20 February 2011

OMENS: Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes

Starring Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones.
Written by Chris Columbus
Directed by Barry Levinson
Release: 4 December 1985
Amblin Entertainment, 105 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: The early adventures of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson at boarding school while they investigate mysterious deaths.

YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES takes great pains to assure us that this film doesn’t follow the cannon set forth by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, nor are the events inspired by any of his novels. Instead, this should be regarded as a fantasy movie, a “what if?” a young Sherlock and John Watson met each other at some Academy and formed a friendship? Although I’m sure any die hard fans of the HOLMES franchise would cry fowl at all the retconnes and inaccurate representations of Holmes’ life, the film is nonetheless a wild wide of adventure and nicely remains true to the Sherlock Holmes character I’m familiar with.

Except the whole thing with Sherlock fancying Elizabeth. Correct me, but has Sherlock ever fancied a gal? Similar to Spider-Man, isn’t action his reward? Being on the case and solving the case? Granted, my Sherlock history and knowledge isn’t what I or anyone else would call deep, but Sherlock getting smoochy-face just doesn’t jab right. Then again, this is the young Sherlock Holmes. Not even a case of triple murders can thwart teenage hormones.

Anyways. Produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the movie dabbles in both childrens fantasy and young adult darkness. There’s lots in Columbus’ script that is reminiscent to the kid-friendly tone and dialogue of his two HARRY POTTER films, and his poor choice of using narration by a elder John Watson brings about plenty of groan-worthy dialogue as it regurgitates cliched lines at a unfortunately high rate. As I said, though, YOUNG SHERLOCK does have a tinge of darkness in it. The culprit(s) behind the series of murders is actually a clan of folks decked out in this really neat underground temple that is really reminiscent in design to the Thuggee lair in TEMPLE OF DOOM a year before. Death of loved ones, betrayal, and confronting ones emotions and bettering themselves are themes in the movie Sherlock must face, and the quasi-Gothic atmosphere assists in that.

As the titular character, Nicholas Rowe is actually quite impressive and it’s easy to see how this man will grow up to become the legendary detective he will become. Currently I’m watching the Steven Moffat SHERLOCK series, and Rowe’s interpretation has quite a few similarities. The manner in which Holmes walks with complete confidence, the off-hand and semi-boastful way he divulges the obviousness of the clues to Watson or any open ears, even the frizzled hair (after all, why would Sherlock care about hair style, y’know?). With YOUNG SHERLOCK being his second feature film, Rowe does have facepalm-worthy moments, but for the most part, very impressive. Alan Cox doesn’t fare as good, however. At no point did I think this would be the John Watson we’re going to see someday, instead coming off very much like Sean Astin in THE GOONIES with an unquenchable taste for chocolate. Sophie Ward fulfills her duty as Elizabeth, Holmes’ love interest, who ultimately isn’t given enough screentime to become anything else than exactly that – the love interest, and eventually the damsel-in-distress. Missed opportunity, ultimately.

One of the greatest assets to YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES is the score provided by Bruce Broughton (LOST IN SPACE). Adventurous, dark, ‘witty’, all the things that a score for the great Sherlock Holmes demands, Broughton delivers.

But maybe the best thing I can offer YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES is that it is undeniably fun. Watching Sherlock solve the case of the hidden vase in one hour on a dare from the obnoxious kid in the school, seeing Sherlock engage in sword combat, and generally witnessing this young man gain the traits that are familiar to any fan of Sherlock Holmes. The movie has a brisk pace, and the not-all-that-challenging mystery and captivating and fun cast come together nicely to make an enjoyable film that held my interest. Yes, some of the effects are outdated, but they are nonetheless impressive. As noted, the mystery isn’t all that complex, or dare I say enthralling. But it’s Sherlock Holmes, it’s fun, and you’ll enjoy the adventure.

Netflix Rating: Really Liked It


Jack L said...

Very good review,
I think I'm too much of a Sherlock Holmes fan to really enjoy this, I really didn't like Guy Rithie's Sherlock Holmes or any other film adaptations for that matter...

Andy the Time Lord said...

Jack, have you had a chance to watch the three-episode British series SHERLOCK? I'm not exactly a fan of SHERLOCK HOLMES in general, but that series was spectacular. As a fan yourself, you just might like it.

If you were to ever watch YSH, just set your bar of expectation a tad low...

Jack L said...

Honestly after seeing guy Ritchie's version of Sherlock, I avoided all others and the British series you mention must of escaped my notice...
I've recently heard some good things about and I think I might check it out!

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