Wrong Guy for the Job
Movie Review: "SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS"
Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 15:12
There is usually something negative to be said about a movie that sets itself up for a sequel. Then, there is almost always something worse to be said about a sequel that sets itself up for another sequel, as is the case with Guy Ritchie's most recent effort "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows." I'm not the guy that's going to spoil the ending for you, but you can bet your life on the fact that Downey is going to be back for another Warner Brothers-endorsed paycheck for this high-grossing series.
Considering Ritchie's repertoire of films, filled with his own avant-garde action-packed style, anybody with half a brain knows exactly what this film will be: Nothing special, just a bunch of big-budget explosions and some halfway witty one-liners. Yes, it's going to make money and, yes, I am so surprised that Downey wasn't nominated (again) for Best Actor in a Leading Role by the Golden Globes awards. But, in all seriousness and sincerity, where is the substance, Guy? Pun intended.
In this subpar sequel, Sherlock Holmes (again played by Downey) and Dr. Watson (an uninteresting Jude Law, again) attempt to stop the classic Holmes nemesis Dr. James Moriarty (Jared Harris), a world-renown mathematician, from starting the First World War years before it actually happened. Luckily for the viewer, the useless Rachel McAdams only returns shortly in the sequel before dying of tuberculosis (Is there any point to her existence besides being something to look at?) After this happens, Holmes attends Dr. Watson's wedding and then abruptly stops the beginning of his honeymoon by fighting off a bunch of seemingly random attackers during an epic train ride. They aren't, in fact, random, as they are there to stop Holmes and Watson from finding out about and stopping Moriarty. From there comes the typical cat-and-mouse chase, with an evasive and sharp-shooting Holmes often foolishly disguising himself alongside his trustworthy partner Watson to save the world.
The abundance of foreshadowing combining many typical Holmesian explanations leads to the obvious: That Guy Ritchie is just another Hollywood director that assumes every single one of his viewers is stupid. Nothing at all is left for the viewer to decipher or assume, as everything is blatantly explained so that a 5 year old can potentially understand. With that said, the abundance of the film is fairly well shot, save the edited sequences which cut every half a second because Downey probably can't fight the way Sherlock was supposed to. In playing Holmes, Downey tries to be witty, something he hasn't really succeeded at doing since "Iron Man" in 2008.
Downey's hot name combined with surgical experiments meant to awe the audience, big budget explosions and a fascination with elegance and royalty do almost nothing to save this fake period piece. The film tries to be operatic, which just doesn't work with Ritchie's "this looks so cool!" slow motion sequences. Something rather negative should be said when the characters of a movie are clearly smarter than their directors, which is the case here. Sherlock Holmes was written to be a pretty smart guy, obviously smarter than the Guy who's been releasing trash since "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" in 1998.