Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sherlock Holmes

Okay, look. I liked it, okay? Yes, it's a little more action-y and exposion-y than you normally get in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Fine. Yes, the trailer makes it look like it's all explosions. That's what trailers do. I propose that we stop judging movies based on the way trailers make them look. We're hip, twenty-first century movie aficionados and we know perfectly well that the trailers are A) cut together by people who did not work on the movie, and B) designed to show off explosions and groin shots?

Besides, need I point out that Sherlock Holmes has been adapted a million times in far more silly ways? The Great Mouse Detective made him into a freakin' mouse! And it was really good, too. And Holmes has fought Jack the Ripper (in both A Study in Terror and Murder by Decree as well as a bunch more, probably) and Cthulhoid cultists without people complaining their fool heads off. Holmes is infinitely adaptable. And don't go complaining about the sanctity of Arthur Conan Doyle's work, either. I didn't se you complaining about the goofiness of any of those adaptations of The Lost World.

Anyway. The only question for me was whether Holmes would feel Holmesy. And Robert Downey Jr. does. There's an early scene where he's shown analyzing the precise way to beat up an opponent (oh no! Holmes beats someone up! That's completely out of character for him, somehow, even though he says in "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott" he's both a fencer and a boxer -- that's right, I just whipped out an actual citation on you! Look it up!) and it's a great way of showing how an entirely rational character would approach fisticuffs. He's constantly sniffing things and smirking about how many things he knows, which struck me as exactly the right note.

So I liked it. I've heard it was a little long, but it felt fine to me. This is because I saw it at the Crazy Luxury Theater where every patron gets their own reclining armchair and complimentary blankets and pillows. It could have been six hours long and I would have been fine. Frankly, I almost didn't need a movie.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Avatar is an amazing technical and aesthetic achievement. It's like looking at the world's most beautiful matte painting.

I don't actually think there's three hours of movie in there. Many scenes seem to have been inserted just to have an excuse for characters to walk around in a bioluminescent wonderland. But that's okay, since the alien landscape looks really, really cool. I didn't find the plot that interesting, and the only parts I perked up for were the bits that involved things borrowed from Aliens. And the occasional weird plot hole.

One thing I thought was awesome was that Sigourney Weaver smokes, but is not an evil character. It seems like it's been a few years since that's happened in a movie. And the smoking was an irrelevant character detail, possibly just thrown in to give her something to do with her hands. I don't smoke myself, but I'm getting kind of tired of the Only Evil Characters Smoke thing.''

Incidentally, whenever I see Michelle Rodriguez in a movie, I'm reminded of Janette Goldstein's portrayal of Vasquez in Aliens. So it was fun to see her basically playing Vasquez in a James Cameron movie.

Oh, the plot holes. I'll give you three: Michelle Rodriguez probably should have been court-martialled, I think it's weird that Jake's security level (which you can see on the video log) never changes, and the Colonel mentioned that they're in low gravity but I don't think they actually are.

Anyway, it's a remarkable achievement and quite pretty. And I like the idea of making a movie you want to see in 3-D in a good movie theater, because it's a nice end-run around Internet movie piracy. I just wish I liked the movie more. Also, it seems weird that it costs a quarter of a bullion dollars to make a movie with no sets. Shouldn't that make it cheaper?