Several weeks ago, my family sat down to watch Netflix's Enola Holmes 2. For those who may not have heard of the Enola Holmes franchise, the films are based on a series of young adult novels by Nancy Springer, which feature a young protagonist named Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Enola's name, as the reader may already suspect, is the word "alone" spelled backwards. In the films, Enola is played by the excellent British actress, Millie Bobby Brown, who became famous due to her role as Eleven in the very popular Netflix series, Stranger Things. We had all watched the first Enola Holmes film, and we had all thoroughly enjoyed it, so our expectations for the second film were quite high. I am pleased to report that our expectations were absolutely met!
First of all, Millie Bobby Brown continues to be a delight in her role as the title character. She's an intelligent, feisty young woman, with deductive capabilities that rival those of her big brother, Sherlock (played in the films by British actor Henry Cavill). One fun little convention in the films is Enola's penchant for "breaking the fourth wall" and addressing the camera (and thus, the viewer) directly from time to time. As the father of two daughters, both of whom are loving this series of films, I am especially pleased to see a young female character being portrayed as strong and intelligent. Enola displays those qualities in spades.
Although the films tend to play a bit fast and loose with the historical period surrounding the plot, I don't think they are much different from Arthur Conan Doyle's stories in that respect. Viewers will almost certainly be aware of more multiculturalism (particularly in the casting), but from my point of view, this enhances the world of the film, even if it's not strictly historically accurate. One prominent plot thread in Enola Holmes 2 deals with feminism and union organization among workers in a match factory, which I'm fairly certain was more or less unknown during the Victorian period. (However, if anyone knows of any feminist or unionist movements in the period of which I'm unaware, I'd love to hear from you!)
I should say a word about Henry Cavill's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. If you watch the films, you will see a Holmes who is supposed to be a bit younger than he is when Conan Doyle introduces him in A Study in Scarlet. Thus, Cavill plays Holmes as a bit more "human" than we often see him in other adaptations. He is not overly emotional, but he is also not quite the calculating deductive machine who is often presented. Moreover, keeping in mind that Enola is the main character, and Sherlock is a supporting role, I found Cavill's portrayal to be quite effective. Some Sherlockian "purists" may find the revision of Sherlock's back story disappointing, especially at the end of this film (which I will not spoil here). I found it entertaining.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the performance of Helena Bonham Carter as Eudoria Holmes, mother to Sherlock and Enola (Mycroft does not appear in this film, although he did appear in the first one, as a rather unpleasant character). As in the first film, she turned in what I found to be a wonderful performance. I had read shortly after the first film came out that some significantly more conservative viewers were outraged by Eudoria Holmes shirking what they saw as her duties and responsibilities as a mother. (One Roman Catholic priest apparently found the first Enola Holmes film to be one of the most "evil" films he'd seen.) I, personally, do not share that outrage. Indeed, Eudoria Holmes's strengths (and weaknesses) as a mother contribute to her progeny's unique talents in the deductive arena.
Finally, as the second Enola Holmes film did not have to concern itself with quite as much exposition as the first film did, I feel like the main plot, and the mystery contained therein, was a bit better than the first film. Indeed, when the film was over, we all felt that we had enjoyed this installment even more than its predecessor! I would certainly recommend the movie to all fans of Sherlock Holmes, as well as anyone who enjoys a good, entertaining action/mystery story.
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN, and a longtime fan of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.