I needn’t have worried: Young Sherlock Holmes holds up surprisingly well. Not only that, but my daughter — who at almost 14 naturally watches anything Dad-endorsed with a certain amount of overdramatic reluctance despite the fact that I haven’t steered her wrong yet — loved it and has gone back for more viewings.
There’s a solid script and a respectful treatment of the Holmes mythos by Goonies writer Chris Columbus, a then-twentysomething who went to direct two and produce three Harry Potter movies. And Nicholas Rowe (Holmes), Alan Cox (Watson) and Sophie Ward (Holmes’ love interest, Elizabeth Hardy) bring equal doses of fun and homage to their roles.
This was also the first movie I remember which had a crucial post-credits bonus scene.
What most people — especially geeks, I think — most likely recall are the special effects, specifically those sequences in which the viewers are treated to disturbing hallucinations involving a resurrected roast chicken, a vicious gargoyle statue, cute-but-menacing pastries, and a bloody-sword-wielding stained-glass knight.
That last one, of course, was a milestone: It was the first fully computer-generated movie character, rendered by John Lasseter, working for what was then part of Lucasfilm’s computer division. A year later, that division was sold and became Pixar.
Given the movie’s strengths, I’ve wondered why it never became more of a classic, although maybe it was just overshadowed by some of 1985’s celebrated favorites like The Goonies, Back to the Future and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.
Content-wise, the movie’s a PG-13 for the aforementioned violent and creepy hallucination bits as well as a spooky and tense cult ritual scene, but I’d say the scare/intensity factor remains well below that of most of the Harry Potter flicks.
If you haven’t watched this one in a while, it’s worth it.