There are two seasons where you can usually count on seeing a good movie or two – the Summer blockbusters and the Christmas blockbusters. This Christmas season has provided me with two good movie outings. Both of them made me skeptical at first, but in the end, both delivered solid entertainment.

First up was Avatar – the nearly HALF A BILLION DOLLAR blockbuster by James Cameron. Visually, this film was amazing. This is another notch in Cameron’s bankability belt – when his name is on it – you’re looking at a hit. Even lame films like the last Terminator do well – because Cameron is associated with it. (Interestingly, Sam Worthington – who played the lead, Jake Sully was also in the last Terminator and will be in the remake of Clash of the Titans, he has action hero star written all over him.)

This film really had little to do with Cameron or Worthington… it was all about the CGI and in that respect, it ROCKED! Sure, the storyline was weak and a very transparent political/social commentary. Sure, the characters were as stereotypical as anything to come out of Hollywood. But visually, Avatar made you overlook all the flaws.

It was slow in the opening third of the film and predictable throughout, but you just couldn’t take your eyes off the screen. I would watch it again just for the visuals.

RATING 7 out of 10


Next was Guy Ritchie‘s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. Now you have to understand that there is likely no more important fictional character in my life than Sherlock Holmes. I have always loved Holmes, and I have seen every single incarnation available. For that reason, I was extremely nervous seeing the previews for this film as it looked to be nothing like the legend created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Downey was nothing like the Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett Holmes (my favorite) but not nearly as quirky as the trailers made it appear.

Yeah, he did a serviceable interpretation, but in the end, there was too much Robert Downey Jr. in the character. He was no different than he was in Iron Man – no different than he was in The Pickup Artist – no different than he has been in ALL of his roles. Face it – Downey has no range. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of RDJ and I think he may have a role that he could continue for years in Holmes. This is a great character for him to play because Holmes is so cocksure, smart, and witty. The fact that so many older people have played the character successfully leads me to think that he could be doing remakes for a couple more decades without missing a beat. This is one instance when typecasting is a good fit.

Because Holmes has been such an important literary figure in my life, I am sure that I will see each and every incarnation of the famed sleuth of 221B Baker Street, and although I will be skeptical, I will give them a fair shake. Robert Downey Jr. I can get used to – Jude Law as Watson I can get used to – Rachel McAdams as his tough-as-nails female foil, uh, I guess – Guy Ritchie, MTV-generation fight sequences in a period piece like this…. that may be a little tougher.

RATING 8 out of 10