Movie Review- Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

This year I have become a bit of a Sherlock fanatic. I read all the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (for free, thank you Kindle!), I absolutely love the BBC Sherlock series, I enjoy Elementary a lot and I really like the old movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as well as the newer ones with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, so I was quite excited to watch Young Sherlock Holmes. Obviously it takes a lot of liberties with the concept, but I like when adaptations do that. I despise the thinking where adaptations have to adhere to strict guidelines, because it leads to a repeating of stories, I much prefer it when different angles and concepts can be explored. Of course, it doesn’t always turn out successful, so was Young Sherlock Holmes good or bad? Let’s find out – the game is afoot! 

Directed by Barry Levinson and starring Nicholas Rowe as the titular character and Alan Cox as the faithful partner Watson, Young Sherlock Holmes takes place when the two of them are at school. Initially I was a little skeptical because I thought all the action would take place at school, and there would be some mystery fitting for a boy, but actually the mystery was rather dark and very dangerous. While it takes a little while to get going we see Holmes getting into battles of wits with other students and showing off his deductive skills. We’re also introduced to a love interest, Elizabeth, played by Sophie Ward. It was a little strange to see Holmes with a love interest, although not as jarring as it could have been since recently Irene Adler has been presented as a love interest rather than a woman that Holmes respected as an equal, but the relationship was handled well and it didn’t dominate the story at all. 

As for the mystery, as I mentioned it was darker than I expected. It was also very interesting and it didn’t quite have me guessing until the end, but it was very intriguing and I’m glad they went for an original mystery rather than try to adapt a classic story for the different time. I though the script was well-written and it unfolded at a nice pace. There were some very dramatic portions and a good deal of action too. One thing I would like to single out is the use of special effects, very impressive, perhaps the most dramatic was the CGI knight. 

The acting was good as well, I think it’s a shame that this film is looked over when people talk about adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Nicholas Rowe should be mentioned alongside the other actors because his portrayal of Holmes was excellent. Alan Cox was great as Watson as well, and I really liked how he had a valuable and important part to play in the climax. It’s not so much nowadays, but in the Rathbone/Bruce films Watson was often bumbling around and was a few steps off the pace, and I’m glad they didn’t try to emulate that interpretation of the character (although there were a few clumsy moments!). 

I really liked this one. I’m a sucker for Holmes, but I thought this did a great job at putting a spin on the character without compromising the essence or integrity of the character. There was a good mix of action, drama and humour and the mystery was sufficiently interesting. The villain was menacing as well, and I’d highly recommend this, especially if you’re a fan of Sherlock. I think it’s part of the Holmes library that is sadly overlooked (at least, I haven’t heard much talk about it) and it should have more recognition. 

Marvel has made it a popular practice to put scenes at the end of the credits, but there is one such scene at the end of this film as well. I won’t tell you what it is, but I’m in two minds about it. Part of me thinks it wasn’t really needed, but it’s also tantalising as well, and I think it’s a shame that a sequel was never made. I thought that anyway when the film finished, but after the extra scene I thought it doubly so. I know there’s a lot of Holmes media out there, but I would be very excited if they decided to make a sequel to this.

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