Monday, December 14, 2015


Watching the aging Trekkers complain of the Beastie-Boys-backed trailer for the new movie Star Trek Beyond on social media has been tremendous fun today. Since Benedict Cumberbatch has moved on from the second Trek to the second Zoolander now, it would seem that event has no Sherlock-related value. But it just reminding me of my own personal peccadillo so much . . . you know the one.

Star Trek's latest translation to the big screen, over two-and-an-upcoming movies, has basically been the same as Sherlock Holmes's translation to that same big screen. And what works on the big screen when a studio wants to make big money?


As we see the return of Star Wars to the big screen this week, it's easy to be reminded of what it brought back to theaters in 1977: action serial cliffhanger excitement. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo at their best aren't sitting around having character development. They're heading into the heart of enemy space, falling into garbage compactors that have a resident monster, falling into a coliseum cage with a resident monster, strolling into a dinner where the resident monster is at the head of the table . . . and that's in between the firefights and chases.

We don't usually consider Sherlock Holmes an action hero, despite some of his more thrilling adventures. Interestingly, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution going to film in 1976 took the same course as the Downey Jr. movies in part . . . for a story about kicking drug addiction with Sigmund Freud, there was quite a lot of chases and near-death escapes. Even Sigmund Freud cannot escape getting into action scenes when it comes to the movies. It's just what movies like to do. (Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett is going to be fighting zombies now, if you hadn't heard. That's how deep the rabbit hole goes.)

And, for better or worse, I do like big, commercial, Hollywood movies, too. So I can be very forgiving when it comes to translating Sherlock Holmes to the big screen with a character more like a quirky Tony Stark in a steampunk version of a typical action movie. Much morseo than a typical evening detective procedural on television. At some point, it gets very hard to separate out our personal tastes from what does or does not make a worthwhile Sherlock Holmes.

And, personally, I would definitely go see a Sherlock Holmes movie with a Beastie Boys tune running through its teaser trailer instead of a violin score. I might have had a better time with a certain television show if it had taken bigger risks and pushed the Sherlockian envelope a little further. The thing about big risks -- sometimes the farther you stray on purpose, the stronger you make the tethers that tie you to your home base.

But, hey, nothing makes everybody happy. Ever. So sometimes, you gotta just sit back and enjoy the caterwauling. Who knows, after whatever the latest punk-disco-rap-dubstep-club phase of music finishes up, caterwauling might be the next big trend in listening pleasure . . . .


  1. Says the man who hates Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock for not giving you want you want.

  2. And you must admit that for all their action and steampunkery, the Downey Sherlock Holmes movies also wear their love for the canon on their sleeve (and their tech advisor was Les Klinger, so...). Tentpole movies can't NOT be action-oriented; a version of the BBC Sherlock on the big screen would be an "arthouse" movie and would probably never make money: too talky and way too arty for Peoria or Berlin or Beijing.