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December 11, 1985 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-12-11

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Page 9 --The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 11, 1985

Spielberg ruins 'Sherlock'

By Byron Bull
YOUNG Sherlock Holmes, a
lighthearted yarn about what
might have happened had Sherlock
Holmes and Watson met as adolescen-
ts, is the latest of Steven Spielberg's
pet projects to hit the screen. It shares
a lot of the same formulaic elements
as its predecessors, Gremlins,
Goonies, and Back To The Future,
with teen protagonists, gratuitous
special effects, and a rousing clif-
hanger of a climax, but it also has
something they all lacked, and that's
a sense of real affection for the
project that the director, Barry
Levinson, has for it that Spielberg's
other hired hands like Joe Dante and
Roger Zemeckis, for all their
showmanship skills, sorely lacked.
Barry Levinson, who's made his
best mark to date with the sweet tem-
pered look at post adolescent blues in
Diner, is at heart a character minded
director, and he's more concerned
here with spinning a modest little bit
of fance about two junior sleuths
similar in tone to what used to be prin-
ted in young boys' adventure pulps.
Spielberg, on the other hand, wants
lots of cheap laughs, some good fast
roller coaster thrills, and a hearty
sprinkling of optical seasonings cour-
tesy buddy George Lucas' effects
shop. The result is a movie split apart
by a terrible schism of creative
desires, between Levinson's attempt
to fashion a cute little boy's adventure
and Spielberg's fast food notion o
filmmaking.
Where Levinson can get his hand
on the film, he brings it some nice lit-
tle touches, particular in his affec-
tionate treatment of Holmes and Wat-
son's burgeoning friendship, spending
more than a liberal amount of screen-
time just following the pair through
their classes and constant bantering.
Nicholas Rowe, who plays the
adolescent Holmes, is terrific in
presence, sharp with aplomb,
seeming self-possessed without being
too arrogant, and he adds a nicely
hinted at shade of melancholic
vulnerability to the part. Alex Cox's
Watson is regrettably a bit more stiff,
without much of the comic sense the
role needs so badly, but he does work
comfortably with Rowe, and there is
some measure of chemistry between
the two of them as they go dashing off
over cobblestone and through the fog
to solve the mystery of why a rash of
bizarre, apparently suicidal deaths
has swept through London.
There are lots of nice garnishes, a
cast of supporting background
characters of Dickensian color-

fulness, some creepy hooded assasins
lurking about dark alleys, blowguns in
hand, and the biggest, most wonder-
fully stagey blackout I've seen in a film
since period pieces went out of vogue
some twenty years ago.
But Levinson doesn't really click
with the material, he has genuine en-
thusiasm for the adventure, but no
sense for pacing, and the film kind of
lumbers along for a good portion of
screentime wasting its time documen-
ting the origin of every imaginable bit
of Holmesian paraphenalia -
covering where he picked up
everything from his aloof attitude
toward women, to how he came to
smoking his trademark pipe, though
there's no mention of how he ended up
a heroin addict - when it should be
tightening up the narrative.
As it is Young Sherlock loiters
playfully about for the first ninety
minutes before it suddenly tries to
switch gears into a fast, dazzling clif-
fhanger a change of temperament
that does far more damage than it
does good.
Levinson's strength as a director is
in quiet, intimate scenes between a
few characters, and trying to stage a
full-scaled Indiana Jones styled finale
he fumbles badly, ending up with a
busy but not very boistrous

hodgepodge of pyrotechnics and stun-
twork that stumbles somewhere bet-
ween mere shabby imitation of
master Spielberg and outright -
though unintentional - parody.
Levinson has enthusiasm, as I said,
but not much flair, - something that
showed up quite keenly in his mishan-
dling of The Natural - and one has to
wonder just why Spielberg chose him
for the job instead of someone like
Nicholas Meyer, the young,
exhuberant director who wrote the
screenplay for another Sherlock
Holmes adventure, The Seven Per-
cent Solution, and later did the
smashingly fun Time After Time.
Maybe Spielberg was just trying to
add a little bit of respectability to the
project, or maybe he's beginning to
notice just how devoid of characters
these films of his really are.
Whatever, he tries to insure the
cautious gamble by sticking in as

By the end one is firmly jaded by
the film's overtly commercial con-
sciousness --though how in the hell
Spielberg ever thought a period film
without a smart ass, gum-chewing
protagonist could possibly be com-
mercial is beyond me - and whatever
charm Young Sherlock had at its out-
set is firmly crushed. Too bad,
because the film will likely be a big
flop, and Spielberg will subsequently
retreat from the notion of ever again
producing a film that isn't just
another two hour toy commercial or
that is content to lower itself to
making high schoolers laugh and
cheer with the most condescendingly
base gags and routines.
Young Sherlock Holmes is a pretty
bad film, but after so much
homogenized celluloid junk food, even
this bad taste is something to actually
relish.
A defense
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many time
ideas as he
nightmarish
featuring
mechanical
animation -

tested crowd pleasing
can, with a couple of
dream sequences -
plenty of dazzling
effects and computer
a couple large scaled

MACK

fight scenes, and even - at con-
siderable harm to the movie - the old
flying kids routine is trotted out yet
one more time.

INDOOR

POOL

-I

L1

715 Brooks St.
(adjacent to Mack School)

ANN ARB
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CHOREOGRAPHY
BY JOHN DURBIN
MUSICALDIREC-
TION BY ANDREW
E. LIPPA

OR C
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IV IC HEATRE. PRESENTS
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MUSIC & LYRICS BY COLE
PORTER Q BOOK BY RUSSEL
CROUSE, HOWARD LINDSAY,
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DEC. 18-21, 1985
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through January 1, 1986
Open Sunday, January 5, 1986

21 New Ways to Shop
Arborland this Christm'as!
Christmas at Arborland Consumer Mall is the best ever. Not only
are there 51 stores offering you the best brand name merchandise
at discount prices, you'll find 21 new Christmas kiosks with exciting
gift ideas.
The Antler People - unique items made from antlers
The Chain Connection - gold by the inch
Creative Carvings - beautiful, sculptured candles
David Pahl Craft Enterprises - beerships, mail maids, sculptured pillows
and more
Four Star Sports - patches and emblems
Gerard Watch Pictures - watch part and butterfly pictures, wire trees,
and more
Gold Chain Gang - gold chains, glass & brass boxes
Golden Reign - hand crafted jewelry in brass, sterling and nickel
Hickory Farms - cheese and meats
J & M Glass Products - stained glass window items
Jack Hamilton Wood Products - wood planters, clocks, etc.
Mostly Wicker - wicker baskets, furniture and gifts
Old World Style Almonds - German roasted almonds
The Packaging Store - custom gift wrap service
Pictures Plus - graphic arts
Professor Youngblood's Photo's - period photographs with you in medieval
and victorian dress
Santa's Rest Stop - message pillows
Toy Airplane Gliders - fun gifts for kids of any age
Uncle Wiggly's Essentials - wood wall racks, clothes' trees and more
Upper Half - monogrammed stockings, glassware and more
Laser Art - using the latest technology
EXTENDED MALL HOURS: Monday-Saturday, 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
Sunday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday, December 22, 9:30 am - 9:30 pm
Tuesday, December 24, 9:30 am -.5:00 pm
Tuesday, December 31, 9:30 am - 5:00 pm
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