Sherlock Holmes ★★★★

"Sherlock Holmes" is a delightfully entertaining movie with a number of humorous moments, more than a few great lines of dialogue ("Beneath this pillow lies the key to my release"), and a focus on action/adventure elements instead of the kind of suspense with which one probably associates the character of Sherlock Holmes. The timely issue of using fear to control people plays a part in the story. While the film is generally well paced, there are a couple of scenes that go on for a bit longer than necessary.

Director Guy Ritchie manages to make his take on Sherlock Holmes refreshing and stylish yet—as far as I can tell—respectful and true to the character. Philippe Rousselot’s effective cinematography, the accomplished set design, and the noteworthy costume design give the proceedings a nice period feel and atmosphere. Hans Zimmer’s energetic, Oscar-nominated score perfectly fits the tone of the picture.

Among the memorable sequences are the one that involves an exploding wharf and the climax atop the under-construction Tower Bridge, although the latter is rather formulaic and not particularly exciting. Slow motion in combination with a voice-over is used to interesting effect a couple of times, the most notable example of which is an early scene in which Holmes plans in his mind how he is going to incapacitate an opponent before it plays out in normal speed. One of my favorite sequences is the clever explanatory flashback that shows from a different perspective Irene Adler leaving Holmes’ apartment at 221B Baker Street and walking through the streets of London to a waiting horse carriage.

"Sherlock Holmes" is one well-acted film. Robert Downey Jr. turns in an excellent portrayal of the ingenious Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Watson, the other half of the movie’s dynamic duo, is solidly played by Jude Law. The crackling chemistry and pitch-perfect banter between Downey Jr.’s Holmes and Law’s Dr. Watson make me want to see more of them. Rachel McAdams plays the seductive and somewhat mysterious Irene Adler with aplomb. Lord Blackwood may be a fairly generic villain, but Mark Strong makes the most of what he has to work with.

I am eagerly awaiting the announced sequel to "Sherlock Holmes", which is scheduled for release in December 2011. Hopefully, the sequel will feature Professor Moriarty, Holmes’ archenemy, as the villain; he teasingly appears in a few brief scenes in this film.