REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

4 01 2012

I was largely against popular opinion with my disappointed ambivalence towards Guy Ritchie’s first “Sherlock Holmes” film, writing two years ago that “it fails to captivate and engross like detective stories are supposed to do.”  I then went on to make a statement that is now quite ironic: “I do look forward to seeing the sequel which was clearly set up in the ending, hoping in the meantime that Ritchie and his team can figure out a way to get me more engaged.”

Well, here we are, two years later, and I’ve seen “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” Ritchie’s follow-up.  As I sat in the theater and each interminable minute passing felt like five times as long, I wished I could have been sitting in the first movie.  Everything wrong about the 2009 reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective series was multiplied and magnified, and most of what was done right was gone entirely.  Robert Downey Jr. is now skating on thin ice with me as I’m now almost totally averse to his pompous smugness.  It was awesome in “Iron Man,” amusing in “Sherlock Holmes,” annoying in “Iron Man 2,” and it’s just acrid in “A Game of Shadows.”

He’s suffering from what I’ve dubbed “Johnny Depp syndrome” – a performance and a persona dubbed iconic will eventually become an imitation and a mere shadow of its former self if repeated multiple times.  And with a movie this poorly plotted, Ritchie needed Downey at his A-game … and wound up getting probably about a C or a C minus-game.  His Holmes, this time around, feels jaded and bored, which makes me wonder if it’s the character or the actor who we are really seeing reflected on the screen.

I mean, if you can’t get a cheap, worthless laugh from drag, then that’s a pretty pathetic performance.  Poor Jude Law – just when Dr. Watson finally got his proper moment in the spotlight as something other than the token sidekick, Downey decides to totally dial it in.  Their bromance is the main focus of “A Game of Shadows,” or at least it provides the only thing worthwhile or watchable about the movie.  The classic Doyle villain, Professor Moriarty (played by James Harris), feels unconvincing and without much of a sinister streak about him as all.  Puss in Boots has more menace, if you’ll allow me to be frank.

The whole mystery aspect of the movie feels convoluted, overly complicated, and it doesn’t seem to click at the end.  They throw in a token female, the original girl with the dragon tattoo Noomi Rapace, as a gypsy fortuneteller after killing off Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler before the opening credits.  She adds nothing to the movie and seems like a forced on-set addition to a movie that needed one less character anyways.  At least she allows for the only memorable scene of the movie: the sight of Downey’s Holmes trotting behind the rest of his posse on a miniature pony.  With Ritchie’s style losing its wow and Downey losing his edge, hopefully this franchise is heading for Warner Bros. chopping block.  C / 



One response

5 01 2012

It was fun but nothing new from the first flick, and I couldn’t help but think Rapace was a bit wasted. Nice review Marshall.

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