Jacob Martin (formally known as The Movie King)’s review published on Letterboxd:
2020, the year of the 3.5 star streaming films. Not that these films are bad, as a lot of these releases are completely watchable and have a lot of fun moments, but a lot of greatness is lacking in a lot of these movies and very little is added to elevate some of these films to movies that will withstand a lifetime.
Enola Holmes is a movie that had so much potential to be a great movie, a wonderful spin on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, in this case the younger sister of Sherlock who ventures into the world of detective work herself. It's based on a series of modern novels, and is intended to start a franchise, something I'm honestly interested in seeing.
This is a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed for the most part. Millie Bobbie Brown especially as Enola Holmes was inspired casting. It's great seeing this promising young actress continue to get more roles (and more importantly, a leading role) after the success of Stranger Things. This film is constantly energetic, full of constant energy, wit and full of quirky British humor, and some of the action was a lot of fun when it was there. We also got Henry Cavill in the supporting role of older brother Sherlock Holmes and he was a great addition to the movie. I totally bought his charm and stamp to the iconic character and I'm fully sold on the possibility that he could be our next James Bond after watching this movie.
Like with a lot of 2020 releases however, a movie with a great premise falls into just the watchable/average category. So what happened with Enola Holmes? Well, for one, the mystery itself was a bit underwhelming. The main mystery is that Enola's mother disappears, and you'd think the film would be about the daughter finding her, but then the movie grinds to a halt and there's a another mystery where she befriends a young boy on the run and there's mystery surrounding that, his family, and a psycho sent to kill him. The problem with that is, it makes the movie feel unfocused at times and makes the overall storytelling itself a little clunky in the process. And when the movie picks up to the original mystery, that one itself was a little underwhelming and left more questions than answers.
And my other big issue with Enola Holmes is its overall preachiness. Throughout the film, the film constantly hammers its message in the face on girl power (which obviously is a good thing and everyone deserves their place in the sun), but it does so in such a manipulative, cloying way which took me out of the movie in the form of Mycroft Holmes (the other sibling in the Holmes family), who's written to be this horrible, disgusting, misogynistic, cartoonish antagonist who just hates Enola Holmes and her antics, because, well, she's a girl. A great movie like this would have done a message like that by focusing on the strengths and virtues of the lead character, using the actions of the character to tell a more profound statement, movies like Wonder Woman, Cinderella (the live-action remake), and G.I. Jane are brilliant examples of having female leads use actions to make their points stronger. Here, having a cartoonish antagonist and characters breaking the fourth wall to preach the message was incredibly on-the-nose, and I felt manipulated at times.
A shame the movie resorted to cheap tactics to preach its message, because I think if the script was better polished to focus more on the strengths of Enola Holmes, it'd be one of my favorite movies of the mediocre year known as 2020. There's still plenty of fun moments to be had still, especially Millie's performance and its wit and charm throughout, and I still want to see a franchise of films with this character; I just think if you did less preaching and more showing, Enola Holmes would be an excellent film.
But still, it's still an enjoyable but frustrating watch and still worth at least a watch on Netflix.