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'Enola 2' is Endless Fun, but Will it Enrage the Holmes Purists?

"Stay unemotional."

As a life-long Holmes fan, I grant Enola Holmes 2 my biggest seal of approval.

I'm a Holmes nut. To the core.

How much do I love the World's Greatest Detective? I'm visiting London next year and all I can think about is finding Sherlock Holmes spots. Watching Enola Holmes 2, I immediately recognized the corny old song, "Where Did You Get That Hat?" from its appearance in the 1988 movie, Without a Clue. (Another brilliant Holmes adaptation.) I don't know if that's a coincidence on the producers' part or a clever reference, but it made me happy.

(Side note: please watch Without a Clue. It stars Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley, and it's about an alternate situation where Watson is the genius and Holmes is just a dumb actor playing the role. When Watson is kidnapped, Holmes has to try and solve the case on his own. Hilarity ensues.

Watch it!)

I promise, I try not to be judgmental about other people's movie and TV choices...but...I am.

I'm downright snobby about which Holmes adaptations I'll allow. I won't get started on which versions I think should be set on fire, that wouldn't be very nice, but I'll gladly tell you that Enola Holmes firmly belongs on the good list.

For starters, these movies are fun. That's not something I expect from Netflix. They had a show called The Irregulars (about the poor children who work with Holmes) and it barely made a splash. I tried to watch, but it was too dour. Too dreary. Like almost everything Netflix has made. Enola Holmes is a diamond in the rough.

Second, Brown is, obviously, one of the finest actors we've ever seen on screen. She makes it look easy, but carrying a movie by talking into the camera (or tossing hilarious facial expressions at the audience) is something few actors can do with such effectiveness. This may look like a kids' movie, but she's giving a powerhouse performance. And the romance is written and played to absolute perfection.

Also, the movie's got a great story ripped from the Victorian headlines about the 1888 Matchstick Strike. The writers did a perfect job weaving this real-life event into Enola's crime-solving adventure. (Sometimes these ideas sound good in the writing room but come across like a preachy after-school special. This one works beautifully.)

Furthermore, the acting is dynamite across the board. Helena Bonham Carter blows up the screen even more than the bombs her character throws at the patriarchy. And while David Thewlis isn't a household name, his face is familiar to most audiences and his part is played to his usual perfection.

(And if you just want to watch Henry Cavill, trust me, you've come to the right place.)

But while I don't have an ounce of criticism, I promise you that Enola Holmes 2 is going to take heat for making big changes to the Holmes canon. One in particular. (Don't worry; I won't spoil it.)

Of course, they started making additions in the first movie, but those were merely filling in holes from the original stories. Holmes's personal and family life is practically a blank canvas since Arthur Conan Doyle never elaborated on those parts, and now that Holmes is a public domain character writers are free to fill in those spaces with whatever they want.

As a self-admitted Holmes snob, I'm fine with that. Especially when it's the sort of speculation that lets us follow our beloved characters in new ways that fit in nicely with the original stories. The first film is a perfect example of this.

But the sequel has made a radical change, and, trust me, some fans are not going to be happy.

Unlike the first movie, Enola Holmes 2 has gone in a direction that is simply incompatible with the original tales. The two cannot be reconciled and must be seen as completely separate entities.

It took me a brow-furrowing moment to get used to this. Throughout the film, my mind was constantly drawing connections to the original stories, but as the plot was fully revealed I was forced to erase those lines and reconsider all of it.

In the hands of an amateur storyteller, these adjustments would land like a brick in the face. Fortunately, the production team behind Enola Holmes is very good at what they do.

Enola needs her own problems to solve and her own world to live in. Her own villains. With its changes, Enola Holmes 2 declares that it's taking place in its own world, apart from the one I grew up reading.

Once my brow unfurrowed, I realized this was a good thing. The film was celebrating every wonderful aspect of Holmes without hurting my precious canon.

And, frankly, Cavill might be the best on-screen Holmes we've seen. As a huge fan of Jeremy Brett (who, as you know, played Sherlock on BBC in the 70s) that's pretty hard for me to admit. But it's just one more reminder that Enola Holmes is injecting new and wonderful life into the World's Greatest Detective.

Final Analysis: Flawless, smart, and fun. 5 out of 5 feminist smoke bombs.
Adam D. Jones is a writer, musician, medievalist and cat dad.


  1. I finally just finished the first Enola Holmes after starting it a few times and not getting past the introduction. I'm very glad I did, I found it delightful and yes Millie Bobby Brown is wonderful. Her timing and likeability is just off the charts, and the film brought some much brightness and joy to the franchise.

    I am not a huge fan of Henry Cavill, but I'll agree I like his Holmes (more than his Superman or Witcher tbh). I'm not sure if I would say he is better than Brett, who for me is still THE Sherlock Holmes, but Cavill does some things in the first film that I liked a lot.

    I'm looking forward to watching the sequel, and I'm so glad to hear that it is as good or maybe better.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I'm feeling traitorous for my Brett comment. Jeremy Brett is astounding not only for his perfect portrayal, but because he looks like he magically stepped out of a Syndey Paget drawing. (Also, thanks for letting me know I'm not the only person left alive in the Jeremy Brett fan club.)

  3. My Aunt was deeply into mysteries and absolutely loved the Brett series. I watched most of the first series with her and then tracked down the rest of them later on. It has been years since I've seen them, but I remember him capturing the role so well that he comes to mind when I think of Holmes.


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