Everywhere I go I keep having the new Guy Ritchie movie ‘Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows’ thrust in my face, massive posters adorn practically every solid object on the high street, writes Charlotte Anne Walters.
Even though I find the aggressive marketing off-putting, it’s the strap-line which really kills it for me – ‘Bigger, Better, Funnier’. It sounds more like a spoof than a serious attempt to portray Sherlock Holmes on the big screen
Okay, I know there is a bit of ‘sour grapes’ creeping in here. I don’t have the resources/celebrity friends/millions to promote my novel and shove it in everyone’s faces in the hope that they just cave in and buy it, and I know it’s Christmas so I should try to be a little nicer about things, but I don’t like the direction Ritchie is taking Holmes in and I can’t help grumbling about it. Christmas-or-not. Bah-humbug, or do I have a point?
As a character, Sherlock Holmes is all about the small things – paying attention to tiny details which seem insignificant to everyone except himself, taking on cases which seem so small that the official police don’t understand their significance. Bigger is not better. The last film was big and funny enough thank you, if this one really is ‘bigger’ and ‘funnier’ then surely it becomes a parody, a joke, and a million miles away from what Holmes is really about.
Admittedly, I shouldn’t really be commenting as I haven’t actually seen the film yet. But I can certainly get the gist of it from all the pre-publicity and it’s not exactly making me want to rush out and get a ticket. Take the review last Sunday in the Mail, it summed up my fears pretty well.
Despite describing the first film as ‘close to brilliant’, reviewer Matthew Bond raises concerns about this film’s ‘anything goes’ humour – ‘so we have 21st Century vernacular being parachuted jarringly into the London of 1891. “You’re the one with no friends,” Watson accuses Holmes at one point, “Shirley No Mates.”’ Other examples Bond mentions are – Mycroft in the buff, Holmes escaping on a Shetland pony, Holmes and Watson dancing together at a diplomatic ball.
Bond further sums up my concerns with the line – ‘The damage this sort of cavalier approach does to the underlying Holmes franchise is incalculable.’ My worry is that Ritchie has turned Holmes into a comedy figure, lowered the tone. All those young boys and men who love the film – who laugh their socks off at all the gags and marvel at the dramatic action, will be very disappointed if they ever read one of the original stories because it is so very different.
I’m certainly not saying that the traditional approach is the only way to portray Holmes, I absolutely love BBC’s Sherlock and my own novel which involves Sherlock Holmes is pretty controversial in parts, but this is done with a lighter touch, a greater sensitivity than this block-busting, commercial romp.
In the spirit of fairness (well, it is Christmas) I have to admit that my step-sons absolutely love the Ritchie films and think I’m completely mad for not ‘getting it’. And Matthew Bond did have positive things to say – describing Jarred Harris’s performance as ‘outstanding’ in the role of Moriarty and Jude Law as ‘excellent’ playing Watson. I personally think that using Stephen Fry in the role of Mycroft is inspired casting too.
And yes, I am a bit jealous (well, a lot actually) that Guy Ritchie was able to use his star-power to bring to fruition his concept and get it distributed on such a massive scale while I struggle to even get my novel mentioned in the Birmingham Mail, let alone the Daily Mail.
Will I be going to see the film? Well, probably, and I will try to keep an open mind. Who knows, I might actually love it and eat my words. Well, that will make a change from all the festive food I’ll be eating over the next week. At least words are calorie free . . .
My novel Barefoot on Baker Street has now been published. Here are some of the ways you can purchase it.