Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Oh dear

I'm a bit Holmesed out these days, what this and the far better Sherlock on TV. I like Robert Downey, and so I wanted to like the new Holmes movie, but it's pretty much crap. At the moment, all hell is breaking loose in the wider world of teh intarwebs about file sharing and piracy and what all, and I keep hearing that piracy will kill Hollywood and stop new films from being made. And with Game of Shadows under my belt, I have to say; sure, fine, bring it on. Sounds good. Because movies are getting worse, not better. Stopping now almost sounds like a plan at this point.

Game of Shadows' problem is the same problem that most expensive movies seem to have nowadays; it's a bunch of stuff happening, and then it's over. The stuff isn't there because it has anything to do with the characters or the story - not that there actually is a story these days - but because some empowered hyperactive child thought it would be really cool if there was a scene in the movie where stuff exploded in some novel way. So, the train to Brighton gets destroyed about half way through the film because Guy Ritchie thought it would be awesome. I could see how it would have been expensive, but it wasn't awesome, or even very interesting. When I have time, the whole way through a hyper kinetic action scene, to wonder just why the hell people would be doing what they're doing, the scene has failed, even at being hyper kinetic. Why would anyone fire a maxim gun the length of a train? Why would anyone send a squad of people disguised as redcoats to kill a honeymooning couple who don't even suspect that they're targets? And so on.

Which is not to say that there are not moments. Both TV's Sherlock and Game of Shadows end on a Reichenbach Falls routine, and Game of Shadows actually carried its Falls moment off better, both in terms of the staging and more importantly in terms of the motivation. There's a clever moment when Watson turns the tables on Basher Moran by bringing a MUCH bigger gun to a gun fight (what makes it work is Moran's "Oh, that's not fair", which is just perfect coming from a bullying aficionado of the sneak attack). And the whole opening ten minutes of the movie while Sherlock tussles with Rachel McAdam is great fun; it's exactly what the rest of the movie ought to be and ain't. Hmmm. Therein lies the real problem, now that I ponder it; Downey is a good actor, with excellent comic timing and once you have an asset like that, you build the movie to make the most of it. Instead, Ritchie spends most of the movie concocting stupid set pieces in which Downey can't get a word in edgewise. It would have been a much better movie if it had never left London.

The very last scene of the movie shows Holmes sneaking back in to 221B Baker Street and typing a "?" after "The End" which Watson has just added at the bottom of the final page of his account of the adventure. The answer to that question has to be "Gosh, I sure hope so." Downey has better things to be doing with his time. So do I.


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