Enola Holmes First Reviews: Millie Bobby Brown Shines Bright As a New Franchise Is Born

Early reviews say Netflix's adaptation of Nancy Springer's books is a snappy, fun, and family-friendly adventure that's equal parts Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Guy Ritchie. (And yes, Henry Cavill is great as Sherlock.)

by | September 8, 2020 | Comments

Enola Holmes

(Photo by © Netflix)

Even if you’re tired of more than a century’s worth of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, Netflix’s Enola Holmes is worth watching, according to the first reviews, with most of the early praise focused on its star, Stranger Things breakout Millie Bobby Brown. Based on a series of young adult books, the movie follows the mystery of the Holmes’ missing mother (Helena Bonham Carter) but pushes the more famous sleuth (Henry Cavill) and other brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) to the side. While the case at hand might not be a strong one, the streaming feature appears to be entertaining enough to show promise for an ensuing family-friendly franchise.

Here’s what critics are saying about Enola Holmes:

So, Millie Bobby Brown is an absolute star, right?

“Millie Bobby Brown is terrific as Enola, charismatic and endearing…and she shows a deft hand with comedy.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“Enola’s emotions are telegraphed plainly in exaggerated body language and expressions, making Brown’s performance feel better suited for the stage.” – Ella Kemp, Empire Magazine

“You can tell that Brown is having an absolute blast with the role.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

Enola Holmes makes a fine showcase for Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, who gets to drop the layers of anxiety and trauma that make that show’s El such a compelling character.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“Her performance may be incongruous with the era, but that’s hardly a bad thing. Brown’s acting style recalls the effusive spontaneity Keira Knightley brought to Pride and Prejudice.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

How’s her supporting cast?

“Helena Bonham Carter is perfect as the mother of the whole clan.” – Rachel Wagner,

“Clafin is enjoyably awful as contemptuous cold fish Mycroft.” – Sarah Cartland, Caution Spoilers

“Cavill and Claflin should be given their own spin-off series.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Cavill as Sherlock showcases a side of the character that we have truly never seen before…the way Cavill brings it to life is beautiful.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“Cavill still threatens to steal the show as probably the sexiest sleuth ever to grace the screen, complete with Superman curl and oodles of charm.” – Tom Beasley, Flickering Myth

“Sadly, the supporting cast is underused or nothing to write home about. Cavill makes for a dull and unremarkable Sherlock Holmes” – Lewis Knight, Daily Mirror

Enola Holmes

(Photo by Alex Bailey, © Netflix)

Will the movie please Sherlock Holmes diehards?

“Enola exemplifies why people love Doyle’s work. She solves puzzles, deduces answers to situations, but more importantly, she is arrogant in a tenacious way that she backs up with knowledge.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“Enola is just as likely to use her wits, and that combination connects her most closely to the Sherlock Holmes played by Robert Downey Jr. in Guy Ritchie’s movies.” – Josh Bell, CBR

“Enola Holmes remains tamer and more tasteful in its high-energy storytelling than Guy Ritchie’s recent Sherlock Holmes movies.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

How about fans of the Enola Holmes books?

“It seamlessly translates to the screen, and shows just how inspired Springer’s idea really was.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“For those who’ve read the books, be prepared for a few changes…portions of the six-book series are utilized here to create Enola Holmes, yet no singular choice seems to in anyway inhibit future stories, should they be called upon.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

How is the mystery at the center of the film?

“The plot is clever without being too clever, with deliberately laid trails of misinformation.” – Sarah Cartland, Caution Spoilers

“The actual case wasn’t very interesting…the mystery involving her missing mother didn’t really do it for me.” – Rachel Wagner,

“What’s missing is the simple satisfaction of solving a case…screenwriter Jack Thorne never gives us that Holmesian pleasure of putting all the pieces together to explicate the mystery.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“There’s politics involved with his mystery, yet it feels like the more interesting story is Enola’s mother and her connection to the suffrage movement, which is only hinted at.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Is there any action in this Holmes tale?

“Bradbeer stages some impressive and exciting action sequences.” – Josh Bell, CBR

“Bradbeer captures the spectacle of action coherently with verve and zest…he and editor Adam Bosman establish a snappy, energetic rhythm with the comedy timing as well.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Bradbeer and editor Adam Bosman maintain a jaunty pace throughout, propelled by DP Giles Nuttgens’ dynamic camera, whose CG-embellished widescreen compositions subvert the stuffy Merchant Ivory-esque locations with a Kingsman-esque pop energy.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“There’s impressive choreography as Enola shows her fight training in some lively action scenes, but few feel instrumental to the storyline.” – Ella Kemp, Empire Magazine

Enola Holmes

(Photo by © Legendary)

What about the romance between Enola and Lord Tewkesbury?

“Their dynamic is so sweet, and yet the film wisely doesn’t make it the centerpiece of Enola’s journey.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“There’s little chemistry between Enola and Tewkesbury and it’s telling that the movie is more entertaining when it’s just Enola on screen.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“Mounting narrative momentum gets stuck any time the brewing, swoony teen romance comes into play…belabored interactions between the couple drag it down rather than add emotional impact.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“There are hints of a romance that feels forced, and given the male creative team behind the adaptation, the romantic plot points don’t flow with the rest of the story — the rest of her story.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

Who is the target audience?

“It never forgets that it’s inspired by a series designed for the younger set, but…Enola Holmes reveals itself to be genuinely appealing for a wide audience.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Even if the entirety is a Sherlock tale for young adults [it doesn’t] belittle or patronize its target audience. In so doing, Enola Holmes ends up being fun for anyone who is open to it.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

“[It’s] a captivating mystery yarn worthy of its protagonist’s surname while being family friendly enough that parents won’t have to worry about anything too dark scaring their young ones.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“The movie gets too violent towards the end to be an ideal family film…which is a bummer because most of the movie is appropriate for all ages.”- Rachel Wagner,

Enola Holmes

(Photo by © Netflix)

Does it play like Fleabag for kids?

Enola Holmes is as if Nancy Drew was redone in the irreverent style of Fleabag and set in the Sherlock Holmesuniverse.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Some of Enola’s brief, knowing glances to the audience look very much like the expressions that Waller-Bridge would use on that show. But Enola is entirely wholesome.” – Josh Bell, CBR

“Fans of Fleabag will recognize the fourth-wall breaking, itself not a new concept, but one which felt revolutionary within the context of the television show, and it feels the same here.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

“The constant demolition of the fourth wall is evidently a nod to Bradbeer’s Fleabag work, but quickly becomes exhausting in this movie.” – Tom Beasley, Flickering Myth

So does it have a strong feminist message, too?

Enola Holmes doesn’t just use its heroine as a cute way to nod at progressive thinking; it fully embraces a story that is, at its heart, deeply feminist.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Enola Holmes offers a different kind of feminism from [Fleabag], based less in accepting women with all their flaws than in the conviction that men have bossed around long enough.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“While a lot of the ‘girl power’ commentary is hamfisted, it’s not something that I rolled my eyes at like I did in Captain Marvel.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“Jack Thorne’s script rarely misses the chance to drive a moral point home with one more pound to the head of the nail.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“it might need more refined teachings on feminism next time.” – Ella Kemp, Empire Magazine

Enola Holmes

(Photo by Robert Viglaski)

Can we look forward to more Enola Holmes?

Enola Holmes is every bit the franchise starter that it needs to be.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“[It] does the job of making you want to see where those future movies could go, even if the mystery chosen for the first outing is both overstuffed and not that interesting.” – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

“Whether Enola Holmes is the start of a Netflix franchise or it’s a one-off, what Thorne and Bradbeer is incredibly delightful and, ultimately satisfying.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

“If this is the beginning of a franchise, then Brown has chosen an excellent vehicle for herself, and I can’t wait to see the young Ms. Holmes solve more mysteries.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“Hopefully, Enola Holmes is just the first in a series of films led by Millie Bobby Brown. With how this story ends, I hope we see more of Enola soon.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

Enola Holmes is available to stream on Netflix from September 23, 2020. 

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