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YMMV / Sherlock Holmes (2009)

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  • Accidental Innuendo: "Gently, gently, Watson. Be gentle with me!" No way is this one accidental. Not with Downey playing Holmes.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: There was much wailing and rending of garments on the news that Robert Downey Jr.. and Jude Law had been cast as the leads in, and Guy Ritchie was to direct a Sherlock Holmes movie. Holmesians all around the world were wary, mainly because Downey Jr didn't look like Holmes as he was described and illustrated in the books at all, but also because Guy Ritchie's previous films, style and recent lack of notable success inspired worry. Then the movie came out, and while opinions on how good of a story it was differ, most agreed that Downey and Law did a great job as Holmes and Watson, with some even putting them amongst the most beloved like Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke. Very few and maybe no Holmesians claimed that it was ruined, among other things because the 123-year-old fandom has seen worse, a lot worse, this decade alone (see Case of Evil). And for a property as dusty as Holmes, the movie was a box office juggernaut, even though it opened in the same window as box office crowner Avatar.
  • Awesome Music:
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  • Complete Monster: Lord Henry Blackwood murders five women in occult rituals and is stopped from a sixth, though it is later revealed he has butchered far more. Supposedly returning from the dead, Blackwood begins purging his former Temple of the Four Orders organization of those insufficiently loyal; cruelly killing his own father; and burning another man alive. Intending on starting a massive war to strengthen Britain and reclaim America, Blackwood intends on injecting cyanide gas into Parliament to kill all those there who aren't his supporters.
  • Crazy Awesome: Holmes, who else?!
  • Fandom Rivalry: Fans of the similarly recent and contemporary audience-aiming Sherlock are expected to be rivals to fans of these movies. Generally averted with yet a third one, Elementary, due to those's own rivalry with Sherlock fans.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The revolver that Holmes leaves behind causing Watson to say "He left it there on purpose" to the dog? It's a Webley Bulldog.
    • Also, the revolver he uses as the base for his homemade silencer? A Nagant M1895 revolver. It's a Russian gun that wasn't made until four years later, but it's also the only revolver that can have a silencer put on it in real life.
    • Holmes credits Adler on "Scandal ruins engagement between Habsburg Prince and Romanov Princess," a subtle reference to the original story, a Scandal in Bohemia, where Irene Adler plays a major role. Bohemia, of course, was part of Austria-Hungary, ruled by the House of Habsburg.
    • The four human sacrifices made by Lord Blackwood are themed after the four elements. Reordan is buried in earth. Lord Rotheram is drowned in his bathtub. Embassador Standish is burned alive. The element of air is represented by the cyanide-based gas used on the attempt at the lives of the Parliament members.
    • The sacrifices also have a biblical theme. The animals they represent are not only parts of the sphinx but also the symbols of the Four Evangelists: the ox is the symbol of St. Luke. The eagle represents St. John. The lion indicates St. Mark. The symbol of man is possibly a reference to the angel of St. Matthew.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In-universe. At the end of the first movie. Irene teases Holmes that he'll miss her which he agrees. Then came the opening of the second movie and Holmes later learning of her fate...
    • Irene also drugs him in the first film, and he doesn't realize at first. She dies by drinking poisoned tea.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Stephen Fry flirted with Hugh Laurie on A Bit of Fry and Laurie. Laurie went on to play House (who was based very heavily on Holmes), and Stephen Fry went on to play Mycroft. Does that make it incest?
    • Years earlier Jude Law had been a guest actor on an episode of Granada Television's adaptation of the original Holmes stories.
    • Watson remarks that Captain Tanner "drinks like a fish". Who does Tanner's actor Clive Russell later portray in Game of Thrones? Brynden 'The Blackfish' Tully!
    • This film would not be the only Holmes adaptation to feature a naked Sherlock and Irene.
    • In this film Mark Strong plays the Big Bad in a Sherlock Holmes adaptation. In The Imitation Game, Mark Strong plays a supporting role while the main character is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who also plays Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock.
    • 1917 features Mark Strong along Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott (Moriarty in the aforementioned Sherlock), on the same side, again.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Already a major part of fanon regarding Holmes and Watson, but the movies intentionally play it up as much as they can. Check HoYay.Sherlock Holmes for extensive details.
    • In the run-up to the film's release, Downey trolled the media by making remarks in an interview implying that the film would have heavy homoeroticism between Holmes and Watson, making it sound as if they might even end up shagging on screen. This provoked at least one conservative pundit to publicly show his total ignorance of the existence of Yaoi Fangirls.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis:
    • The film's divergences from the canon can be handily explained by applying the standard theory that Watson's published accounts were somewhat fictionalized (with the film, by this hypothesis, showing the actual reality). Considering what happened to Blackwood's poison gas device (confiscated by the military), it's possible that Holmes and Watson were sworn to secrecy for reasons of national security. Hence, Watson couldn't publish this one. This would explain why he ends up sneaking bits of dialogue into other stories.
    • The second film's framing device is Watson writing "The Final Problem", the actual short story that A Game of Shadows is loosely based on.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Discombobulate.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Many aspects of the film (i.e. Holmes and especially Watson - stereotyped as a bumbling sidekick - as action heroes, Holmes as a bohemian) which were criticized as being unfaithful to the original stories actually are (relatively) faithful to them - it's Pop-Cultural Osmosis of less faithful adaptations that makes these aspects seem especially out-of-place. (Still, one mustn't discount the undeniable Character Exaggeration in this interpretation.)
    • The movie also lacks Holmes's deerstalker hat, calabash pipe, and the "Elementary, my dear Watson!" catchphrase, all of which are extremely common in adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. As its name implies, the deerstalker was made for hunters, not for everyday city wear. It's only mentioned twice in the storiesnote , worn by Holmes appropriately in the countryside, while most contemporary illustrations show Holmes using a straight billard pipe - the calabash came from an early stage adaptation whose lead chose the pipe so his mouth would not be obstructed. Despite this, both become part of his Iconic Outfit wherever he goes. As for "Elementary, my dear Watson!", Holmes never said the exact phrase in the stories.
  • Narm: A villain named Lord Coward (which is not even a Meaningful Name).
  • Spiritual Adaptation: The movie could be considered this of Vidocq, a 2001 French film. The latter's protagonist is Eugene Francois Vidocq (1775-1857), a real-life French criminal-turned-investigator who is often called the first Private Detective of all time, but just like this film, instead of using established "canon" material, the movie pits Vidocq against a supernatural killer who ostensibly uses magic to murder his victims and has ties to the very top of Parisian society. Recycle these ideas IN LONDON and you've got this film (with the difference, however, that the Vidocq villain was actually supernatural instead of being just a very skilled illusionist).
  • Squick:
    • The slaughterhouse sequence. How they showed pigs being sliced in half and getting a PG-13 rating is a mystery worthy of Holmes. Perhaps slicing up pig carcasses, as opposed to living pigs, is fair game for the censors.
    • That scene was made more disturbing for many by the sounds the band saw made while cutting through the meat. In addition to the usual mechanical whizzing a saw would make, the effects team added the shrill sound of a pig squealing in pain or terror to the saw noise. The overall effect of the sound was brilliantly subtle and made the scene even more uncomfortable to watch than it would've been normally.
  • Tainted by the Preview: The first trailer made Holmes seem more like if House and Iron Man had a baby in Victorian times than the real Sherlock Holmes, which seemed to confirm the fans's fears that the film would be an unholmesian extravaganza. Heated Arguments arose with every new clip and trailer, which only served to make the matters worse. These controversies only started to die out after the film premiered to positive reviews.
  • The Un-Twist: The identity of Irene Adler's employer (Professor Moriarty) is this to a lot of people. Given that we are actually told early on that he's a professor, it's possible that the director intended it as a Fan Bonus so that it would be obvious only to fans.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: At first, people were skeptical about choosing the guy who played Charlie Chaplin, Tony "Iron Man" Stark and Kirk "a dude playin' a dude, disguised as another dude" Lazarus as Holmes. Downey Jr. himself was at first puzzled as to why they wanted him for the part. However, being the skilled actor he is, he nailed it.


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