Y'know, I completely intended to start this tactfully. I would mildly extol Sherlock Holmes' virtues before citing its problems, and then finish with some succinct, not-quite enthusiastic final note. Well, the hell with that.
I can't love this movie. It's enjoyable, it has funny moments, but there's one very, very large problem that I need to address.
I hate director Guy Ritchie. No, I hate director Guy Ritchie. To me, he exemplifies all the worst possible things that could have been learned from the Quentin Tarantino style of film-making. Ritchie's films are full of sound and fury, but they sure don't mean anything. Ritchie is a whirling dervish of cinema: he thrashes around like a child in a temper tantrum, throwing explosions, colors, actions scenes, fast edits, and pithy one-liners at the screen in a perfect maelstrom of creative inanity, hoping that some form of entertainment will distill itself out of the mess he has created. And you know, he's not entirely unsuccessful on that front. He makes movies that entertaining enough. And I get it: I completely understand that anyone who goes to a Guy Ritchie movie looking for any form of substance deserves what they find. Still: it's just not enough to make things explode and throw in some fight scenes and repeat the phrase "ginger midget" enough times to make me want to eat my tongue. Film is one of the most powerful art mediums in the modern world, and it's borderline offensive that someone as clearly sophomoric as Mr. Ritchie has not only a career, but a veritable bevy of devoted followers who will go to the grave swearing that the man is a master.
Perhaps I should tone it down a bit. Right now, I'm assuming you think that I absolutely hated this movie. Not true. As stated before, I was completely entertained throughout, and the film isn't without its selling points. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are both wonderfully talented, charismatic actors, and both do as much with the material as humanly possible, creating characters that are both funny and (somewhat) plausible, though the level of bromance threatens to become more than angsty gazing. Seriously, if I were the future Mrs. Watson, I would be more than a little concerned about some of the goings-on at 221B Baker Street. The film itself looks rather lovely; I mean this in respect to the art direction and costumes, not as much to the cinematography, which is passable, but rather pedestrian. The music by Hans Zimmer is endlessly inventive and wicked--I haven't heard music this gleefully malevolent for quite some time.
Alas, the film also has its share of problems. Rachel McAdams is woefully miscast as the love interest. McAdams can be wonderful in the right circumstances. Such is not the case here, and her robotic line-reading may very well earn her a Razzie nomination before too long. The film itself is overstays its welcome; several scenes could have been cut with little to no effect on the plot, and trim the film's fat in several places (I honestly can't find a good defense of the underground boxing club sequences, and would love for someone to tell me why they were needed. I, for one, had to suppress more than a few giggles here).
And yet the film works, I suppose, on its own ridiculous terms. I realize that this has been a nutty review. I start ranting about how Guy Ritchie is the cinematic equivalent of the Antichrist, then I praise the film for its acting and humor, then I criticize it again, and then tell you the film works. I really don't know how to distill my opinions on this movie into some clear, easy-to-interpret sentence, so I'll give you this: if you're looking for an entertaining, forgettable experience, full steam ahead. If you're looking for a good movie, steer clear.