cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 09:28pm on 18/12/2011 under ,
Last night [profile] esrblog and I went with friends to see the latest Sherlock Holmes movie, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the great sleuth.

The movie had a lot of what made the first Sherlock Holmes film a lot of fun: good period color (don't confuse that with meticulous authenticity, however) and great acting, especially from Downey, Jude Law as Dr. Watson, Kelly Reilly as Watson's bride, Mary, and Noomi Rapace, as Madam Simza, a gypsy fortune teller who managed to become entangled with the two. Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler makes some brief appearances at the beginning of the movie and then disappears, with suggestions that she has been permanently disposed of.

Unfortunately, the overall story was even weaker this time around. There were some great scenes, and some marvellous plot contrivances, but they are connected to each other by rather dull, all-dialogue scenes that are boring by virtue of their predictability (even when they are meant to contain plot clues). There were also increasing amounts of minor, but distracting, anachronisms, the most conspicuous of which turn up in the dialogue ("having a relationship"; "no pressure!") A large part of the problem with the script is that it has to deal with the difficulties in introducing Professor Moriarty into the movie's cosmos, as well as his fight with Holmes over Reichenbach Falls and its ambiguous conclusion. Moreover, in order to try to convey the workings of the Great Detective's brain, a lot of stop-and-go action and slow motion trickery is used, and the result tends to slow down even the best of the outrageous, shark-jumping chase scenes. So despite all of its good parts the movie is less than convincing as a story. I, at least, spent too much time throughout the picture enjoying one scene and then wondering when the next bit of fun was due to arrive.

So should you see the movie? Yes, but I think you'll have more fun when you rent it later, to watch with friends. Why? That way, you'll be able to hit the refrigerator or refresh your drinks during the dull parts. Just make sure you catch Watson's stag party, and Holmes pulling up with Watson to the scene of what is to be Watson's wedding... But if I say anything more, I'll need to resort to an lj-cut.

Just go see the picture for yourself--without children, preferably. There is a fair amount of gory violence and explosions that you may prefer to keep from young eyes, at least until you've vetted it first.
cathyr19355: Stock photo of myself (Default)
posted by [personal profile] cathyr19355 at 12:21am on 27/12/2009 under ,
Tonight, [livejournal.com profile] esrblog and I braved the rainy cold post-Christmas weather to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I've been eager to see the movie since I first saw the trailer. The fact that most reviewers and patrons who have seen it, have either loved or hated it (with no middle ground) made me even more curious.

I do not need more than a short lj-cut in this review, because there's really very little plot I need to discuss here. In a real sense, the plot didn't much matter; what made the movie was the interaction of the main characters, and the performances of the actors who played them; particularly Downey, Law, and McAdams.

Some of my acquaintances who saw the movie claimed to be disappointed that it was not the "real" or canonical Sherlock Holmes. I believe they're mistaken. To the contrary, Downey did a masterful job of bringing to life the Holmes of the Conan Doyle stories, who actually did:

* Take drugs to alleviate his boredom when he did not have a case to occupy his energies;
* Was a keen boxer and a good shot;
* Engage in unorthodox experiments in his rooms.

If anything, Downey and the scriptwriters toned *down* one aspect that was striking about the original character--namely, Holmes's propensity to be cutting with people, regardless of gender or rank, whom he perceived as wasting his time.

To my surprise, Jude Law as Dr. Watson nearly stole the show. Not only is he shown as helping Holmes out of difficulties and acting as a sounding board for his theories (perfectly canonical), he is shown as being much keener of perception and swifter to catch on to developments than the Watson of the stories. He is only a half-step behind Holmes, as opposed to the one-and-one-half step(s) of the canonical Watson, and the character is much improved thereby. As other reviewers have said, Law and Downey as Watson and Holmes perfectly capture the feel of the way two old friends and long-time roommates would interact, and it made the movie that much more fun to watch.

Watson and Holmes are so well-matched that McAdams, as Irene Adler, has a hard time carving her own path into the movie. Here it's hard to make accusations of non-canon characterization, since relatively little about her appears in the Holmes stories (though her operatic career has been jettisoned for a more mundane background). But the movie *does* succeed in making plausible one detail that has always been less than completely explained--namely, Holmes's fascination with her. To explain what I mean without spoilering, I do have to resort to a brief cut.

Read more... )

Finally, Watson's financee Mary (who is something of a non-entity in the stories) emerges as a woman of spirit here--one who takes a quite reasonable dislike to Holmes because she deduces, correctly, that Holmes is attempting to prevent, or at least postpone, the day when Watson will finally leave 221B Baker Street in favor of a marital abode with her. Kelly Reilly is to be commended.

The setting is plausibly, though not perfectly, late Victorian London. The filmmakers, as filmmakers have done since historically-based movies have been made, ignored contemporary notions of female beauty and given Irene a style of makeup (darkly eyeshadowed and eyelinered eyes) that was not used even by "fast" women in the period. Both women also wear day dresses with necklines that plunge rather more than would have been the case in period dress (probably because the plot did not provide any occasions where evening dress could have been worn).

But that is a minor caveat. The fascinating part is that these ingredients have produced an amazingly close approximation of Conan Doyle's (anti?) hero. It's not a laugh riot, but it's a wonderfully interesting take on a character who must have seemed fantastic and unreal when he was first written--the man of action who nonetheless calculates every move and uses every bit of input at his command to stay ahead of his enemies.

And in case you wondered, the phrase "Elementary, my dear Watson!" does not make an appearance, even once.
Mood:: 'satisfied' satisfied

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