Sunday, March 22, 2015

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There are a lot of movies that I remember from my childhood to varying degrees.  Some, I remember very well.  Others, I think I remember sort of well.  Young Sherlock Holmes was one of those movies where I remembered a few scenes.  I could remember Watson arriving at a school in the beginning and Holmes leaving at the end.  I could also remember a riddle Holmes had for Watson about the color of a bear.  There was also Holmes hallucinating in a crypt Watson catching Holmes crying twice.  That’s about it.

The movie is about what it would have been like if Holmes and Watson met earlier than they did in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books.  (Doyle never wrote about either character as a child and had them meeting as adults.)  The movie begins with a man having several hallucinations resulting in him jumping from a window to his death.  After the opening credits, an adult Watson is narrating as the young Watson arrives at Brompton Academy.  The one he was attending closed due to insolvency, so he was transferring to the one Holmes is attending.  The two meet and become fast friends.

When another man hallucinates and subsequently dies, Holmes reads the obituary and sees a pattern.  Scotland Yard doesn’t; both were deemed suicides.  The thing is that there’s a cloaked figure that’s shooting poisoned thorns into their necks, so we know someone’s really out to get these people.  When Waxflatter, the former schoolmaster at Brompton, dies the same way, Holmes takes it upon himself to solve the murders with Watson’s help, regardless of what Det. Sgt. Lestrade says.

Much of the material is new, basically using established characters to tell about young versions of those characters.  A lot of movies have been made about Holmes and Watson, a few of them even taking similar liberties.  We get a few in jokes, like Waxflatter telling Holmes that something is elementary.  Watson also buys a pipe, which he eventually gives to Holmes.

I was actually surprised by how much I didn’t remember about the movie.  There were characters and scenes that were entirely unfamiliar to me.  I think that most of the reason that I don’t remember so much of this movie is that I didn’t catch a lot of these references the first time around.  (Holmes mentions his brother by name, which you may miss if you’ve never read the books.)

It’s an interesting story.  There is that family-friendly feel to it.  There are a few fight scenes and very little blood, other than a cut.  Probably the scariest thing for a child would be seeing the men hallucinating.  One sees fire everywhere while another sees a stained-glass knight attacking him.

I was able to get this streaming through Netflix.  It’s one of those movies that you’re not surprised to find out it was released in 1985.  The picture quality is good, but was probably better when it was first released.  I’m not sure how much was lost to age or transfer.  (There was no concept of Blu-Ray back then.  As for transfer, streaming probably requires a good deal of compression anyway.)

One thing I found nice was the CGI, which was much better than I’d expect.  The stained-glass knight looked about as realistic as you could expect walking stained glass to look like.  There was the scene where Waxflatter was attacked.  The CGI there looked a little patchy, but was still pretty good.

I have to admit that my main motivation here was nostalgia.  I don’t remember if I came across it while looking at the selection of movies or if I somehow remembered it and looked to see if it was there.  Either way, if you grew up in the 80s and you have Netflix, it’s worth a watch. 


No comments :