When I first heard that Guy Ritchie was directing a Sherlock Holmes film, my eyebrow arched uncontrollably toward my hairline, where it remained, awkwardly, until I was exposed to the trailer for the first time. Though I can't say I was very surprised by Ritchie's tits-n-guns approach to the great detective, I do wonder if I have any right to be disappointed.
When J.J. Abrams's reboot of Star Trek hit theatres earlier this month, I openly praised it for “unburdening itself of decades of continuity,” while still keeping enough of the universe intact to be recognizable to fans. This is, after all, exactly what a reboot should do — a fictional universe becomes inert the second there's nothing left to be added or subtracted, so the shedding of elements is necessary for any reinterpretation. Still, these narratives are larger than the individual films created from them. They're cultural institutions beloved by millions, and that does, I think, make their ownership communal on some level.
So does it come down to the simple fact that my attachment to Sherlock as a cultural artifact is much stronger than my attachment to Kirk? Well, yeah, actually. There can be a measure of what a “good” or “bad” reinterpretation is, but the result will ultimately rest on some vague, generally conceded notion of what a particular world is or isn't. In my view, a stick-fighting, window-diving Sherlock is one of the most aggressive misreads of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's stories possible, though, as a recent letter regarding my Star Trek review kindly illustrated, opinions like this are governed entirely by interest.
There are many more questions zipping about my skull — far too many for the confines of this small column. So what do you think, dearest Fast Forward readers? To what extent should reboots be beholden to their source material?