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Sherlock Holmes movie reviews -- and new books

The movie and book worlds are celebrating Sherlock Holmes, the detective made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle. On Christmas Day, moviegoers will get a look at a new interpretation of the character, one closer to James Bond than a cerebral crime-solver such as Poe's C. Auguste Dupin. Publishers are also cashing in on the renewed interest in Holmes. A series of paperbacks on "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is out; stories include "The War of the Worlds" by Manly W. and Wade Wellman and "The Veiled Detective" by David Stuart Davies. Caleb Carr's re-imagining of Holmes in "The Italian Secretary," is out in paperback.

Here's a summary of reviews of the movie:

-- Los Angeles Times: What is problematic about the film is not so much the change in character as the change in the nature of the classic Sherlock Holmes vehicle. This Hollywoodized epic has attempted to do too much, has had to serve too many masters. That's in turn given the picture an air of trying too hard, which is the one thing Sherlock Holmes should never have to do.

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-- The New Yorker: The movie is grimly overproduced and exhausting, an irritating, preposterous, but fitfully enjoyable work, in which every element has been inflated.

-- The New York Times: The failing of [director Guy] Ritchie -- and a team of four writers who share story or screenwriting credit -- is the drab plot they built around Holmes, an uninspired tale of a secret society and potentially supernatural doings. It's nonsense, a dumb Hollywood treatment that's beneath Holmes but is made watchable, even exhilarating at times, by clever chases and scuffles, a superb recreation of old London in its splendor and squalor, and the amiable interplay of the actors.

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-- Miami Herald: Right from the requisite opening action setpiece, Ritchie paces every scene at the same furious pitch, so the movie starts out in fourth gear and never downshifts. That may be fine for those who found Speed Racer fun and exciting. Others may be wondering what exactly martial arts and bullet-time photography are doing in the middle of a Sherlock Holmes picture.

-- Detroit News: The main problem with "Holmes" is Holmes himself (Robert Downey Jr.), who very early on is shown to already know everything there is to know and possess the ability to escape from any situation unscathed. There is no learning curve or dramatic arc, so there's nothing at stake to keep you invested. Even watching him solve crimes is tedious.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

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