I hate paying to watch a catastrophic mess on the big screen, especially one that is over 2 hours long. Such a film physically drains you of any energy and you don’t feel like watching another film for a long time. Enter Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie’s latest attempt to reclaim his cinematic mojo after a string of failures (and a divorce from Madonna). There have been a number of big-budget disappointments this year (most notably, Transformers 2) and Sherlock Holmes has just been added to that list. I’m sure I will be among the minority of people who dislike this film, but I hope this review will dissuade you from going out and paying money to see it.

I probably don’t have to go into detail on what this movie is about as most are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes character. This time, the detective is played by Robert Downey, Jr. and his assistant, Dr. Watson, is played by Jude Law. A love interest is created for Holmes, who is played by Rachel McAdams. There isn’t much in the way of plot other than the duo is out to get a bad guy bent on world domination. Creative stuff.

Sherlock Holmes fails mainly because Guy Ritchie was simply not the right person to direct this movie. Its big-budget, visual eye-candy that eschews any substance in favor of style. This is a fast food version of Sherlock Holmes that is more reminiscent of Jerry Bruckheimer than anything else. Ritchie fails to bring any emotion and, more importantly, suspense and mystery. What you basically get is a fast-paced action movie for the ADD crowd.

The biggest appeal for audiences is not Sherlock Holmes, but Robert Downey, Jr. Since Iron Man, the actor has been on a meteoric career rise and he’s been cast in one big film after another. If you like Robert Downey’s mannerisms and the usual characters he plays in all his films, you *may* enjoy this film. I personally enjoy the actor’s usual schtick and I thought it was especially appropriate for his Tony Stark role in Iron Man. However, he alone cannot save a film that suffers from structural problems. Here, Robert Downey basically plays a British version of his Tony Stark character. He is fun to watch, but its nothing we have not seen before in previous films.

Jude Law makes a welcome return to the silver screen as Dr. Watson. However, unlike his previous roles, Law plays second fiddle to Robert Downey. He plays a reluctant partner to Robert Downey and what bothered me about his character was that you don’t feel any sense of camaraderie between he and Sherlock Holmes. The duo lack any bond between them and instead of feeling like they have known each other for a long time and care for each other, they seem annoyed by each other.

Rachel McAdams is the requisite love interest, which differs from the literary Sherlock Holmes. The studio or the filmmakers probably felt compelled to introduce a girlfriend for Sherlock Holmes because thats what audiences supposedly want. I have yet to buy McAdams in anything she has done in the past and this film is no exception. Her character is dull and you feel absolutely no chemistry between she and Holmes. For someone who is supposed to have outwitted Sherlock Holmes twice in the past, the film does a poor job of demonstrating this.

I felt the villain was the weakest aspect of Sherlock Holmes. Once again, we get a pure evil bastard who is bent on, what else, taking over the world. Sherlock Holmes is not known for taking on such global threats. Professor Moriarty is the archenemy of Sherlock Holmes. He is to Holmes what The Joker is to Batman and there was no good reason why he should not have been the villain in this movie.

For everything that is wrong with Sherlock Holmes, there were a few things I did manage to like. The film score by Hans Zimmer is wonderful and this should come as no surprise considering Zimmer is arguably the best film composer working today. The production design of the film is also beautifully done. The filmmakers successfully (and wisely) give us a London that is dark and foreboding. There is a nice mix of gothic London and the Industrial Revolution.

Sherlock Holmes is probably going to be successful at the box office and I’m sure many people will enjoy it for the light fluff that it is. However, I wish the filmmakers had adhered more closely to the literary version of the character. I would have preferred a less action-packed film and one where you actually see the detective using his brains to solve the crime. Furthermore, the choice of villain was horrible and it severely detracts from the enjoyment of the movie. If you are looking for a good holiday movie to watch, go see AVATAR. If you have already seen it, see it again.