For the next three or so weeks, since I am stuck in the middle of nowhere, I decided that since I am not a huge Christmas/Holiday buff that I was going to do the best next thing – review movies in theaters now that strike my fancy and fits this column.
Sherlock Holmes, the greatest British literary detective ever, seems to always pop up in our entertainment. If it’s not a new show on the BBC, it’s a Hollywood movie series. Hell, I even remember watching the sci-fi Sherlock Holmes animated series as a kid.
But what makes this character so popular? Why is he used over and over again rather writing some new characters? What do I look like, a philosopher?
This week on Manic Movie Magic, we’re going to take a look at the newly released mystery thriller Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
The film begins with Watson writing a story about Sherlock Holmes, a la Moulin Rouge. In the story itself, it’s the eve before Watson’s wedding, and Sherlock Holmes as been tailing Dr. Moriarty, who he thinks is trying to start a major war in Europe. But enough of that, we have to bring Adler in for all of five minutes to bring in one piece of key evidence and emphasize Moriarty’s evil and it has no effect at all on Holmes past three seconds of “AWWW WHY?”
But no time to focus on that, it’s onto Watson’s bachelor party! We meet Holmes’ brother Mycroft, whose every bit as intelligent and antisocial as Sherlock. Sherlock finds the recipient of said key piece of evidence, which is a letter, which is a gypsy fortuneteller. It becomes very obvious that Moriarty does not want Holmes interfering, and nearly kills him and gypsy that very night. BUT NO TIME TO FOCUS ON THAT! We’ve got a wedding to get to!
After consorting with gypsies, blowing up a train, and finding out the master plan of how Moriarty will start the war, which is something anyone who was paying attention already figured out, they head for the final showdown in a castle of the side of cliff. Though I mean, what’s the point of building castle on a flat surface?
Of course, the trio gets there in time and saves the day, preventing a global war for a few decades more. But that’s apparently not enough for this movie, so rather than make Moriarty the life-long rival like all the other adaptation do, the movie decides it’s gotta to be settled now. Ultimately Holmes defeats Morarity in the most cliche, un-Holmes like way I can imagine, which was a huge dissappointment. Of course, the movie ends happily, though we never do find out what happens to that gypsy, who the movie kept insisting was important, or to the whole Moriarty enterprise.
The best part of this movie was also the best part of the first movie: the intense friendship between Holmes and Watson. In this film, it’s basically the two of them running around, Holmes being less jealous about Watson’s marriage, and Watson finally admitting he is going to miss running around with the crazy genius. Their dialogue is witty, and fun, and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law still have amazing chemistry. It’s the one aspect of the sequel I was certain was going to be there, because it’s a big part of what made the first film so fantastic.
The female character-gypsy, whose name I don’t even remember, is basically useless. I couldn’t honestly tell you why her character was important to the film beyond relaying some basic information in the first half of the movie. She wasn’t anyone’s love interest, she didn’t add anything to the plot, and she had no character development whatsoever. In fact, I forgot she was even in the movie at one point. Honestly, I think they should have made Mrs. Watson a companion on this adventure, she would have been a hell of a lot more interesting!
This is a beautifully shot movie. The slow-motion is used to wonderful effect of seeing the most interesting, minute details of explosions and facial features. I was worried they were going to overuse the extremely popular slow-motion Holmes’ mentally planning out the fight, but thankfully they didn’t. Also, explosions.
While the film looks great, the pacing is off. It feels like there is no connection between the scenes, and it’s difficult to feel particularly intrigued with what’s going on. There’s no time to stop and digest what happened until the very end, and then it’s too little too late. There’s also not much mystery going on; we know whose doing it, how, and why from very early on in the film, which means there’s little room for Sherlock to really shine, save for at the end during a chess scene which seems almost phoned in by the writers. The problem is that while the action scenes are fun, the whole appeal of Sherlock Holmes is that it’s intellectual and cunning, seeing things the audience cannot.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a decent movie if you want to kill time, but it’s nothing I would consider sitting down to watch again. Additionally, since they seem to be setting up a third movie, I hope they manage to learn from their mistakes rather than just going for the easy million or two they can make without really trying.
Stay tuned for next week when I see if I’m going to have to eat my words after viewing the new The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.