Is it me or is Robert Downey Jr pretty much awesome in EVERYTHING!
Over the past few years, we have grown accustomed to Robert Downey Jr slipping into his Iron Man suit and defending the world from Thanos and other nefarious Marvel super-villains. But after a recent rewatch of some of the other movies in his back catalogue, I have come to the conclusion that the actor is pretty much fantastic in everything!
His role in U.S Marshalls was sublime. His performance as Charlie Chaplin was breathtaking. Hell, even his cringe-worthy role in pop culture classic Weird Science was oddly notable, but the one character that truly stands out amongst the crowd is his interpretation of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. Alongside Jude Law’s admirable performance as Doctor John Watson, Downey Jr slips effortlessly into character as the famous detective and with relative ease adopts a very passable British accent which only adds integrity to his persona.
Downey Jr’s take on the character is far from the one-dimensional interpretations of the past. Aside from Benedict Cumberbatch and the great Peter Cushing, no other actor has truly captured the essence of the character, and yet, Robert Downey Jr not only changes the formula with his adaptation but he reinvents our perception of how London’s greatest detective should conduct himself. Downey Jr not only humanises him and exposes his shortcomings to the world, but he does so while validating the iconic and often baffling brilliance that fans have come to expect from the character. The film itself is tailor-made for Downey Jr’s brilliance and allows him to expand beyond his Iron Man alter-ego and break free of any typecasting issues that might have dogged his earlier career.
The screenplay from Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and the infamous Simon Kinberg (X-Men: Dark Phoenix) somehow manages to capture lightning in a bottle and triumphs in presenting a Victorian London in a way that is both pragmatic and dark and unflinching. But the applause for bringing this aesthetically pleasing world to life goes to director Guy Ritchie and his renowned cinematographer Philippe Rousselot. The celebrated cinematographer has since gone on to bring his imaginative prowess to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, but it was his work on both Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows that brought him to the dance.
The plot is relatively simple, in 1890 London, private detective Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr John Watson prevent the ritualistic murder of a woman by Lord Henry Blackwood, who has killed five other young women in a similar fashion. What follows is an adventure where Blackwood seemingly returns from the grave and launches an insidious plot which Holmes and Watson must foil before it can reach its odious crescendo. Simple yes, but damn effective. Cutting the tension and the relentlessly enjoyable bravado between the protagonists is the unapologetic humour which fits perfectly with the tone of the film. Holmes and Watson’s relationship is a joy to behold and the back and forth competitiveness between them is an absolute pleasure to watch and leaves you yearning for more.
Whatsmore is the surprisingly enjoyable soundtrack from Hans Zimmer. The quality of once-great composer has been in decline for many years but with Sherlock Holmes Zimmer crafts a thoroughly entertaining score which is stylised, bold and punchy and delivers an injection of majesty which heightens the movie immensely.
Overall, the finished article is a breathtaking adventure worthy of its place in any movie collection. Not only is the film a deliciously stylised piece of cinema, but it is just plain fun to watch, a quality that many movies hitting the screens this year sorely lack. The news that Holmes and Watson will be returning for another adventure in the currently untitled Sherlock Holmes 3 is music to my ears. A Game of Shadows was a worthy sequel and brought Holmes face-to-face with his arch-nemesis Professor James Moriarty, but the sequel somehow lost some of its predecessor’s charm.
I can only hope that the third outing recaptures the lightning and puts it back in the bottle. Either way, it will be fascinating to see Robert Downey Jr bring Holmes out of retirement following his heartbreaking exit from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And yet, it is most refreshing to be excited about one of his movies that does not require him to slip into the famous armour of Tony Stark’s Iron Man. But let’s face it, he’s going to be great either way. The actor has seasoned beautifully since his early days in Weird Science, and despite navigating a very bumpy personal life he has emerged as one of the better performers in Hollywood today.
If you haven’t found the time to watch either Sherlock Holmes or A Game Of Shadows, I suggest you do so post-haste. You won’t regret it. And let’s face it, they’re far worse ways to waste two hours of your life!
It’s elementary dear readers!
Now if you’ll excuse me Victorian London awaits.
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Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager and Editor of Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter @philthecool where he uses the force frequently!
Music Source: Drace