Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
“I’m on my honeymoon!!!!”
I’m not going to repeat the things I said about Guy Ritchie’s distinctive directorial style in my blog review for this film’s prequel. Nor am I going to point out that this is pretty much an action film version of Sherlock Holmes (though this film emphasises this less), or that Robert Downey Jr is ridiculously good here and undoubtedly the greatest leading man working in Hollywood today. Yes, he’s even a bit better than Johnny Depp. He’s that good.
This film is far more respectful of the source material than its predecessor. Although not exactly a version of The Final Problem, it borrows from it heavily, including the apparent deaths of Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls, although of course we’re not expected to believe that Holmes actually died. Are you listening, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss? If that wasn’t enough, Stephen Fry gives us a version of Mycroft which is both extremely entertaining and extremely faithful to the source material.
Moriarty’s dastardly scheme is delightfully nefarious, if a little dependent on the writers’ knowledge that the First World War would break out twenty three years after the end of the film. Moriarty’s plans to make a gun running fortune from a massive war gives us a good excuse for lots of big budget hijinks as Holmes and Watson speed through France, Germany and, of course, Switzerland.
The bromance between Holmes and Watson is handled rather hilariously, with best man Holmes not being best pleased about Watson’s upcoming marriage. This nice little character point gives Downey a chance to show what a great actor he is, and gives Jude Law a chance to show what, in my opinion, a great actor he isn’t. Jared Harris is a surprisingly middling Moriarty, and one surprisingly faithful to what little references there were to the character in the regional stories. In fact, this faithfulness is taken a little too far: is there really any need to include Colonel Sebastian Moran? Incidentally, doesn’t Moran sound a bit common for a colonel in the Victorian army?
Still, this is enormous fun to watch, if slightly long, and I have to admit it was excellent. In fact, I would admit this film to that elite club of sequels that are better than their originals.