With Steven Spielberg in the producing chair it should come as no real susprise that 1985s YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES as a definite Indiana Jones influence to it - most specifically Spielberg's most recent entry (at that time) into the popular frnachise INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ancient hidden temple setting where our young heroes uncover much of the villains evil plot.
For a Sherlockian the movie is a curious anomaly, but incredibly entertaining. We know from the books of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that Dr. Watson met Sherlock Holmes when both were in adulthood, yet this movie poses the irresistible `what-if' they had met earlier when both were in boarding school.
As one would expect with a movie from Spielberg's Amblin company, this movie is very colorful and filed with dazzling special effects - courtesy of Industrial Light and Magic. The plot essentially takes a back seat to the fun of spotting Holmesian references, watching his already developing deductive intellect solving puzzles and rooting for a bittersweet, blossoming romance between Holmes (played by Nicholas Rowe of LA FEMME MUSKETEER) and Elizabeth (Sophie Ward).
For what it's worth the central plot involves a poisoned darts, hallucinations, DaVinci inventions, a strange Egyptian religious cult and a mysterious secret several distinguished men have kept buried for years. It all makes for some very Spielbergesque style adventure entertainment that director Barry (RAIN MAN) Levinson manages to weave into an enjoyable and intriguing movie.
Sherlockian purists will likely find this premise hard to swallow, but as a diehard fan of the Great Detective, I for one had a great time with this movie.
Unquestionably the chracterization of Watson is influenced more by the Rathbone-Bruce movies of the 1930s and 1940s than Conan Doyles novels with this movie featuring Alan Cox in the part of the future doctor, a role he handles well with warmth and good humor.
Also of note in this movie is some wonderful period costumes and impressive sets.
With doses of mystery, fantasy, intrigue and adventure this movie is easy to recommend, not only for Sherlockians but for those of us who simply enjoy good, solid, fun movies.