashbacks to 1910 when Holmes was hired by a husband worried that his wife (Hattie Morahan) — distraught after repeated miscarriages — was maintaining a secret life. The erudite Holmes sleuthed out the facts of the matter but shrugged off the wife’s emotional advances, leading to consequences so disastrous he ended his career.

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Downey as Sherlock...man of 1,000 disguises

“SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS”  My rating: C 

129 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

The Robert Downey Jr.-powered “Sherlock Holmes” franchise, like the “Transformers” franchise, makes me feel very, very old.

Both series are hugely successful. Apparently they make other moviegoers terribly happy.

But they leave me feeling…empty. For all their visual razzle dazzle, there’s no there there. I might as well be beating myself over the head with an inflated pig bladder for all the pleasure these movies provide.

I know, I know. What a disagreeable old man I have become.

It’s not that I cannot appreciate superficial charm.  But these movies aren’t charming. Just superficial.

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