Jan 4, 2010
It doesn't take a genius detective to figure out that pictures help ease the imagination, so it's no wonder wannabe movie makers are now relying heavily on comics and graphic novels to sell their ideas to studios. One recent example? The holiday's box office success - Sherlock Holmes.
There have been countless incarnations of the famous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character but none quite like this take by director Guy Ritchie. Before Ritchie, producer Lionel Wigram created a treatment for the film but decided to go the extra step. "It's one thing to write that the new Holmes has a bohemian or rock-and-roll attitude, as Wigram was going for, but it's another to show a piece of art which embodies it," said Borys Kit of the Hollywood Reporter.
And so Wigram, showing tremendous wisdom, contacted Gregory Noveck of DC Comics to find an artist to work with. Noveck connected him with Deadman, Sandman and Savage Sword of Conan artist John Watkiss. "Wigram used his own money, $5,000 of it, to have Watkiss draw up scenes from Wigram's story, working with the artist to come up with the best take. Wigram then bound them in a comic book form and published a small amount of them in order to pitch his take," said THR.
The creation wasn't a true comic, basically just fancy storyboarding (there weren't even word balloons), but it was impressive enough Warner Bros. exec Dan Lin and president Jeff Robinov gave it the green light. "What he drew was what I imagined, but better," said Wigram. "And if you compare Guy Ritchie's screen version to the images, there's a direct connection. Watkiss deserves a lot of credit and recognition for this." The film has made $140 million domestically since it's Christmas Day opening, not bad for a dusty old detective from 1887, but that five grand must be looking pretty shabby right now in comparison.
According to THR, "There was talk of DC making a 'Holmes' comic, maybe using the images, maybe not, but the movie project found itself fast-tracked and swept away once Ritchie and then Robert Downey Jr. came on board, and Wigram never had a chance to revisit the idea." Of course with movie/comic tie-ins running amok these days I wouldn't consider the idea shelved just yet.
The movie itself, which I took in this weekend, was just as entertaining as the trailers made it look. Detractors of Ritchie needn't worry, Sherlock Holmes doesn't come across like his standard fare. The size and scope are tremendous and beautiful with every piece of the puzzle fitting in just so. Jenny Beavan and Melissa Meister's costume design is worthy of an Oscar nomination as well as Hans Zimmer's jaunty musical score. (A note to soundtrack collectors, the boxing scenes Irish song is not included on the disc. It's "The Rocky Road to Dublin" by The Dubliners.)
The actors were perfect fits as far as I'm concerned. Rachel McAdams and Jude Law were fantastic supporters of the increasingly dashing Robert Downey Jr. He played Holmes with a casual brilliance and more than a little intellect. In fact, this Holmes reminded me of two modern characters. Jason Bourne, for his ability to use anything at hand as a weapon of mass destruction and Batman, for his pure deductive skills and the personality not to brag about them.
Will there be a sequel to this modern period piece? No shit Sherlock!