Fine, I'll admit it. I have an inexplicable weakness for Robert Downey, Jr. as superheroes.
I eagerly went to see Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and loved its continuing format from Sherlock Holmes that included the slow-motion stuff, the rapid action stuff, the quirky dialogue, and variations on the scrumptious original movie score.
When I read that it was over two hours long, I was thrilled. More Sherlock Holmes for me! But then I tend to get lost in characters and don't want to let them go, be they in novels or movies.
And so, I was really pleased to see Watson (Jude Law) exposed as a not all that upright a character, to which Holmes (RDJ) alludes in the first movie, and this one. Watson is not only more passionate in this sequel, he reveals the less than stoic character that he hides in the first.
Ahh, Moriarty. What an evil man, not just quirky evil, but deep down, calculatingly, cunningly, just-caused-the-the-big-recession-lately evil. His evil is not imaginary, it is real, it's what we see in the headlines every day, monumental and untouchable and unpunished. His villainy might go unpunished, as business criminals do in our time, but he's made the mistake of being annoyed by Sherlock Holmes, and exacting his revenge by foul crimes against those whom Holmes loves.
The story is convoluted, vicious, and fast-paced. If there was any complaint that I would have, it would be that there should have been three movies made in the interim to show the instances Moriarty mentions in which Sherlock Holmes thwarts or interferes with Moriarty's crimes.
As it is, if I was only coming to this sequel as someone who had not seen the previous movie, I might be rather lost and confused by the inside jokes and stylistic exposition.
As a Sherlock Holmes/Robert Downey Jr. junkie, I loved it, and can't wait to see it again.
You have to admit, making sequels can be a tough task. There are lots of built-in expectations, and there is pressure to hurry up and strike while the iron is hot to capitalize on the (presumably) successful original. And there certainly have been some successes. IMDb.com has at least one critic's opinion of some of the ones that worked.
This past week, Sand and I hurried of to the theater, bought our popcorn, and settled into our seats to see the much anticipated sequel to the 2009 Robert Downey vehicle (much anticipated by Sand and I anyway). The lights went down, the movie began and ...
Watson is getting married as he said he would in the last movie and Holmes still is reluctant to let go of his friend and partner and so under the pretense of a bachelor party, he drags Watson to a club where Holmes pursues an ongoing investigation that involves a gypsy girl, her brother and Moriarty, a fiendishly smart professor who is plotting something and who finds Holmes a bother and knows that he can distract Holmes by trying to kill Holmes' best buddy Watson and his new bride, something Holmes can not allow to happen, especially since as it happens what Moriarty is planning is nothing short of plunging the world into war and Holmes needs Watson to figure out why and where Moriarty intends to do this and how the gypsy girl's brother figures into all this.
It was good to be back in London of 1895, and good to see the boys. As with the first installment, sumptuous visuals abound, not only in the recreation of London, but of Paris and Switzerland as well, and we are entertained with the trademark slow-motion action sequences that allow us to indulge our voyeuristic fascination with violence. The distinctive musical score of the first movie is also nicely reprised, as is the clever banter of Holmes and Watson as they continue to live out their love/hate, mostly love, relationship.
What's not to like?
I liked this movie and would see it again if money was of no consideration, but I have to admit that I fall squarely into the camp of those who do not believe that this movie was as good as the original. The original was a movie that was well balanced, clever, and focused on the story. The witty banter, the art, and the special effects were there to move that story along. Trying to capitalize on the success, the movie makers created a second movie seemingly by brainstorming the banter, the art and the special effects and then developing a story to try to string it all together. In the original, there was a real and menacing villain, an intriguing love interest, a playful interplay of Holmes and Scotland Yard that imaginatively illustrated the clever nature of Holmes' unorthodox methods, and a fascination with the actual machinations of the Holmes' mind. This movie could be criticized for being light on detail, having two-dimensional characters, and failing to present sufficient evidence that Moriarty was an evil mastermind.
While there are a few cameo appearances from the characters in the first film, only the Holmes and Watson characters figure prominently in this film. Three new characters are introduced -- Holmes' brother Mycroft, the gypsy girl Madam Simza, and of course Moriarty. Mycroft is a cute Oscar Wilde type figure, but almost irrelevant to the story, and Simza, although much cuter, was similarly irrelevant. Moriarty came across to me as more of a James Bond movie kind of villain, a Goldfinger or Dr. No type cartoonish character, and the conflict between Moriarty and Holmes seemed more like a Bond type conflict where people with metal teeth attack you and shoot lasers at your crotch until you get your chance to pound the hell out them and blow up their toys with some gadget you got from Q.
But you must understand that I am a person who has seen every Star Trek movie ever made and liked them. I never said they were all good, but I liked them none the less. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is probably better than any of the Star Trek movies, but it wasn't as good as the first one Sherlock Holmes. I'm just saying.