At this point, prequels are pretty well played out. They’re frustrating to begin with, since by their very nature they tell backstories instead of stories, and after being inundated with Hollywood prequels for several years in the late 2000s and early ’10s, whatever appetite audiences had for them is long gone. So maybe the future is in postquels; movies set long after the adventures of heroes we know. If so, Mr. Holmes could be the start of a whole new trend.

Would you say such a trend would be elementary? Of course not, that would be a terrible Sherlock Holmes joke.

Ian McKellen stars as the world’s greatest detective at the end of his life. This Holmes is not the man we know from Arthur Conan Doyle stories and Benedict Cumberbatch TV shows. That Holmes, McKellen claims, is a fabrication and embellishment of Dr. Watson. He never wore a deerstalker cap and he prefers cigars to pipes. But he is a detective, and even in his later years he’s still up for a good mystery, one that begins to unravel before him in the film, which is directed by Bill Condon of the final Twilight films, DreamgirlsKinsey, and the superb Hollywood biopic Gods and Monsters, which also starred McKellen and earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Hopefully this collaboration between McKellen and Condon is just as fruitful as the last one; certainly it looks very promising (and, in a way, tonally and thematically similar to Gods and Monsters). Mr. Holmes opens in theaters on July 17, where it might be a refreshing change of pace from the typical summer blockbuster fare.

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