Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Holmes and Watson are trying to solve another mystery; this time investigating what appears to be a series of unconnected bombings, but which eventually put them on the trail of Holmes' nemesis: professor James Moriarty. Just like last time, Holmes uses some very unorthodox approaches to solve the case, but unlike last time the banter between Downey Jr and Jude Law just isn't the same which I think made the whole film feel a little flat. Director Guy Ritchie made an effort to make this film even funnier than the last, but I don't think I really laughed once. No, sorry, the state that Watson turns up to his wedding in made me snigger; but this isn't funny or necessary:

Despite Holmes having to try and outsmart Moriarty, I just found the story quite boring. I don't know why, because thinking back it sounds like it should be quite exciting, but it just seemed to really trundle along. Perhaps I was spoiled by having seen BBC's Sherlock (fantastic btw), which also sees Sherlock pitted against Moriarty in the climactic episode; but unlike Game of Shadows it is superbly crafted, impeccably acted, and fascinating & intriguing from start to finish. There is quite a cool action set piece about 2/3 of the way through the film, as lots of heavy artillery are used to try and destroy Sherlock and Watson as they flee through some woods; however, the sequence felt a bit shoe-horned in rather than flowing naturally.

Noomi Rapace is interesting as the gypsy Madam Simza Heron, she is probably the most developed character in the film; having said that Jared Harris' portrayal of Moriarty is also very good. Stephen Fry makes an appearance as a rather eccentric Mycroft Holmes. Again, both Downey Jr and Jude Law are good, and as before Jude Law comes across better, I think because he doesn't have to force his performance as Downey Jr does. As in the first film, Victorian England (and a lot of Europe this time) looks super, apart from one "night" shot of a train which is very badly done; clearly filmed in broad daylight but filtered to look like night; it stuck out like a sore thumb and it just looked cheap.

Overall I thought that it was a tepid, drawn out adventure, which tried too hard to be funny and exciting, and fell short on both. Guy Ritchie's usual style is clearly on show, but the film lacks the razor sharp banter of some of his earlier work and indeed the first Sherlock film; and his dramatic fight scenes look like a sub-standard imitation of Zack Snyder's quick/slow/quick techniques. I came out of Game of Shadows thinking "Meh".