Sherlock Holmes : A Game Of Shadows
As he is perhaps the most prolific and most featured character in the history of film we all of us know a fair bit about Mr.Sherlock Holmes, especially the fact that he is a very smart man. So when tasked with making yet another adaptation Guy Ritchie must have wondered how he could separate his films from the series of clever literary classics an d the approach that he seemingly chose was to make them, and their lead, as stupid as can be. The first film in the series injected some intensity and irreverence to the intriguing but inherently stuffy stories of the British detective, marrying his core traits with those that would satisfy a Saturday night audience; this sequel however simply subtracts what it is that made the series Sherlock, leaving only scraps of silly behind to inhabit the films overly serious shell .
Holmes however is not an easily bested man and so despite his best efforts Guy cannot ground him out completely. There is therefore a battle going on beneath the agonizing action-adventure surface, a battle between two cultural stances, the high and low forms of art. For every scene of Moriarty singing ’The Trout’ as part of an elaborate back and forth banter, there are several of Downey in a selection of not so dapper wigs. One half of Guy seems to want to make a silly romp while the other wants to tell a serious story of cerebral combat between two great minds; I just wish that he had either made up his mind or taken his meds because the convulsions have long since stopped being cute.
The same goes for Holmes himself, Downey’s take on the great Detective was the main selling point for the first movie but here in the sequel he is perhaps the weakest element. The phenomena is akin to what occurred in the pirates sequels; after their success in the first picture the creatives become overly fascinated by the comic follies of their lead character, allowing them to take centre stage instead of the more suitable, sideline position that they originally held. While his queer fascinations were quite entertaining at first, Holmes more erratic behaviours simply grate on us now; we have become Dr.Watson and can surely now empathize with his plight. Perhaps if the jokes had been funnier and the perversions more unique the added emphasis given to them could have been forgiven, but given that they mostly miss and are tried so frequently it can’t help but be considered a failure.
Thankfully though the other side of the war is not so weak with M and M both real stand-ups. Stephen Fry’s Mycroft is an instant classic and a perfect portrayal of the character; injecting some classier but still broad comedy into the mix, proving that such a thing does still exist. The other M, Moriarty, operates on an entirely inverse plane, playing for chilling villainy, getting it and then some. Harris makes a perfect villain, his inherent sneer and accent alone make him seem dastardly but it is the look in his eyes that sells you on his danger. It is a shame then that these two skewed simulacrums of Sherlock – both infinitely more interesting characters – are only tangentially related to the rest of the plot, There is a sense that perhaps this is due to Guy holding Moriarty back, so as not to spoil him so early in the franchise; however I would definitely have preferred one Moriarty heavy movie than three in which he plays the over-arching mastermind. But alas, it is not to be, so instead the pair simply pop in on occasion to steal the show before the film reverts to yet another generic action sequence featuring far blander fare.
Generic only in content of course, their style is another matter altogether and for that matter another duality, fast and slow (as seen in all the trailers). Sometimes this approach works to create some nice visuals, but it never actually adds anything to the story. It was nice that they have started to subvert the “pre-fight precognition” thing already though, because that gimmick was another that wore thin fast after it’s first use.
The film itself mirrors the pacing of these action sequences; switching between tones and speeds on a whim, never really settling into any one, never really deciding to which side the war was won. Though regardless of its cultural intentions the film is simply never as smart nor as funny as it thinks it is; the schemes are all rather simple and the sleuthing mostly hit and miss. Had either side established itself as in charge and lead the film against us then it may have succeeded in the same way that the first one did, even if that leader was the silly side, but instead it succumbed to infighting and so neither side was left in shape enough to shine by the time it reached our screens. If only it had decided on a tone then this could have been another enjoyable take p, though i guess it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure that out though.