NOW WHERE TO START?
The game is in progress ”is the classic catchphrase that goes along with the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes. Created by Sir Author Conan Doyle, the character of Sherlock Holmes (and his 221B Baker Street residence in London, England) has enchanted readers and viewers alike, following the clever English detective (usually in the Victorian era) who solves cases and is mysterious. The character has many other friends and enemies along the way, including Dr. John Watson (Sherlock’s loyal companion), his brother Mycroft and the Scottish court inspector Lestrad, Sherlock’s landlady Mrs. Hudson and his long-time rival Professor James Moriarty. Sherlock Holmes has become a classic literary figure for decades, translating beyond the writing side, as has been the case in other media and facets, including television and movies like 1939 The adventures of Sherlock Holmes1959 The Baskerville Dog1985 The young Sherlock Holmes1986 The great mouse detective, 2009 Sherlock Holmes, BBC’s crime drama television show Sherlock (2010), Sherlock Gnomes 2018 and 2018 Holmes & Watson. Now a new twist on the old classic Mystery Tales comes to the fore as Netflix and director Harry Bradbeer bring a new iteration of the Holmes tale to the world with the release of Enola Holmes;; based on the first book of the same name by Nancy Springer. Is the “game underway” for this new super sleuth incarnation or is it lost in its own turn of puzzles and intrigues?
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobbie Brown) was raised by her fellow, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), and trained her in independence and intelligence to make her a powerful force in the world. However, her sheltered life with her mother pales in comparison to the efforts of her brothers, super detective Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and government man Mycroft (Sam Claflin). Unfortunately one day Eudoria disappears; Leaving Enola to wonder what happened to her mother and sending Sherlock and Mycroft to go back to childhood and assess the situation. As her legal guardianship, Mycroft plans to take Enola to a senior school run by Ms. Harrison (Fiona Shaw) to turn her unconventional mindset into a real woman. However, Enola has a better plan: she flees to London to look for Eudoria, following the clues she left behind. She is distracted on this mission by Lord Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), a lone young man on the run with family problems and who gives Enola someone to protect her if she becomes embroiled in mysterious intrigue and political turmoil.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
If this opening sounds a bit familiar, it’s because it was said (along with part of this paragraph) during my review for Holmes & Watson. Both paragraphs make it clear what I want to say on this matter. So … as mentioned in my 2018 review … while I was a fan of reading books and anything literary, I actually never got any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works on Sherlock Holmes (or any other author who built ) read from the myth of Sherlock Holmes). Even so, I actually got a good understanding of the character and persona that are normally used to London’s greatest detective. Probably my first “taste” was Sherlock Holmes from the 1986 Disney animated film The Great mouse detectivewho build classic “Sherlock” persona and introduce myself to Doyle’s character (albeit through animated creatures). Of course, I see a lot of other iterations and parodies with Sherlock Holmes, some more recently like Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes (dear Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as Sherlock and Watson) as well as the BBC show Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch has been named Sherlock Holmes). Suffice it to say that the nature of Sherlock Holmes is a mixture of cheek and shrewdness and that a fictional character (on whatever platform) is always worth something to be seen and / or read. At least I think personally (I never get old from the character). However, see 2018 Holmes & Watson (an unfortunate mess of a movie) could prove that theory is wrong.
Of course, that makes me talk again Enola Holmes, a 2020 drama feature scheduled for release by Warner Bros. Pictures and scheduled to release in theaters in April 2020. Naturally, given the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner Bros. decided to forego a theatrical release for the film and sell the project to Netflix, which (again) set a new release date for the film on September 23approx, 2020. I can honestly say that I really didn’t hear much about this film … not even during its announcement / production phase as it was completely under my radar. I was a bit surprised when I saw the official trailer for the film for Enola Holmes which I have to say I was a little intrigued by. As I’ve mentioned in several reviews … I’m a sucker for contemporary pieces so I was definitely on board to see a movie like this with some aspect of a “masterpiece” like visual look to the project. Also, I was a little interested to see what the film would do with the whole Sherlock Holmes myth. So while I was fascinated to see it Enola HolmesI decided not to see it as I was a little busy with work. So … I finally have some free time and decided to watch the movie. And what did I think of that? Well it was okay. While the film was made with attention to detail in the veins of many Sherlock Holmes tales that have come and gone, Enola Holmes seems difficult to differentiate despite his strong performance from Millie Bobby Brown. What is presented is good, but nothing new.
Enola Holmes Directed by Harry Bradbeer, whose previous directorial work includes projects such as Fleabag, Killing Eve and Sugar Rush. Bradbeer approaches the subject and seems to capture the essence of the Sherlock Holmes myth. The feature has a greater sense of mystery and super sleuthing when sculpting it Enola into a kind of “next generation” framework in which the story of the film focuses on Enola Holmes’ character as the central protagonist. Sure, both Sherlock and Mycroft are there, but turning the film’s story around their sister seems a bit interested and in keeping with the modern times when central female protagonists are strong and independent women, not just one woman in danger. That’s not to say Bradbeer defaced the movie as a Sherlock Holmes-like endeavor, in the face of a lot of brawl and mystery, locking it into a grand conspiracy theory that Enola and his company must decipher. Similar to several other projects in films and television series, Bradbeer uses the “fourth wall break” in Enola Holmes. Getting Enola to narrate the feature and speak to us directly for some scenes, and while this is not entirely original, it’s quite amusing / entertaining to use.
From the presentation of the feature Enola Holmes looks very good; shows a cinematic interpretation of Victorian England with a flair for contemporary nuances. From stately country mansions to the streets of London, the movie’s background layout and locations are consistently solid and definitely feel theatrically appropriate for the movie’s setting in a “masterpiece” of similar aspects / nuances. Therefore, the team “behind the scenes” of the film, to which Michael Carlin (production design), Lisa Chugg (stage design), Consolata Boyle (costume design) and the various members of the Art Direction for their efforts to “visually” awaken this film with a lot Attention to detail to life. Speaking of graphics, the feature cameraman (Giles Nuttgens) does a pretty good job of doing some nifty camera angles to make the movie “pop” (visually). Finally, the film music composed by Daniel Pemberton complements the film in a good way. Harmonizing his musical composition with many visual scenes of the feature … be it action or character dialogue moments.
Unfortunately, Enola Holmes is not all that matters and is consistently criticized several times. Don’t get me wrong … it’s entertaining, but it will never reach its full potential. How come? First of all, the main problem with the film is that nothing extraordinary is done for a Sherlock Holmes role. Yes, the main narrative reason for switching from Sherlock to Enola to lead is very different, but more or less the overall structure of everything that is presented is a pretty straightforward Sherlock Holmes mystery adventure. While this might be good for fans in part (as mentioned above), I got a feeling the film just seems like a generic Sherlock Holmes adaptation. I mean, other similar projects have done something different, including the BBC Sherlock TV series that set the scene for modern history, or Guy Ritchie’s use of his own creative directing styles in his two Sherlock Holmes films. Bradbeer’s Enola Holmes just seems to be a pretty general conundrum, with all of the “same old, same old” nuances of a Sherlock Holmes adventure running around or gathering clues. What is presented is appropriate, but feels pretty overwhelmed with many of the standard tropes of a Sherlock Holmes mystery and nothing relatively new. Bradbeer seems to only “go through the motions” to strive for a female Sherlock Holmes, and nothing more.
In addition, the script of the film, which was taken from Nancy Springer’s novel and written by Jack Thorne, seems a bit confused. I’m not saying it’s complex or any kind of “head scratch”, but there are too many storylines woven together to fit into a roughly two-hour movie. Thus, some narrative beats and plot threads become distracted and empty for large chunks of the film’s runtime, as if some ideas are lingering on the floor of the writing room. This also results in the film having several speed issues throughout, which from time to time makes the film feel unbalanced. Also, the majority of Enola Holmes appears to be a “pain by numbers” in a formulaic fashion, with neither Bradbeer nor Thorne being able to capture tantalizing excitement in his story or even in their characters, who are lacking in most areas and something feel underdeveloped most of the time.
The occupation Enola Holmes has a lot of recognizable faces throughout the role (whether starring or supporting) so it’s definitely fun in that regard. However, some of the characterizations are either rather bland and generically written (both in terms of the mystery films and the tropics of Sherlock Holmes), and some of the acting talents don’t seem entirely polished. Who actually shines best in the film is the film’s main character, Enola Holmes, played by actress Millie Bobby Brown. Known for her roles in Strange things, Intruders, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters‘Brown has certainly become an aspiring young actress and cemented those ideas in this particular feature film; able to treat himself in the main title role of the feature. She undoubtedly embodies the ideals of what Enola is; Grasping the cleverness and the good endowment (mental and physical) of the character. The big downside, again, is that Enola is basically just like Sherlock (only in girl form), so the character doesn’t go much beyond a gender change. Even so, Brown is perfect for the role and perhaps the most memorable character / actor in the entire film. As a side note, actor Louis Partridge (Paddington 2 and Medici) does a decent job in the role of Tewkesbury, a young lord and love interest in Enola. He fits what the film needs from him, but doesn’t really have an unforgettable performance.
Enola Holmes includes recognizable names in the cast as the larger supporting cast help make the film better; give the project its theatrical weight. Because of their secondary involvement in the film, some of these characters suffer from flat and thin sketching, which is strange since these characters I am speaking of are some of Doyle’s most famous creations in the Sherlock Holmes tales. Of course, I’m talking about the characters of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes who were portrayed in the film by actors Henry Cavill (man of Steel and The witcher) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Me before you). Unfortunately, despite their cult literary status, these two characters are pretty boring in the movie. Cavill can be found in the role of “wooden” to play the Sherlock title character, and Claflin as Mycroft for “hammy” (the somewhat antagonistic obstacle in the film in some scenes). Interestingly, actress Helena Bonham Carter (The crown and Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber on Fleet Street) as the mother of the three Holmes siblings Eudoria Holmes. Compared to Cavill and Claflin, Carter outshines them and leaves a slightly more memorable impression on the character, which is sad (again) for Sherlock and Mycroft fans out there.
The rest of the cast, including actor Burn Gorman (TURN: Washington’s spies and Pacific Rim) as Linthorn, actor Adeel Akhtar (The big sick one and Victoria & Abdul) as Lestrade, actress Susan Wokoma (carrier and Year of the rabbit) as Edith, actress Fiona Shaw (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Real blood) as Miss Harrison, actress Claire Rushbook (Don’t forget the driver and temple) as Mrs. Lane, actress Hattie Morahan (Beauty and the Beast and Mr. Holmes) and actor David Bamber (Valkyrie and Rome) as Tewkesbury’s mother and uncle Lady Tewkesbury and Sir Whimbrel Tewkesbury and as actress Frances de la Tour (In the forest and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) play minor supporting characters in the film as Tewkesbury’s grandmother (i.e., The Dowager), and while many only have a handful of scenes (two or three at most), those acting talents have certainly increased occasionally and have consistently provided solid performances.
A new twist on an old classic begins when Sherlock’s sisters use their super sleuth skills to solve a puzzle in the film Enola Holmes. The latest film from director Harry Bradbeer takes up the myth of Sherlock Holmes in an interesting way. Drawing from Springer’s novels in order to create a somewhat “new perspective” on the detective work of the fictional Holmes (still her sister) for a new generation. While the costumes and set pieces are good-natured (and fully exhibited) and with the intention of creating something new (with Brown delivering a strong lead in the lead), the film feels like old detective Holmes at work from previous / similar projects; There is nothing particularly innovative or creative about the ongoing story of Sherlock Holmes fiction. Personally, I thought this movie was fine. It caught my attention and was decent enough, but I don’t think it’s as spectacular as many reviewers imagine it to be. So my recommendation for this film is a “dodgy choice” as some will like it while others will consider it a “meh” company. With critical praise, the idea of tackling other Enola Holmes films has surfaced online to enable a continuation of the film series. I just hope there is some ingenuity and creative styles out there that can flow these potential guesswork into the narrative. Regardless of whether these future chapters come to light, Enola Holmes is a slightly new take on an old classic that clicks the refresh button but never fully executes.
Also a personal side note, Enola Holmes is my 550th film review since I started blogging. This is really a big and solemn milestone for me! I wanted to especially thank all of my readers, followers and blogger colleagues for reading my film reviews and giving me this platform to share (with you) my views on film stories.
3.1 of 5 (Iffy Choice)
Published on: 23 September 2020
Reviewed on: November 21, 2020
Enola Holmes is 121 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some violence