Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

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*. The inevitable sequel. Inevitable because of the surprising success of the 2009 Sherlock Holmes. These are the worst kind of sequels, always made with the intention of turning the product into a commercial franchise.
*. I’m no fool for closure, but the ending here leaves us with more than a few dangling threads. Does Remi live or die? What happened to Moriarty and his henchman Colonel Moran? For that matter, what happened to Rachel McAdams? We only have Moriarty’s word for it that she’s dead. You can’t help but feel that the producers were keeping all their cards in play in hope of the franchise being extended.
*. It’s pretty much everything from the first film but more so. I don’t know how historically accurate any of it is (did they have contact lenses in the 1890s?), but it looks great. Meanwhile, Holmes has become not just a superhero but a Matrix-style ninja. The villains are, once again, proto-Nazis (Moriarty is an international merchant of death, but he’s based in Germany and tortures Holmes while listening to Schubert). Again there is a climactic fight at a high elevation.
*. Is Downey’s smeared make-up after the train battle deliberately meant to recall Heath Ledger’s Joker? It certainly looks like it.
*. Downey seems a bit scruffy to be Holmes. Admittedly, he goes through a lot, but even at the best of times he’s not bothering to shave. That’s very un-Holmesian, in my book. He does seem to have kicked his drug habit though. I wonder if that was responding to complaints about the first film.
*. Give that knife-wielding cossack lots of style points. There’s no need for him to be doing flips and running up walls as he chases after Holmes, but he puts on a full gymnastics routine anyway.
*. It’s typical of the bloat in these films that they have to keep upping the ante. The entire fate of Western civilization is at stake here. But as Moriarty points out, it’s all going to smash anyway and he’s just trying to make a buck off it. It’s remarkable that Holmes doesn’t really have a response to that.
*. Twenty-first century filmmaking. Which is to say, a comic book adventure. Downey and Law make for a handsome couple, and seem comfortable together. Overall, however, I found the film entirely predictable, ponderous and uninteresting.

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