REVIEW: ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’
REVIEW: ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ has ammunition to snap Hollywood out of winter doldrums
Frequent readers of The Local Q movie page may have noticed the recent article claiming this weekend would be a different story at the box office thanks to “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” Was the recent Hollywood slump simply a case of bad film offerings over the holidays, or rather a preoccupation of shopping and other holiday distractions? We’ll let the final sales numbers be the judge of whether the slump is over, but we can investigate the latest Sherlock offering to see if it’s worthy of such a prophetic status of breaking Hollywood out of its funk.
Guy Ritchie returns to direct the sequel to 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes,” which teased a showdown between Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris, TV’s “Mad Men). “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” delivers the encounter in an action packed mystery that tops its predecessor. When a series of bombings leaves Europe on the verge of war, Holmes begins unraveling a mystery that leads back to Moriarty. Once the Professor realizes Holmes is on to him, he threatens that Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and his new bride will be in harms way if Holmes continues his investigation. A game of one-upmanship begins between Holmes and Moriarty that forces Watson to return for one last case to protect his new bride and help prevent France and Germany from going to war.
Three things stand out that makes the film extraordinary. The mise-en-scene, storytelling, and acting. The overall look of the film (the mise-en-scene) matches the late 1800’s era with accurate costume and set design. The set designer took it a step further, as the film seems to have a faded storybook feel to it – even the title sequence plays out like a page-turning story – which is extremely fitting for the 1800’s novel-turned-modern day blockbuster.
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is film sequencing at its finest. My biggest critique of the 2009 film was that Ritchie tried to include too much into the story – from plot to visual effects. The latest incarnation is perfect – revealing enough in each scene to keep the audience on the edge of their seats guessing right along with Holmes, but not lingering long enough to bog down the flow of the film. There is a thrilling sequence midway through act II that brilliantly combines the film’s diegetic sound of an opera performance with a desperate search by Holmes and Watson to stop another bombing. The scene is so powerful you think it’s the climax of the film — but it simply peels back more layers of the plot. Things do get a tad hokey towards the end of act II, but thankfully the film quickly returns to form in time for a climactic and somewhat surprising act III.
Robert Downey Jr. has completed his transformation and appears to have as much fun in front of the camera as the snarky Holmes does solving his cases. His story of redemption is a lone bright spot in a town that sees far too many of these tales go the opposite direction. While Downey Jr. is the ultimate benefactor of his triumph over substance abuse, we as an audience are allowed to relish watching an actor in his prime fully enjoy and perfect his craft — and you just get the sense that he has a tad more appreciation for it given the second, third and fourth chances he’s been given. Downey Jr. and Law share the same chemistry displayed in the first Holmes film, and Jared Harris steps up his game to do his best to match Holmes on-screen and Downey Jr. off-screen.
Ritchie does go to the well one too many times on giving us a look inside the mind of Holmes as he sees things unfolding in slow-motion. It’s an interesting effect, but we really only need to see it once to understand how Holmes operates and continues to get out of jams. Unfortunately we see these precursor scenes play out nearly every time Holmes is in trouble – to the point that it eventually becomes a distraction. Besides that, I question Moriarty’s financial motivations behind his evil ways when it seems he is already a man of great means. Why he would go to such great lengths for additional wealth is never explained.
Despite these flaws (no movie is ever perfect, as it is a work of art and therefore truly subjective), “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” certainly has the ammunition to snap Hollywood out of the winter doldrums it currently finds itself in. Despite Sherlock’s best efforts, it fell more than 20 million dollars short of the anticipated 65 million dollar opening weekend. Do we really live in a world where Warner Brothers says the movie only garnered $40.2 million in the opening weekend?
Perhaps this is the real problem with Hollywood — an under appreciation for the cinematic art form and lofty financial expectations that lead to quality films being labeled disappointments. This sounds a lot like Wall Street and our current financial crisis to me. Perhaps the #OccupyCinema movement needs to begin. Let’s hope it is more successful than Hollywood deemed the opening weekend for Sherlock and the good Doctor Watson.
|Print article||This entry was posted by jmartin on December 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm, and is filed under Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback from your own site.|