This theme has been brewing in me for a while. How to explain to screen fans what good writing is? It is not George Lucas in Stars Wars…
What sticks in my craw most is two worthwhile actors like Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law lending their talents to what is supposedly meant to be a Sherlock Holmes movie. Arthur Conan Doyle is not considered on the highest level of writers, rather among the best of the “nonserious” writers. But he was among the greatest mystery/detective writers and went to a great deal of trouble to create a character who is still the most memorable of all sleuths — Sherlock Holmes. Try looking for him in this latest film, which will corrupt the character for an entire generation of film-watchers wanting to know who Sherlock Holmes is.
Maybe to this and recent generations it doesn’t matter — just like the dumbed-down cardboard-cutout portrayals over the past 20 years of the original 1966-69 Star Trek characters. The original writers were thinking people who came from theatre and the Golden Age of Television in the Fifties and early Sixties. They knew what it was to conceive and create characters and genuine Science Fiction concepts and relate them to reality. The line between Science Fiction and soap opera fantasy is the difference between Leonard Nimoy as Mr Spock and whoever it is playing a cutesie nonhuman called “Data” in that more recent series and the banal lines Data is called on to utter and the faces he pulls.
Since I began this piece, so-called writers of the screen have gone far past the point of even trying to maintain a facade of integrity or nodding acquaintance with creative truth. A prime example of this is Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter — which poses that the 16th president of the United States had not nearly enough on his plate and trained himself up to Ninja standard with a silver axe, all the better to slay those pesky vampires that are everywhere these days, and apparently always have been. Worse, this turns out to be merely one of a series that has old Honest Abe concerned with everything but preserving The Union and freeing the slaves.
Marvel Comics and their many modern colleagues must be licking their lips at the trend to breaking all fidelity with character and the coming bonanza in modern art, as a steroid-pumped Albert Einstein travels forward in time to take on and lock biceps with The Terminator; Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela team up to use their native arts to quell the next rise of the zombies; and Stephen Hawking rides forth on his nuclear-powered wheelchair to deal to a werewolf pack — the evil ones not the good ones.