Nowadays, being a nerd means that the properties you love are being made into movies. Movies that you will hate. For me, there is nothing more egregious than the Guy Richie / Robert Downey Jr. “Sherlock Holmes” movies.
There’s a reason that Sherlock Holmes stories have been in print for more than a hundred years. I first stumbled upon the Great Detective in my sister’s collection of horse stories. In it was “The Silver Blaze,” a Sherlock Holmes mystery about a missing racehorse. Something about the story stuck with me and I looked for more stories of this Sherlock person. I quickly found a version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” made for kids. It had cute little illustrations and was edited down, but I loved that book.
So what is so alluring about Sherlock Holmes that to this very day I still re-read the original canon and seek out any and all non-canon works? I mean, movies, TV shows, books, short stories, I explore them all. In fact, this may be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever done: Holmesick.
I think it’s the triumph of intellect over brawn (though not shying away from it when necessary.) Perhaps it’s the triumph of Good (not the law, mind you) over Evil. And, I do have to admit I enjoy the period costumes and manners.
The character Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant man who isn’t just a repository of random trivia; he’s a genius at deduction. He doesn’t just know things; he deduces them. Even though he eschews human interaction (though he has many contacts and acquaintances his only real friend is Watson) he can turn on the charm when needed. Noted American adventuress Irene Adler only appears in ONE official story, but somehow has ended up in just about every filmed version in the past ten years. Using his powerful intellect and planning skills he avoids fisticuffs and violent confrontation and wasn’t that the dream of the Victorian Age? Reason over rumble?
The current franchise of movies prizes chase scenes and slow motion fights over reasoning and deduction. In prizing style and substance, these movies betray the very heart of the original canon. It’s pure, stereotypical Hollywoodization of a property; add more explosions, running, gratuitous sex/nudity and just use the names and basic ideas.
Out of all the bastardizations I have nerdily suffered (new Star Trek, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Watchmen, Tim Burton’s Batman movies, et al.) this is the most annoying. I guess in the long run, maybe, just maybe, someone will be inspired to read one of the original stories and then it’s worth it. Maybe.