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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cough, hack, splutter etc

"Doctor, last night I dreamed about a giant rotating cockroach that was trying to eat me"
"It's just a nasty bug going around"

I've been a bit poorly this week, knocked sideways by a throaty, chesty thing. It's been somewhat dispiriting; 4 days off work and barely being able to move without coming over all John Hurt.

The strangest thing was having a nap on Tuesday afternoon, then being unable to sleep until midnight on Wednesday, a full 32 hours later. It all felt a bit spaced out at that point.

Thankfully I had Skyrim to see me through. It's an unremittingly addictive game, and surely the biggest ever made. I've been playing compulsively for ages and I've barely started the main plot.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

The Adventure of the Three Sherlocks

I have been on a complete movie/TV Sherlock Holmes kick recently, taking in all 14 Basil Rathbone movies, the second season of the BBC series and the first of the Guy Ritchie movies. A comparison/evaluation is in order.

Incidentally, I have also read all of the Conan Doyle stories at least twice through, so I am pretty familiar with the canon.


Holmes: Basil Rathbone. The classic patrician with an impossibly quick intellect, moral core and Roman nose.
Watson: Nigel Bruce. Rather a buffoon, charming at times but largely restricted to comic relief and standing incredulous as SH explains the plot.
Moriarty: Various throughout the series, personally I liked George Zucco (who turns up as other characters later in the series).
Setting: The first two films are set in the traditionally fogbound Victorian England but, following the outbreak of WW2, abruptly switch to the 1940s. This allows for the wonderful sight of SH vs the Nazis and, as I’m sure you’ll agree, Nazis are good.
Verdict: The 14 movies vary a lot in quality, but are almost always good fun, especially as they tend to clock in at about 70 minutes. Even the flaws are endearing, such as shaky sets, Hollywood cock-er-ney accents and simplistic plotting.


Holmes: Benedict Cumberbatch. First seen walloping a corpse with a stick, and getting increasingly eccentric and seemingly heartless throughout until, eventually, some humanity peeps through.
Watson: Martin Freeman. I love the fact that he can still be an Afghanistan veteran in the updated version. He is a pretty smart cookie here, challenging SH when required but primarily required to be half of a highly entertaining double act, in which the latent homoeroticism is played for reliable laughs.
Moriarty: Andrew Scott, underplaying furiously. I can see what they were going for, but perhaps the weak link of the series for me.
Setting: Present day London with computers, iPhones and all, although pleasingly cabs and trains remain the transport methods of choice.
Verdict: The greatest asset of this series is the whipsmart writing from Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. There are numerous little gags for connoisseurs of the books, and so many examples of clever twists on the original tales that I am left delighted. Also worth mentioning is Gatiss’ splendidly creepy turn as Mycroft.

Downey Jr


Holmes: Robert Downey Jr, being the usual RDJ mixture of veryfasttalking, wild stares and looking smarter than everyone else onscreen. This version also plays up SH’s physicality, including some stylised slo-mo whup-ass.
Watson: Jude Law, seemingly limp but morphing into action hero as necessary.
Moriarty: Unseen (I imagine he features in the sequel), and so villainous duties are taken up by the always reliable Mark Strong with a nifty vampiric tooth.
Setting: A heavily CGI’ed late Victorian London, albeit one in which a trip from Baker Street to Pentonville requires crossing the river.
Verdict: A decent enough entertainment and I’ll get around to Game of Shadows on DVD I would think. Fine actors such as Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan are lost in the frenetic mix, but I was glad to see SH’s rationalist principles overcome apparent mystical hokum in true Baskervilles tradition.

The Geek Interpreter

Clearly the Downey Jr movies are the runt of the litter, although I’ll get around to watching Game of Shadows at some point I imagine.

As for the other two, it’s almost impossible to call. In the end, though, it was the Rathbone series that begat the Cumberbatches, so the winner is...