Tuesday, 7 February 2012

CINEMA REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The sequel to the 2009’s flawed but fun original blasts onto the screen with all the bravado and spectacle we’ve come to expect from this irreverent take on the great detective. This installment properly introduces Sherlock’s arch nemesis Moriarty as chief villain this time, instead of having him orchestrating things from the shadows as in the first film. Promising, right? I thought so too.

The problem this time round is the plot. While the first film’s plot wasn’t the greatest it was at least interesting (the villain apparently able to cheat death), the sequel’s is essentially Moriarty trying to profit from war by becoming head of the weapons companies. It’s basically Moriarty killing his way to the top of the corporate ladder. It’s not fun, it’s not really exciting and doesn’t ever mesh with the bloke-y laddish nature of this iteration of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a serious component in a silly movie, and as such feels tonally out of place with everything else, such as Holmes in drag. The first movie was silly and had fun with it; this one tries to be serious, and still be silly. But it doesn’t work. Case in point, the way Holmes ultimately beats Moriarty is by stealing his notebook and seizing all his money. Yawn. And when the thrust (and especially the climax) of your story isn’t interesting all the gun fights and fisticuffs can’t ever make up for it.

However, that’s not to say they don’t try, and some of the action sequences are great. I particularly liked the scene on the train, with the welcome return of mini flashbacks to show how Holmes has tweaked things to his advantage. I loved that the methodical nature that Holmes employs to his detective skills also applies to his fights, anticipating every possible outcome (again, another great holdover from the first), which is used to great effect in the final showdown with Moriarty. But chances are, by the time you see that (non)fight you’ll have lost interest in what’s going on. I know I had. The best (sort of) action scene is a spoken game of chess, which has more tension and intrigue than the previous 100 minutes before it, which says it all really.

I was planning on writing some big review on what I disliked about the film, but I can honestly say I didn’t dislike it however it just bored me for most of the running time. A lot of reviews are saying that you should just go along for the ride, and be secure in the knowledge that even if you don’t know what’s going on that Sherlock does. But if I’m bewildered about what exactly is going on throughout, all the enjoyment gets sucked out too.

So for me, the best recent Holmes is played by Mr Cumberbatch, and as for this movie…?

2 stars

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