“Sherlock Holmes” / “Avatar”: a brief review

| December 25, 2009
I swear this exact scene was in Avatar. Except everyone was blue.

I swear this exact scene was in "Avatar". Except everyone was blue.

I saw “Avatar” (in 3-D) yesterday afternoon and saw “Sherlock Holmes” this afternoon.

I’ll be going back to see “Sherlock Holmes” again, probably within a week; “Avatar” will have to wait for DVD, if then.

“Avatar” is worth seeing once on the large screen, in 3-D, just for the sheer visual spectacle and technical brilliance. But the plot, character development (or lack thereof) and dialog is every bit as wretched, unoriginal, and stereotypical as others have warned. The film really, really isDances with Wolves” meets “Ferngully: the Last Rainforest“, to such an extent that I felt embarrassed for James Cameron, who wrote and directed the film. Not only was there not an original thought, theme, or plot twist in the entire film, the whole film was largely predictable from the start, with developments telegraphed far in advanced, and the characters were unrelentingly one-dimensional. No nuances, shading, or sympathies here. The “aliens” look, dress, ride, fight, and even whoop like stereotypical Hollywood Indians, and their bodies — largely human except for being (a) blue, (b) 15 feet tall, (c) with a tail, and (d) having a neural interface built in to their ‘pony tail’ — make no sense for the environment, particularly having plain human feet (5 toes, none-prehensile big toe) in an arboreal environment. The longer I go since leaving the theater yesterday, the less I think of the film — the technical excellence fades and the bad taste of the actual underlying film remains.

By contrast, “Sherlock Holmes” is worth seeing repeatedly, both on the big screen and once the DVD comes out. It is a deceptively excellent film. I say “deceptively” because it is only when it is over that you begin to realize just how well the entire film was directed, edited, performed, and art-directed. Robert Downey Jr (in the title role) does more to establish Holmes’ character within the first few minutes of the film than any of the “Pandora” actors do during that film’s entire 2:40 length. The chemistry between Downey and Jude Law (who plays Watson) is instant, real, and believable. All the characters are complex, imperfect, and conflicted, yet drive towards their respective goals, enduring the consequences along the way. And it’s all great fun, with some real tension and great visuals along the way. It probably noses out “District 9” as the best film I’ve seen this year.

Based on my own viewings — and based on the crowds today waiting to see “Sherlock Holmes” — I not only think that “Sherlock Holmes” will win the weekend box office, I think that it will dominate “Avatar” for the rest of their respective box office runs here in the US. Your mileage may vary.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Main, Movies, Reviews

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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