The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Game of Shadows

Fuck this movie.

I saw the first "Sherlock Holmes" movie two years ago, also on Christmas, in the theater. It was a very fun movie, that reminded me of the fun I had watching the first "Pirates of the Caribbean." It was a solid, entertaining popcorn flick and I had a great time. It wasn't an award winning movie by any means, but it was very entertaining.

"A Game of Shadows" wasn't entertaining. There were moments when it was on, but then it was followed up with something lame or bland. There was just no energy there. For example, there is a ten minute action sequence where they escape from Moriarty's munitions factory through a forest. If half the slo-mo had been cut, it would have been a two minute sequence. This was worse than a Zach Snyder flick.

I thought Professor Moriarty was horribly miscast. Jared Harris had no presence in the role, and it didn't help that his marksman sidekick has the same hair and beard color, and there were moments when I had to remind myself who was presently on screen. Mark Strong, in the first movie, had a lot more charisma, presence, and really seemed like an intellectual equal to Holmes, while this new movie just told us Moriarty was his intellectual equal over and over without showing us until the chess game at the end. And while that chess game was pretty cool, especially when they were just calling moves without even touching their pieces anymore, it was too little too late.

It also didn't help that Moriarty's scheme was plucked directly from the horrible "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" movie. Yes, yes, it's a decent plot to give Moriarty, but you really don't want to make think of that movie. Moriarty was the villain in that movie too, someone should have told them.

There's a section in the movie where Moriarty has a sniper shoot someone through a window, and at the same time, to cover the assassination, he has a bomb go off which kills everyone in the room the target was in. This makes the sniper entirely pointless, except as a plot device to give Holmes a clue. Because this Moriarty is kind of dumb.

The editing was atrocious, there were more jump cuts than a Michael Bay movie in this, and I really think the editing was a big part of the problem this movie had. The whole movie was very incoherent, and all over the place. It never gave me a chance to to care about any of the characters or take in the atmosphere. The first movie was big too, but it at least let you have fun with the characters, and get to know them.

I did like the action sequence on the train, that was a lot of fun. Reminded me of the action sequences from the first movie.

The ending really pissed me off, because it defied all logic. I saw it coming, because I've read the books, but when Holmes and Moriarty went over the balcony and fell into the waterfall, I was thinking "that's it!" And Holmes' survival defied any and all logic! He smuggled in his brother's oxygen apparatus. Um.... no. The fall from that height would kill any human being. Hitting water at that speed, from that height, is like hitting concrete. And by some miracle, even if he had survived thanks to his oxygen, the hypothermia would kill him. But that was, what, a ten thousand foot drop?!

But the worst part was turning Watson into an idiot by not being able to see Holmes in a "camo suit" sitting there in his office. That's a trick that can fool a camera, but it cannot fool the human eye sitting less than ten feet away! Besides, why keep up the charade at all? What's the point of Holmes letting the world and his friend think he's dead? Moriarty's scheme was found out, Holmes was a hero at that point!

I could point out that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended to kill Holmes for real when he and Moriarty fell to their deaths, even though he was forced to bring Holmes back. But gods... Doyle didn't want to bring him back, that death in the book was final! So was the death here!

I love action movies. The first "Sherlock Holmes" movie was both an action movie and a mystery. This one was just an action movie, and that's okay... when it's not Sherlock Holmes.

Congratulations, Guy Ritchie, thanks to you Michael Bay doesn't have the honor of directing the worst movie of 2011 anymore. You should feel proud.

Now, after all that, I would like to promote a good movie. A good Sherlock Holmes themed movie. See "The Great Mouse Detective." Yes it's an animated Disney movie with mice in the roles of Sherlock Holmes, Watson, and Moriarty, but it is MUCH, MUCH better than this movie was. Remember when I said Moriarty had no presence in this new movie. "The Great Mouse Detective" gave us Professor Ratigan as portrayed by Vincent Price. You cannot go wrong there. And it was much, much closer to the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.


  1. Dude, watch Steven Moffat's "Sherlock" if you want to see the Sleuth done right.

    Or just watch an episode of House.

  2. If you want another thing to piss you off. Rumor has it that Daniel Day Lewis was being considered to play Moriarty.
    Or not depending on whether you'd rather he not disgrace himself by being a part of THIS movie.
    I haven't seen this movie yet, and I'm now weary of whether to see it or not. I enjoyed the hell out of the first movie, and am not sure I'd want the first one ruined by THIS.

  3. Thanks for warning us away from this. I hope the upcoming Stephanie Plum movie doesn't botch things up like this.

    Out of curiosity, did you see the Masterpiece Theatre version of Sherlock this year? I'd be interested in hearing your take on it.