Reviews: Sherlock Holmes
Firstly of all, I have to admit I had already half-watched the first film years ago, and only recently and in reverse order I saw the two films full, so my perception might not be the most accurate. But I will give it a try. THE GOOD
- Despite all my doubts (as I am not a fan of Downey, and in fact I dislike him thoroughly), the lead actors are remarkable. A great chemistry and mutual charisma.
- The characterization is very good as well. I bought completely this portrait of Holmes and co. (Watson, Mycroft, Moriarty, etc), and much more than the casts from Sherlock or Elementary.
- Stephen Fry was freaking great.
- The fighting sequences are sometimes cheeky and exaggerated, but I, as a martial artist and fan of both martial arts flicks and brainy films, was totally into them, especially the mind combat against Moriarty. They are a solid blend of intellectual analysis and physical fight, and they are (mostly) surprisingly realistic.
- The setting is a wonderfully executed view of the Dung Ages, and fits perfectly the films.
- Stephen Fry was freaking great. (Wait, didn't I say it before?).
- Though I am not a fan of yaoi neither, the Ho Yay between Holmes and Watson was to me funnier than I expected.
- The pacing of the first film is weird. I never could know which part of the film we were without looking at the clock.
- The reasoning is also improbable and difficult to follow, and Sherlock himself feels outmatched for most of the film. Unlike most of brainy films, which often look to me made to make the viewers feel smart, this looked made to make them feel dumb.
- The Illuminati-like cult also from the first film feels awkward and flimsy.
- The Moriarty stuff from the first film felt out of place and a cheap Sequel Hook.
- The Moriarty stuff from the second felt too much out from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a film which I liked (not that I see it as good, of course) but which critics have tried to teach me to hate.
Game of Shadows: slick, dumb, incongruous cash-grab
This can ostensibly be said about a lot of modern films, but it’s particularly apt here. While things like Transformers or G.I. Joe could be (thinly) excused by cries of “It’s the first live-action film adaptation!” and “Property is abandoned in cinema for years”, this is not the case here. There were many great films about Holmes in the past: right now there’s excellent Sherlock and Elementary on TV. Faced up to them, this “work” has little to offer. Sure, the CGI is pretty and Ritchie does give some good slo-mo shots when artillery fires at the duo in the forest. Besides that, everything collapses. The characters are paper-thin, and actors are plainly wasted in their roles, unable to muster much excitement for any of them. Moriarty mauling Holmes' arm while singing to German opera was the only genuine highlight of otherwise dull character scenes. The storyline is either ludicrous (bomb-maker shooting himself with lame excuse), painfully predictable (box with IED inside) or both (I genuinely rolled my eyes at Adler’s poisoning) and plotholes are abound. There is persistent gay subtext between Sherlock and Watson, which is not unfounded (they did frequent communal baths together after all), but here it’s so transparent and flamboyant (when Holmes was always inside armored closet in the books), that it soon becomes grating and serves no point other than to provide cheap laughs. To round it off, Sherlock’s method, which should have been the main draw, is filmed so quickly it barely has time to register, let alone have impact: the 5-second silent montage of Sherlock discovering hidden tunnel through finding a red wine drop on the wall (or something of a kind) is the worst offender. Instead, in a clear case of misjudged priorities, we get long, detailed background narration when the “Holmes-a-vision” is used: a gimmick that is not without promise, but is unbelievably ridiculous in its current form and drains any pretence of tension from the fights when it's used. The other combat encounters (like machine gun sequence on a train) impress only through the cinematography, as there is never a sense of protagonists being in danger. All in all, the film might be competent on the technical level, but it's a poor adaptation and a bad film, with a gaping black hole for its heart, brain, and everything else.
Pretty damn cool
This movie is very, very, Hollywood, but at the same time, it's an awesome callback to the original characterization of the novels, the main plot of the story is much more Xtreme then the regular Money, Cash, Hoes based plots of novels, but that isn't bad, a movie based around Sherlock outsmarting everyone would get boring, and Moriaty is overused. This movie is a buddy cop superhero mystery with a good deal of the League mixed in, I like about half of those things, but since they integrated them well, I can't complain. The Good:
- Watson and Homes are spectacular, their chemistry, (Not that kind, okay that kind too) and their contrasting natures were top notch.
- Downey Jr. = Charisma.
- Lord Blackwood's plan is awesomely pulp like and he portrays a wickedly evil badass very well.
- Fight choreography, was a little jumpy at first, and I thought that the pre-asskicking walk through of what Holmes was going to do was an interesting gimmick that they didn't overuse.
- The dialogue was well written, and I thought most of the conversations were funnier then Holmes classic.
- Holmes scanning Mary was a great example of how Holmes fits into the world, i.e. not at all, and why he'll miss Watson.
- Lord Blackwood's plan was solid, but he wasn't an inspired villain, was he greedy? a nationalist? crazy? those questions were left unanswered.
- Adler's actress was terrible, her being American saved us from an awful accent, but there wasn't an excuse for her to be so...bad, I winced whenever her and Holmes got a heart to heart. The only reason I can find for her to be in this film is either a nod to the fandom, offering the sequel hook, or making sure we don't think Holmes is gay, God forbid that happens. Oh, I forgot, Fanservice!
- The Chekhovs Armoury works a lot better with hints we can study, we couldn't taste, smell, or perform experiments of any of the items, this is just like the novels, but it still irks me.
- Very visible ending.
- I never bought that Blackwood was in any way supernatural, however, I'm a cynical bastard, and this (unintentionally) put me into Holmes head.
- Most of the non stars acting wasn't memorable.
Two (great) stupid movies about smart people
First, plot- SH had a fairly throwaway plot, while GOS tries to be more substantial, with mixed results. Anyone who has read the original stories knows that the plot (besides the mystery of the day)is non-existent. Ridiculous jumps in logic and plot holes abound. The character development of Holmes and Watson is a joy to watch. Acting- Mixed. In SH, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law carry the movie and are just fantastic. Mark Strong as Blackwood is so/so. Racheal Mc Adams as Irene SUCKS. The girl cannot act her way out of a paper bag. GOS cast is far better. Again RDJ and Jude Law carry the show, but with actual help from Stephen Fry as Mycroft and Jared Harris as Moriarty. And Kelly Reilly finally gets to shine as a kick-a$$ Mary. Naomi Rapace as Sim is OK. Production- The crazy editing and camera work gets tiresome after a while. On the other hand, the costume design and set design is amazingly good. The score is perfect, and the credits are fun and creative. Script-Laughing your a$$ off fantastic. RDJ is an unsung comedic genius in his delivery, so that helps. And Jude Law as the (not so) strait man is perfect. The accuracy to the original source material- Despite the fact that RDJ is decidedly NOT tall, thin, grey eyed, and possessed of a severe facial structure, (as Holmes is described by Doyle), none-the-less he IS Sherlock Holmes. Many people had issue with his interpretation of the character, but taking into account that Watson is a VERY unreliable narrator who is always editing himself so not to offend his stuffy Victorian readership, then Downey's interpretation of the Holmes character not only explains those seemingly out of place elements of Holmes' personality that don't fit in with the traditional interpretations of the character on stage and screen (bouts of mania and depression, drug addiction, erratic behavior,social awkwardness) but Downey's interpretation also reads like the ONLY logical conclusion as to what Holmes is like, sans Victorian era editing for "good taste". Granted, the costume department missed out on Holmes' supposed "personal cleanliness", but this Holmes doesn't look the part already, so why bother? Looks don't matter here, substance does. There are some debatable anachronisms, and on a whole the films are far more "explodey" then the stories would leave you to believe, but no real complaints.
Game of Shadows
It's good, but not overly memorable first off, the promise at the sequel with the clockpunk mind control device Moriarty took at the end of the first movie was never picked up, so that was my first disappointment. Another would be that there didn't seem like much time for calm recollection of plot, just frantic disjointed action scenes. This may have been the theater's fault, but the film seemed too murky and dimly light for my taste. I didn't like how they killed off Irene, i really liked her and then NO ONE mentioned her for the rest of the movie. The gypsies I wish weren't thieves as I understand the Romani people are very ill-represented in media but its no where as bad as "Drag me to Hell". The mystery wasn't as fun at the end like the first one, but that was probably due to the atmosphere of the film. Other than that, alot of what I liked from the first film was in here and Mycroft was a cool guy. I wish they had the cool supervillian like costume for Moriarty like the first one with the collapsible gun but it was good. 2.5/5
To keep it brief, from a Holmes fan... the movie.
An extremely fun film, that is surprisingly true to the canon (just remember: in the stories, Watson is a little unreliable. Keep that in mind and it does actually work), has two great leads (and for that matter, the two actresses playing Mary and Irene are brilliant) and will generally entertain for a couple of hours. The pacing is a bit off, and some of the editing is kind of conspicuous (decent editing makes you go ooh, that's clever, but brilliant edits are invisible... which they definately aren't here). And despite all being a bit Hollywood, it does actually have some intelligence. Which was a nice surprise. Oh, and the soundtrack is to die for. So yeah. A great film, albeit not 100% faithful.
Can't shake this old familiar feeling...
Sherlock Holmes 2: Game of Shadows has a lot that may cause deja vu in an old troper. The villain is Moriaty, naturally. The Napoleon of crime and the only man clever enough to match wits with Sherlock Holmes. His plot is villainous, naturally. He has through deception, subterfuge and outright nastiness brought the nations close to a world war. He has done this because he controls the means of weapons production, medicines and other things which he will profit from greatly in the event of war. The final confrontation takes place in a castle built into the side of a mountain... Hang on. This all feels a hell of a lot like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's not until Sherlock and Moriaty have a conversation at the end which includes the standard speech about how war is coming, even if it is not by Moriaty's doing that it really hits home. The set pieces are different, the actors are different, the action direction is better, but it's a dance we've seen before, and back then it was called the worst movie ever. Worth a watch, if only for the exquisite 'Escape from the Arms Factory' scene, but don't expect anything new on the plot side.
Game of Shadows: Much Better Than The First
If you liked the first Sherlock Holmes film, watch this one, it's better. If you hated the characterisation of Sherlock Holmes, this will not be for you. It has one nude/gay joke too many and too many fight scenes in the first half. It drops the goofy techno-magic from the first and talks in generalities and symbolism. There is no silly twist here but at each stage the characters try to know all they can about a situation from what is at hand and sometimes they don't know enough. The battle between Holmes and Moriarty feels epic, over a long period and for huge stakes and puts Holmes right at the edge of survival. Holmes feels much cleverer than in the first film and it's much more a battle of wits. Although the plot isn't clever it feels like the people driving it are. This film has the guts to take it all the way and the ending showdown between Holmes and Moriarty is a half-verbalised chess match (as in with pieces and boards), whilst their subordinates act in proxy for them and a moment where both men talk semi-politely to each other and calculate how the fight between them will end and Holmes realises... well you'll have to watch the film. Although this isn't the quiet logician that people think of in Holmes it carries a different weight and tone that is in it's own way true to the books. Doyle wrote about people who were in some way superhuman and this is felt in Holmes, Moriarty, Watson and Moriarty's practical committed Watson counter-part. And it looks beautiful, there is a much more cohesive style to this film and it feels like the images are more than just what we see.
The two leads are well done, with a lot of life breathed into them. Extra points for not resorting to making Holmes gay and Watson a bumbling sidekick. The villain? I found him odd. Wandering around in a Gestapo-esque outfit, plotting to over throw the World - this isn't very familiar to fans of Sherlock Holmes. Typically the villains of a Holmes novel would use an eleborate scheme, often including possible supernatural elements and unorthodox methods, but the scheme would always be towards a more mundane end (steal money/blackmail/revenge etc.). I don't think the World Domination fits very well - less Sherlock Homes and more Fu Manchu. The whole mystery seemed a bit beneath Holmes, who is practically goading about its easiness to solve by the end. The female character was a waste of space. The action scenes were fast and exciting, though occasionally bordering on the inexplicable. The final climax, for instance, involves the totty managing to (in the space of a few minutes) sneak from the sewers of Parliament and out ontop of a half constructed Tower Bridge, situated some miles away. Further more, the villain somehow knows exactly where she went, and intercepts her on the bridge (after taking a completely different route). All in all? Fun, silly, and there are plenty of little references in there for fans of the stories. The action and the buddy cop banter makes up for the dumb plot and weaker antagonists. Early on in the movie, I felt myself needing to take a bathroom break. I didn't go until the credits began rolling, so the film must have been gripping enough to keep me rooted to the spot.