By my count, there have been over 800 kajillion filmic adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Within the last few years we’ve had two films from Guy Richie, a BBC series, and a separate CBS series. There has hardly been a time in the last century when someone hasn’t been adapting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s sleuth to screens either big or small. When you start counting all the derivatives, pastiches, and out-right stolen works that use similar characters then one has to start wondering if theirs anything produced in the last century that hasn’t been influenced by Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Truth be told, I’m not that much of a fan. I’ve read several of the stories and seen many adaptations and I mostly find him rather boring. Trouble is Sherlock has an almost supernatural power of detection. It’s fun to see him figure out the tiniest details about persons based upon the smallest details the first few times, but after awhile, it gets a bit tiresome.
I don’t hate the character and depending on the story and who is doing the adaptation he can’t be quite enjoyable. I really rather love the latest BBC version of the stories and Benedict Cumberbatch is nearly perfect as the detective. They’ve done a very good job of modernizing things and adapting the stories in such a way that makes them fresh and interesting. But others fail in those departments miserably. For example, I found the Guy Richie films to be not much more than ridiculous.
Which brings us to Mr. Holmes. Based upon a book by Mitch Cullin, the film has found a way to make the character interesting again. They made him old and forgetful. Ian McKellen plays the 93-year-old detective, who has retired but continues to think about one last case. Trouble is his mind is not the steel trap it once was and his memory continues to fail him, causing things to get mixed up in his head.
Directed by Bill Condon (who had similar fun reimagining history – whether real or imagined – in the wonderful Gods and Monsters, also with Ian McKellen), the film looks quite wonderful in the trailers. Unfortunately, audiences seem to have completely ignored it (I honestly didn’t know it had been released in theaters yet and here it is on home video). The critics weren’t particularly in love with it either.
But I don’t care. While I have mixed feelings over Holmes as a character, this notion of him as an old man is fascinating and with Ian McKellen portraying him I can’t help but make it my pick of the week. (Read Lorna Miller’s review).
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Better Call Saul: The Complete First Season: When they first announced they were making a Breaking Bad spin-off with Saul Goodman as the main character, I have to admit I was worried. But man, did they ever make it work. Saul (or rather Jimmy) has added layers of depth and character I never imagined he could have. I can’t wait for Season Two.
Terminator: Genisys: Arnold is back in yet another sequel in the Terminator series. The reviews have not been great, and I’ve missed the last several incarnations but I’m interested to see what they can do with it this time. Especially with Arnold coming back to it and with Emilia Clarke and Matt Smith taking roles.
Code Unknown (Criterion Collection:) I’ve only seen a couple of films from Michael Haneke (Funny Games and Cache) but both were really interesting. I very much want to watch more from him and with Criterion taking him on, this appears to be a great place to continue that pursuit.
Je t’aime, Je t’aime: French sci-fi flick about a man who is selected to participate in a time-travel experiment only to experience various moments in his own life over again. Sounds interesting.
Montage of Heck: I was always more of a Pearl Jam man than Nirvana, but they say this documentary of Kurt Cobain is a good one. It apparently features a lot of diaries and home video and that should be interesting at least.
Sherlock Holmes (1916): This film was long thought to be lost, but they found a duplicate negative in the vaults of la Cinémathèque française last year. Holmes is portrayed by William Gilette, who had portrayed the detective over 1300 times on the stage.
Trainwreck: I want to say I’m no fan of Amy Schumer, but that would imply I’ve actually seen something from her, which isn’t the truth. I just don’t have any real desire to see anything from her. I have seen a few things from Judd Apatow and then I vowed to not watch anything else he made. But I know some folks like this sort of things and here it is.
Star Wars Steel Books: I don’t think there is anything new with these releases, but each film comes with a pretty cool-looking cover design and there are folks who collect those sorts of things. I’m one of them actually, but I’m not ready to lay down more money on the series until the new films come out.