‘Mr. Holmes’ Makes Us Ask: Do We Need an Elderly Sherlock?

Mr. Holmes - Ian McKellan

Source: BBC Films

Recently, the first official trailer released for Mr. Holmes, a story about a 92-year-old Sherlock Holmes living in the English countryside while spending more time tending to bees than he does solving crimes. The general plot seems to follow the elderly Holmes as “there’s one mystery left to solve: His own.” He’s followed by a child companion who seems determined to help him along the way, but past that there aren’t many details as to what exactly will happen.

All in all, it seems like less the adventure romps that BBC’s Sherlock or Guy Ritchie’s film adaptation are, and more a quiet, period piece about that latter years of the legendary detective’s life. But this then leads us to the question: Do we really need this? Many alternate timeline stories of well-known heroes typically focus on the formative years, providing us the value of an origin story we previously didn’t know much about. To have a story take place well after a character’s prime though turns it into a retrospective moving toward very little.

We seem to have just that with Mr. Holmes if our early impressions are correct. Sherlock’s past is one that’s transcended generations. There have been countless depictions of him in TV and movies, with BBC’s version making itself the one to top thanks in large part to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s effortless chemistry on-screen. The focus of Sherlock delves into his relationship with his trusted companion Watson, told in an incredibly well-written and compelling universe. Even Guy Ritchie’s two movies have managed to at the very least entertain, even in the process of doing little justice to the novels.

Mr. Holmes may find itself struggling to gain much forward momentum, ditching the prickly, anti-social Sherlock of the past for what seems to be a huggable teddy bear version of an elderly Ian McKellan. Warm lighting and soft violins accompany this depiction of the Great Detective, ditching the grey-tones and gritty adaptions that have dominated in these last few years. Maybe it’ll make for a welcomed departure, but in all likelihood it had a bigger chance of falling flat on its face.

The true spirit of Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exist 30 to 40 years in his future, living alone on a farm. While it’s at least a little intriguing to see where he ends up after his days of crime-solving are well behind him, there’s only so far such a concept can take us. An early review from Firstshowing.net seems to heartily disagree with those reservations, calling it one of their favorite films of the early year. Not even a glowing review can completely dispel our fears though. A greater concern is whether or not the Sherlock saga even needs this chapter in his life to be told.

Maybe come release day, we’ll be proved wrong and Mr. Holmes will be the story Arthur Conan Doyle always wanted. But until that day comes, you can color us skeptical. It’s one thing to show us where a legendary character from literature started out. But to show us where he ended up is a far less fascinating story.

Follow Nick on Twitter @NickNorthwest

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