This was one that intrigued me a little from the get-go. I was never very excited for it, but my curiosity was bound to eventually get the better of me. As a kid, I wasn't super heavy into young detective stories like 'The Hardy Boys', but a lot of what I read still had some mystery to it. When this popped up, I thought it might be a fun trip back to the days of reading some of those young teen-level stories - especially since it didn't look all cheesed up with effects or trying to be too modern. This was something that looked pretty legit, and upon finally seeing it, I'm pretty happy to say that I got pretty much what I wanted out of it.
Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) is an independent thinking young woman who goes against the social norms of the time, and has a parallel intelligence to her uncle, the famous Sherlock Holmes (Henry Cavill). Her name, "Alone" spelled backwards, is thanks to her insistent mother, Eudoria's (Helena Bonham Carter) passion for word games. Furthering the idea of the name, her independence is derived from her mothers teachings, as she has gone through her youth learning things like Ju-Jitsu for self defense, Chess for strategic intellect, and archery, which is sadly not used as often as I'd like to have seen. As mother and daughter, they have always been very close. On Enola's 16th birthday, however, Eudoria goes missing, leaving behind a few birthday gifts.
A week after her mother goes missing, matters get more complicated for Enola. She suddenly finds herself under the care of her strict and stern uncle Mycroft (Sam Claflin), who arrives by train with Sherlock, and intends on sending her to a finishing school to make her into a "proper" woman. Enola has other plans, however, and manages to follow clues left behind by her mother in order to escape to London and search for her. Enter a young runaway Lord named Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge), and Enola ends up on a sidetracked path trying to help the young man, using her own detective skills.
I see this as being along the lines of a youth-friendly detective story, much like 'Harriet the Spy' or a 'Nancy Drew' mystery. We follow a young, female detective on her journey, there's mystery and intrigue along the way, and its target audience is young women in their early to mid teens. For such an audience, I'll put my cards on the table and admit that I see potential in this being an inspiring story in all the right ways. Being a 38-year-old guy, it's not necessarily aimed at me, but I can say that if I had an impressionable daughter, this is one of those movies I'd love to be one of her favorites. They cover a lot of what it meant to be a young woman in the late 1800s, and it does so with a certain sense of humor. Add to that her independence and the idea that she's as capable as her famous uncle, and it all comes out positive.
I admit that there does seem to be something of a love-interest situation going on between Enola and Tewkesbury, but I'm happy to say that it's mostly hints and not at all in your face. Think about how it worked in 'Wonder Woman' or 'Captain America', and it's quite similar. Whatever is there is more of an afterthought than the story we're following. All in all, I got what the movie was doing and who it was generally for, but I'm happy to say that I still managed to have a bit of fun with it. Despite the idea that I'm not its target audience, it is cool to see Millie Bobby Brown really act here. Child actors develop their skills over time, so with 'Stranger Things' and 'Godzilla', she was still an up-and-comer. I feel like she broke out with this one, however, and I predict very positive things for her down the line.
So, I think that if you're someone who has a daughter at a fairly impressionable age, I might highly recommend sitting down and checking this out with her. There are plenty of positive messages throughout, and the film does what it sets out to do. I simply can't deny that this is a positive film in many ways, even if it does get a little heavy on the boy-bashing (which is something I'm personally super nit-picky about anyway, so it's likely exaggerated in my mind). Just know that you're absolutely not watching this to see Sherlock Holmes in action - he's really more of a cameo, and a cool way to connect Enola in the sense that the story is about how she can do what he can do, maybe even better, if only give the chance. It's a Netflix original, so if you're a subscriber, head on over and check it out for yourself.