Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

Coming into this one I had heard a lot about how it was confusing and hard to follow.  Maybe I braced myself a little too much for that because I really didn't get that at all.  Going in, the viewer has to know that it's going to be a mystery and that there's going to be things that get explained along the way and you'll have to wait until the end for everything to be revealed.  That's what a good mystery is.  From all of the things I had heard, I was expecting absurd twists that didn't make any sense.  But that really didn't happen.  Granted, there may have been an action sequence here and there that seemed a bit out of place but nothing ever derailed the plot into anything incomprehensible and eye-roll inducing.  In fact, I thought they did a pretty good job of taking a plot that had a lot of potential to be confusing and making it quite easy to follow through some well placed and written expository scenes.

However, speaking of the writing, I did find it a bit distracting that a lot of the dialogue seemed to swing towards an over the top attempt at wit rather than story progression.  While they were able to use the dialogue to progress the story, the ratio was a bit too far the other way.  Being a sequel, they are going to try to take everything that made the first movie great and try to make it better.  In that, I think they tried too hard.  Not only was the dialogue too far towards wit and one liners, the use of slow motion in action scenes was over used as well.  It makes sense when Holmes is mapping out a fight in his head to use the slow-fast-slow etc. method because it shows that it is in his mind and let's the viewer see how his thought process works.  But to use it in a regular "real time" action sequence is just distracting and reeks of "look at how good my cinematography and special effects are" by the film maker.  While it is kind of cool to see the detail in the explosions and destruction, it takes too much away from the film to be effective enough.

Don't get me wrong though.  Other than those two problems, this is still a very enjoyable and fast paced movie.  The dynamic between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law is still very strong.  Jared Harris is also excellent as the villain, Moriarty.  The rest of the acting is decent but average.  Not great but not anything to make it a bad movie.  But considering that it's all about Downey Jr and Law, that doesn't matter.  From a directing standpoint, I was impressed.  My judgement may be skewed because I'm a Guy Ritchie fan.  But he once again uses smart lighting and colour to create a melancholic world that is just on the edge of fantasy and reality.

See it.  It is one of the stronger sequels in recent memory.  But do pay attention.  If you let your mind wander, you may get lost quickly.  I had the benefit of being warned and I think maybe that is why I could follow it.  Because I forced myself to stay focused.

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