Mon 6 Jul 2009
SHERLOCK: CASE OF EVIL. USA Network, made for TV, 2002. UK title: Sherlock. James D’Arcy (Sherlock Holmes), Roger Morlidge (Dr. Watson), Gabrielle Anwar (Rebecca Doyle), Vincent D’Onofrio (Professor Moriarty), Nicholas Gecks (Inspector Lestrade), Richard E. Grant (Mycroft Holmes). Based on the characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Director: Graham Theakston.
I’m not sure whether this was originally a British production or not, but from the names of the people involved, actors and otherwise, I suspect that it was. What I am sure of is that a lot of the people who commented on this film on IMDB really hated it — really really hated it — and for the usual and obvious reasons.
I’m also not sure if this was meant to be the first of the series — and if it was, it hasn’t turned out that way — but it very easily could have, as the movie takes us back to Holmes’ earliest days as a consulting detective, before he had met Dr. Watson (a police autopsy surgeon in this film) but not before Holmes was aware of Professor Moriarty and his dastardly schemes against polite society.
I read somewhere that Holmes is supposed to be 28 in this movie. Unfortunately James D’Arcy appears to be closer to 18, hardly old enough to handle the liquor, narcotics and the wild Victorian women who flock to his doorstep when they read about his latest exploit in the daily news. (They call them groupies today, or at least they used to in the 1970s. Maybe I’m dating myself.)
Holmes is also something of a publicity hound, an aspect of his personality that turns Dr. Watson off when first they meet. And if by now you haven’t realized why the howls of protest went up so quickly after this movie was released, you can hardly consider yourself a true believing Sherlock Holmes fan.
But if I’m evidence of the fact, I think you can be a lifelong Sherlock Holmes fan and still enjoy this movie. I didn’t mind the alterations to Holmes the character, and besides, who knows what he might have been like in his younger days (though the bedroom scene with the two young ladies removing their chemises or whatever was obviously designed to tweak somebody’s noses).
And by movie’s end, Holmes is definitely chastened and perhaps has “come of age” a bit.
I rather didn’t care for all of the guns that were used in the raid by the police on Moriarty’s dope-processing warehouse, and while there were several nicely done attempts to show Holmes’ deductive abilities — the scene with Mycroft is a small gem — there is, sad to say, no great attempt by the end of the movie to be little more than just another action flick.
The atmosphere and general ambiance is nicely done, though. One twist of the plot that came early on is easily spotted, but I shall restrain myself from even beginning to describe it, so as not to keep you from having the same pleasure, otherwise I surprised myself by warming more and more to the characters as the movie went on. Who knows. You may, too.
PostScript: I seem to have ended this review with leaving myself room to show you one more photo. Miss Doyle is a client that both gets herself into trouble and helps to get Sherlock out of some trouble that he gets himself into. She’s an important part of the story, and I really can’t leave her out: