Hey! Hallie here!
The first ‘Enola Holmes’ wasn’t something we covered on this blog, but it was extremely good. I was honestly expecting something a bit cheesy when the first trailers were released, but it came across as fun and witty instead. Millie Bobby Brown really shines in the role of Enola, especially if you’re only used to watching her play Eleven in ‘Stranger Things’. She’s sharp, confident, and extremely charismatic as the lead in these films. And on top of that, Henry Cavill is Sherlock Holmes. Henry Cavill obviously makes most things better. Because the first movie was so good, I was a little worried about the second one. Good sequels are hard to come by, especially where Netflix is concerned. But ‘Enola Holmes 2’ received a lot of love the day it came out which very quickly shot my expectations from low to high. After watching it I’ll say that ‘Enola Holmes 2’ isn’t perfect, but it did ultimately live up to my expectations. Let’s get into what I liked and disliked about this sequel! SPOILERS AHEAD!
What I Liked:
Enola and Sherlock: One of the main pieces of this film that was heavily advertised was the brother/sister team up of Enola and Sherlock. They didn’t get as much time in the first one to interact as some would have liked, mainly because Enola was actively trying to avoid her brothers in her attempt to figure out where her mother was, so this was an element many people were looking forward to. Fortunately, this relationship was utilized perfectly. Sherlock has plenty of screen time, coming in pretty early in the movie and helping Enola through a good portion of her investigation. But he never overshadows her. He’s working on his own case for much of the movie, putting him on a different path than Enola. His case does wind up connecting to Enola’s, but there’s a fair amount of time beforehand for Enola to figure some things out on her own. I liked this both because Henry Cavill’s Sherlock tends to be a scene stealer which doesn’t always benefit Enola, and because it was necessary to show Enola’s capabilities both with and without her brother. Though Sherlock is definitely more skilled at deduction than Enola, Enola utilizes deception and undercover work, which works to make her come across as his equal. I also really loved the sibling relationship between these two. Sherlock’s clear anger after he isn’t able to arrange Enola’s release from prison was sweet, as was his care for her in the final battle. Similarly, Enola’s trust in him to protect her when Lestrade comes looking for her was heartwarming, as was her arrangement for Sherlock to meet Watson. They make looking out for one another a priority in ways that feel natural to their characters. I can’t wait to see these two interact more in the future!
Feminism: A huge point of the ‘Enola Holmes’ films is the emphasis on the strength of women, whether that be shown through Enola herself or the other women in Enola’s life. This movie continues on with that theming. We get more of Enola demonstrating her fighting capabilities as well as her abilities to outsmart her adversaries. We even get to see her teach Tewkesbury how to fight. Eudoria Holmes, Enola’s mother, is still shown fighting as a suffragette which is displayed as a major part of her character. Edith, an amazing character introduced in the first movie, is directly contacted by Sherlock to save Enola because of her physical capabilities. She then recruits Eudoria to help her break Enola out of prison in a venture that is not only successful, but involves the three women fending off the main villains first in a dramatic chase scene, and then in hand-to-hand combat. And the entire story of this film is focused on a real life work of feminism. In the movie, Enola’s investigation surrounds the disappearance of a red-headed girl named Sarah Chapman. Sarah Chapman was a real historical figure who staged the first walk out for better wages and conditions in a factory that hired girls to package unsafe matches. And though the real life Sarah Chapman was a little less daring than this Sarah, I think it suits the story to have Enola chasing another woman who is just as insanely intelligent and capable as she is. All of the female characters in this are badass and I adore it.
Moriarty: Speaking of badass women, let’s talk about the huge reveal at the end of the film. Throughout ‘Enola Holmes 2’ Sherlock is investigating a case that he knows he’s being led along by a new adversary, Moriarty. It’s really exciting to see Moriarty finally being brought up in the ‘Enola Holmes’ universe, but I at first worried that this would mean our main perpetrator would be an outside party, effectively eliminating the stakes. But that’s not what happened. Instead Mira Troy, a Black woman who was unappreciated by her devious employers, wound up revealing herself to be Moriarty. Not only does this play perfectly into the focus on strong women, but this reveal gives Moriarty more layers. As a Black woman, she knows better than anyone what it’s like to be ignored and underestimated. She goes as far as to express particular anger over this point to the main cast because of the way her extreme intelligence is overlooked. But that makes it easy for her to work in the shadows and much harder for her to be caught by Sherlock. It also gives her a very valid reason to shun society and seek out something more nefarious. Especially after the conversation Sherlock had with Edith in the first ‘Enola Holmes’, it’s smart to see him placed against a woman like Moriarty who experiences absolutely none of the privilege that he does. It’ll be exciting to see how they clash.
Tewkesbury: He’s not as major of a role here as he was in the last movie by any means, but his appearances are nice. I liked the scene where he taught Enola how to dance about as much as I liked Enola teaching him how to fight. His appearance at the ball otherwise wasn’t the most plot relevant, but it was still cute to see how head over heels he still is for Enola. My favorite usage of Tewkesbury occurred at the end of the film, where he finally has the courage to get his hands dirty and participate in hand-to-hand combat. Him doing so specifically for Enola was especially lovely. He’s a very good love interest, serving as the Watson to Enola’s Sherlock with just the right amount of puppy dog devotion to be adorable without feeling obnoxious. And much like Sherlock, he doesn’t overstay his welcome. Which is nice because he isn’t all that relevant to this investigation. Overall, Tewkesbury is in just the right amount of the movie to feel charming and not unnecessary.
What I Disliked:
Enola’s Character Growth: This is my only gripe with the film but it’s a pretty big gripe. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that Enola’s lesson here was to be unafraid to make real connections and to ask for help from the people who she’s made connections with. But the execution was so sloppy. At the beginning of the film Enola feels so much less competent than she was in the first film. Her deductions, when she first is hired to investigate the disappearance of Sarah Chapman, are obvious and not at all impressive. She then remains completely oblivious to getting followed on two separate occasions, and falls into a trap Sherlock is knowledgable of because of his superior deductions. Then she walks into a ball undercover after having done no preparation whatsoever. It feels like Enola is uncharacteristically fumbling through even the simplest of tasks early in the film. Of course, this is all meant to lead up to her mother suggesting that she may need the help of other people who have skills she doesn’t. After Enola accepts that she needs help, she becomes regular Enola again. When she returns to the room she was first in, her deductions are inexplicably much better. When she goes to investigate various locations with Sherlock, they’re able to bounce off of one another rather than Sherlock coming up with all the right answers himself. I understood what they were going for with the development of Enola, but they needed to demonstrate that Enola’s skills weren’t enough in some situations rather than lessening her skills in all situations.
And those were my thoughts on ‘Enola Holmes 2’! Though I wasn’t a fan of the way Enola’s character arc played out, I don’t feel the character lost any of her likability. And clearly, the things I enjoyed about this movie far outweigh the things I disliked. With the amazing setup of Watson in the very last scene, I can’t wait for the third. And the third is already being planned as I write this! ‘Enola Holmes’ has been a surprisingly masterful venture amongst a sea of Netflix’s recent failures. I think it’s wise that they keep something this entertaining going.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!