Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011) - Movie Review

I wish the way the last 20 minutes of “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” played transpired throughout the film. A thoroughly incredibly entertaining and novel climax like none other than Guy Ritchie pulls this film out of its ritual misery of continuous rather mediocre adventures of Sherlock Holmes with a commanding performance from Robert Downey Jr. and his nemesis Professor Moriarty played by Jared Harris. Ritchie employs the technique he used in the 2009 predecessor to avoid the laborious unnecessary stunt thrill one would have endured in regular circumstances. Instead we get the best mind games and we are saved of those troubles to have a stellar ending, at least for this film as the three-quel is in the works.

After the short lived romance of Holmes with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), he buries himself in the conspiracy of several events to be linked to the one man he doubts to be the problem, Professor Moriarty. In this he is left alone as his buddy and fellow investigator Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) is about to wed Mary (Kelly Reilly). Being devastated of being left alone and the only clue that left in this investigation is the letter he stole from Adler leads him to a gympsy Simza (Noomi Rapace). After Watson weds, he bids adieu to the couple for their honeymoon but gets an invitation to meet with Moriarty. That reveals the ill fate of his lover and the incoming danger to the newly weds Watson and Mary. That destines him to crash the honeymoon party before it began in the train as he has to rescue his buddy and thereby solve this mystery once in for all.

So far so good and the adventures that takes us through the trains and towers are entertaining but not enthralling. The vital visuals come into place when they are being chased by bombs, bullets and knives at Germany. Ritchie has managed to concise the perfect timings for his killer slo-mo shots. With commendable aid from his cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, he achieves those which accentuates the danger Holmes and his crew are going through and at the same time stopping our hearts unknowingly in the process. I am a great admirer for Ritchie’s visuals and here he triumphs in the department he so well has established.

There are simple character developments. Even the demise of his only possible lover is brushed aside for action than analysis. The relationship that gets prime attention of course is between Watson and the titular man. Sherlock clearly is disapproving of his friend’s marriage as he loses him to the domestication and to continue solo on these dangerous ventures. That underlying notion guides a good ending. Yet this is not a film about the great characterizations and relationships rather the heart pounding actions and the witty lines. The former happens in dozens while the latter are spread thin. Downey Jr. dons the wit quite casually in the film that require him to and here he seems to be subdued than the first venture.

Jared Harris as Moriarty appears quite non-threateningly at the start. The real terror of him only shows up as he hooks Holmes and swings him around for answers. Yet he really comes out to play his crucial part in the end. While I did complain about the way the finale played out should have been the tone the film should have carried, I think the punch it provided is due to the mildness of the rest of the movie. Yet it would have been quite entertaining to see these both fight out those kind of battles in much more detailed fashion on multiple occasions.

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is a perfect entertainer that cannot be questioned at all. It satiates the needs of the regular movie goer without denigrating them to mere puppets and then goes further in providing some novel ending against a fodder of uninteresting sequences. The plot and the eventual unraveling of it is not spellbinding nor does it require the great mind of Sherlock Holmes. It invites Robert Downey Jr. to have fun with his parts and perform stunts of raw muscle and agility with the right capturing techniques of Ritchie’s eye. These combination with a decently combined screenplay makes this film a complete entertainment.

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