Sunday, December 18, 2011

Movie Night: Shelock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Disclaimer #1: I never saw the first movie.

Disclaimer #2: I'm biased by means of being a huge fan of the Grenada TV Holmes adaptations (the ones with Jeremy Brett as Holmes that still play on PBS sometimes).

Disclaimers aside, I was somewhat less than impressed.

It's an okay movie, but it was repeatedly failing to live up to my expectations. Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes as brilliant but comically batshit, with the script and cinematography emphasizing his photographic memory and ability to MacGyver together insane plans on the fly. Jude Law's Watson is the grounded one who tags along despite an ever-present sense of being Fed Up With This Loony. I prefer an eccentric but dignified Holmes, which this movie certainly doesn't give us. I do credit the script with not falling into the common trap of making Watson an idiot. Instead, he's intelligent and competent, a fairly good investigator on his own.

The big problem is, the best Holmes stories are intellectual puzzles with only a smattering of action. But Guy Ritchie, true to his roots, throws in one setpiece after another. Of them, only the Cossack fight and the train sequence are truly memorable, and both are fairly early in the film. Meanwhile, the actual case to be solved fades into the background. We know Moriarity's planning something, and we eventually find out what, but it's more a matter of following the trail until his hideout is found then any test of deductive reasoning.

Also, do not make your entire mystery revolve around a MacGuffin which isn't even mentioned before the climactic revelation. That's just cheating, and it's especially annoying because one or two shots of the book earlier would have been all we needed.

Also also, Stephen Fry's fat ass in a birthday suit is not funny. It's traumatizing.

1 comment:

  1. I was blown away by the first movie when I saw it, mostly for the reasons that you list. Downy's Holmes is fun and smart and different, and Law's Watson is competent. It was very fun. That being said, after I saw the original RDJ Homles, I saw the far more brilliant BBC tv show Sherlock, which is by far the best interpretation of Holmes' character that I've ever seen.

    I really, REALLY recommend that one if you haven't seen it already, because it does emphasize the intellectual side. They also use the Psych method of showing you what Sherlock sees and what he makes of it, but here every scene like this is a clue in the puzzle, so when they finally put it together, you *get* it, because all of the clues were there, and it all makes sense. And also it's not full of pointless action scenes and whatnot.

    So yeah, you should check that out ASAP. It's on Netflix ;D


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