Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Stain-glass knight, fun origin story

A bit slow paced at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Young Sherlock Holmes

Studio:  Amblin Entertainment

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Action/Adventure/Family

Release Date(s):  December 4, 1985

MPAA Rating:  PG-13


Watson, next I’m thinking opium…how about it?

John Watson (Alan Cox) is starting school has been assigned a new roommate. His name is Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) and he has a way about him that infuriates some and intrigues others like Watson. Sherlock introduces Watson to a girl named Elizabeth Hardy (Sophie Ward) who lives at the school and together they find themselves embroiled in a mystery that involves a poison that forces victims to see insane hallucinations. Sherlock, Watson, and Elizabeth find their mentor and Elizabeth’s uncle Rupert Waxflatter (Nigel Stock) dead from the poison, Sherlock vows to uncover the truth about a secret cult in the center of London.

Directed by Barry Levinson, Young Sherlock Holmes was produced by Steven Spielberg and has a lot of Spielbergian touches. The movie was also called Young Sherlock Holmes and Pyramid of Fear which indicates that it was planned for more sequels. The movie was relatively well received and nominated for an Oscar for its visual effects.


Yep, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse invades Young Sherlock Holmes

The movie takes the idea of Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s younger years which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle doesn’t really cover. It shows how the characters met and how their friendship and relationships developed. Much like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the movie makes lots of winks & nods to Sherlock’s future by introducing his violin playing, his coat, hat, and pipe from the classic look of Sherlock. In an interesting twist at the end, the movie also actually puts up a slate explaining this…I don’t know if they didn’t feel they could market it as a true Sherlock Holmes adventure or if there was possibly a clause with the owners of the Sherlock Holmes stories in which they were forced to show it.

The movie unfortunately is a bit dull. It is a kids adventure movie and there is a lot of action, but there are a number of dull parts toward the beginning. if the viewers can hold on, there is a lot of swordplay and action to carry the film past the establishing of the characters and story. It is fun if you let yourself enjoy it, but I don’t know if it works as an introduction to the character when there are other better Sherlock’s out there today.


It was dangerous until someone threw a rock at it

What does work in Young Sherlock Holmes are some impressive special effects. The movie keeps having characters go into nightmarish visions when hit by the chemical. there are a number of claymation characters that are so-so (the little demons and the attack of the killer pastries are fun) What is really amazing is an early work of computer animation in the stain-glass knight. I thought when I saw it recently that it wouldn’t hold up, but it surprising did.

Young Sherlock Holmes has its ups and downs but overall it is a fun movie. The characters do a nice job bring an “exciting” Sherlock Holmes adventure to the screen and it is a shame that there wasn’t a sequel. For younger viewers it might move too slow but for Sherlock fans it is a must.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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