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Saturday 22 September 2012

Burl reviews Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows! (2011)

Ha ha, the movie review’s afoot! I’ve been reading, or I should say re-reading, a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories lately! They make for pretty cozy reading when the temperature and the leaves both begin to drop! The scene inside 221-B Baker Street, with the roaring fire and Holmes puffing his pipe and Watson doing whatever he does, Sudoku or something, as they wait for Mrs. Hudson to show in the latest desperate client, can be as comforting as a soft warm blanket!
So when it came to watching a movie, my thoughts turned to Holmes! One of the Basil Rathbone / Nigel Bruce classics would have done the trick nicely, but I thought I would check out one of these recent action blockbuster Holmes movies that were directed by Mr. Streisand and see just how Conan Doyle-esque they actually were!
Not so much, as it turns out! Of course the stories often have action scenes in them, but I don’t recall any exploding trains or tumbling stone towers! And the Holmes of the stories is a boxing expert, but not a full-fledged practitioner of the mystical martial arts of the East, I don’t believe! But here we have Mr. Downey Jr., famed from his role in The Avengers, using some sort of telekinesiology to battle his enemies to the ground!
Ha ha, I’m rambling a bit, going off on tangents and not likely making much sense! But really I’m mirroring the experience of watching this movie, which has a plot involving the dread Moriarty fomenting war in Europe in order to make a killing supplying war necessities to all parties! I liked that the picture deals with such relevant issues as war profiteering, which is endemic today but is rarely talked about! The recent war in Iraq, for example: people always say it was because of the oil, but the massive funding a war footing dislodges from the public to the various private arms industries was plenty motive enough!
There I go rambling again! But it’s by way of saying that I appreciate the themes of this picture as much or more than the surface – the fights, chases, explosions and such! And I must say I wasn’t wild about some of the techniques employed by the director, Mr. Streisand! There’s a bunch of slow motion that didn’t seem to have much reason for being, except to make the movie five or six minutes longer! Ha ha! And really, the plot makes very little sense, and the individual action scenes, like the train full of Mounties shooting machine guns, were improbable strategies on the part of the bad guy, Moriarty!
But there were things I liked too! Moriarty was one of them, in fact! He was played by Richard Harris’s son, and I thought he did a fine and menacing job of it! One review I read called his performance “curiously flat,” but I beg to disagree! Stephen Fry was also very entertaining in the role of Mycroft! I also appreciated the photography in the film, which was by the great French cinematographer Philippe Rousselot! The location for the final confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty was a very artfully conceived special effect, as well!
Altogether it was a pretty forgettable bon-bon of a photoplay, and it delivered very little of the Holmsian atmosphere I’d been hoping for, even though some large swatches of the film, particularly the ending, hewed closely to some of Conan Doyle’s actual stories! Maybe I’ll watch one of the Rathbone/Bruce pictures after all! In the meantime, I give Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows one and a half fantastic chair disguises!

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