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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Movie - Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes
Directed by Barry Levinson
1985

So just how did Sherlock Holmes and John Watson get together? I'm no authority on the canon of Holmes but the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote it differs a good bit from how the makers of Young Sherlock Holmes handled it - something they take pains to note at the end of the film.

But what's a little dramatic license among friends? As the filmmakers would have us believe, young Watson meets young Holmes upon arriving at a new boarding school, where his future pal proceeds to do one of those fancy Sherlock Holmes things and tells him all about himself, based on a few subtle clues.

Which is all well and good and to be expected and if things had proceeded in this fashion I might have stayed on board. But as things moved along the movie began to take on a tone that would have been more suitable to Young Indiana Jones (which came along in the form of a TV series less than a decade later) than Young Sherlock Holmes. There's something of a mystery at the heart of all this, with blow darts that cause people to hallucinate wildly and ultimately end up dead, and an Egyptian cult, but it's more about fast-paced, big-budget action and spectacle than deduction.

Which is fine if you like that sort of thing. I didn't mind and it's certainly a well-made film, though the relentless pace became wearying at times. Much of this can probably be explained by considering some of the principals. They include Steven Spielberg, the executive producer, who had just done his Indiana Jones thing a few years earlier and who was producing another YA adventure flick, The Goonies, in the same year.

Writer Chris Columbus would go on to do Home Alone before too long and later took a crack at some Harry Potter movies. Which not so far removed from what he did here, when you think about it but without all that magic stuff. At first I thought Barry Levinson seemed like an odd choice to direct but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. After all, his big score up to this point had been with Diner, a coming of age tale. Which is not unlike what's done here, although with a lot more action.

To summarize, if you're looking for a good Sherlock Holmes movie you should probably keep looking. If you're looking for a good young-adult adventure movie this should do the trick.

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