G is out of town this weekend, off with a friend in Lost Wages. So, since I’m home alone I indulged in one of my very favorite things yesterday after work–I went to a movie by myself. I saw Sherlock Holmes–A Game of Shadows. I’ve been wanting to see it since the trailers started showing, but I had misgivings because the first movie a couple of years ago really let me down. I wanted it to be so much better than it was, one, because it’s, well, Sherlock Holmes and nothing about Holmes should ever be mediocre, and two, I adore Robert Downey, Jr., and three, the movie was set in Victorian London, so it had me from the opening scenes. However, as visually stunning as the movie was (and it was), the story lacked meat and coherence and some of the action was just too much for that time period. It was like Upstairs/Downstairs meets Die Hard. Or something. Anyway, it left me unsatisfied and so I was a bit hesitant about the second one because seldom are second movies in a series better than the first.
This one puts that paradigm to rest. Game of Shadows is about 100% better than the first movie in almost every way. The look is still the same–a washed-out, almost sepia-toned portrait of the era. The relationship between Holmes and Watson is much more to the forefront of this movie, perhaps because Watson is about to be married, and we all know how getting married changes friendships–especially friendships between guys and especially these two guys.
Even more interesting in this film, is that while RDJ is definitely the star, for me, it was Jude Law as the put-upon Dr. Watson who carried the movie. He was the balance, the foil to Holmes’ near madness, a manic, edgy, probably bi-polar phase of the detective, hell-bent on finding and destroying his nemesis, Moriarty, who was played with creepy wickedness by Jared Harris. He was by no means physically attractive, but exuded a strange mesmerism, like a cobra. The scenes between the two characters prickled with danger.
One of the other things I really enjoyed in this film was the ensemble work of the entire cast. Stephen Fry gave a fabulous performance as Mycroft, Sherlock’s (he calls him “Shirley”) politically-connected older brother. Kelly Reilly plays Mary Watson with a wonderful mix of Victorian sensibilities and common sense. And it was great to see Noomi Rapace as the sultry gypsy girl who helps the duo to escape the border guards and get to their ultimate destination. She was Lisbeth Salander in all three Swedish versions of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and gave wonderful, nuanced performances in all three movies. She does an excellent job in this film.
This movie is funny, even though it’s not a comedy. The audience in the theater with me laughed out loud quite a lot and a couple of people even gasped at a few things. The special effects were wonderful–slowing down the action at times to frame-by-frame so that one might almost imagine they were thinking in the same way that Holmes’ lightening-fast brain worked. The movie is set just a few years prior to World War I, and the events foreshadow that conflict, even though team Holmes manages to avert immediate disaster. It was an interesting time, again the clash of old Victorian versus the new technology of weaponry, battle, politics, all of it. Interesting times, as the Chinese say, and it’s an interesting film on many different levels. If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your opinion. If you haven’t seen it, I do recommend it, and definitely see it on the big screen.
Then let’s talk.