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Millie Bobbie Brown & Henry Cavill Can’t Recapture The Delightful Spark Of The Original

Jan 13, 2023

It’s hard to say how much “Enola Holmes,” the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes story adapted from the YA fiction series of the same name by Nancy Springer, penetrated into the pop culture space. Sure, “Stranger Things” star Millie Bobbie Brown led the movie, and Netflix gave it a sequel and called it a hit, but don’t they do that with everything?
But the reality is, in case you missed it, and it feels like some more cynical audiences thought it might not be for them, “Enola Holmes” was absolutely delightful. Directed by Harry Bradbeer, known for his work on the crisp and sharp “Fleabag” and “Killing Eve”—both of which the talented and charismatic Phoebe Waller-Bridge wrote on, creating the former—one could have easily mistaken “Enola Holmes” coming from the Phoebe Waller-Bridge factory and school of writing. That writing features a snap, crackle, pop, and enthusiasm, and the dynamic direction and enchanting performances matched it. So, credit to Jack Thorne (“The Scouting Book for Boys,” one of the drafts of “Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker”), who nailed the delicious effervescence of those spritely rhythms, adding a lovely theme of young, female empowerment that felt, organic, earned and honest, not to mention a paean to the aspirational single mothers that raised daughters to the tyranny of social bullshit. “Enola Holmes” may have been your tween daughter’s favorite movie. Still, it was actually also just terrific, beguiling, and even moving, thanks in part to an outstanding score by ace composer Daniel Pemberton.
READ MORE: ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Trailer: Millie Bobby Brown Is A Detective-For-Hire & On The Case In Sequel
For “Enola Holmes 2,” all the successful elements, creators, and collaborators of the first film return: Brown as Enola Holmes, Henry Cavill as her brother Sherlock Holmes, Helena Bonham Carter as her suffragette mother Eudoria Holmes, the same director, writer, composer, even cinematographer Giles Nuttgens, returns. But despite the A-list team all returning for the sequel, the frisson is gone, and “Enola Holmes 2” feels much more elementary, primary, and uninspired.
Much of the magical spark of the original is gone in a sequel that feels bloated, overstuffed, and even draining in its sprawling narrative (even though it’s actually only six minutes longer than the original, clocking on at just 129 minutes).
In the natural evolution of the sequel, Enola, having solved a great mystery on her own in the first film, becomes something of a local hero or curiosity; given the fame of her older brother, Enola opens a shop at her own detective agency. But rather than receiving a flood of new clients, she received a torrent of confused clientele who confused her ad in the papers as being part of Sherlock Holmes’ operation and being aghast that a young girl could possibly solve any crimes—a nice first stumbling block for the character given the hopeful, optimistic, possibly naïve note she began on.
Eventually, she gets embroiled in a conspiracy involving Match Stick girls, their deaths, and those who profit and exploit and don’t care about the girls. This story involves characters from the first film, Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), Enola Holmes’ maybe bf one day, and the wannabe Holmes detective Lestrade (Adeel Akhtar), but also Match Stick girls like Serrana Su-Ling Bliss, Abbie Hern, Hannah Dodd and also Sharon Duncan-Brewster in a mysterious role.
Eventually, the obvious becomes apparent. To solve the mystery of a missing Match Stick girl, Enola will have to set aside her pride and receive some help from friends — and brother Sherlock.
Another new character is the villainous Police Inspector (David Thewlis), clearly in the pocket of whoever is driving this greater mystery. “Enola Holmes” has always had a penchant for one male character who is despicable, sexist, a pig, and constantly bristling against the feminist aims of Enola and the story. In the first film, that was Mycroft Holmes (Sam Claflin), the oldest of the Holmes siblings; a government employee, Enola’s then-legal guardian, and just a constant asshole.
Thewlis takes that role and notches it up to 11 and then some, a contemptible figure, who actually gets extremely violent with Holmes to the point where it doesn’t feel movie-appropriate. We all adore a villain we love to hate, but Thewlis goes overboard, creating an execrable, cretinous, repulsive figure that you want to reach through the screen and violently hurt for all his manipulatively awful ways.
It also should be said that both Brown and Cavill are terrific in these roles, Brown uber charismatic and Cavill fitting into the solemn, probing, introspective character like a glove. But as great as they are to watch, especially playing off each other, they cannot save the routines of the film that not only lacks spark but offers few surprises or the delicious joys of the original film.
In the end, the conspiracy unravels and crescendos in a big symphonic scene of fisticuffs and derdoing; Holmes against Thewlis’ Inspector, Holmes talking on some thugs, and Tewkesbury doing his best to defend Holmes’ honor using his bloody face as a shield. Perhaps this scene is “Enola Holmes 2” in a nutshell, a little exciting at first, but then goes on for at least five minutes too long, killing the thrill of suspense and then tacks on a 15-minute expository scene on top of it all, spelling things out, revealing who Moriarty is (Holmes’ arch nemesis) and essentially zapping all of the air out of the room in the process.
Spoiler alert, “Enola Holmes 2” even tees up another sequel and the introduction of Doctor Watson, Sherlock’s detective bff, but next time, as its laying out clues, signs, hints, and more, it may want to keep its eye on the prize of its current mystery. [C]

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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