wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)
In the best scenes of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Moriarty and Holmes only talk. Their battles of wit, scream of mutual respect, yet you can see each of them scheme in their heads. The act of out-witting the other is the motto of the film. Intersperse this with energized, edgy chase scenes and you have the perfect end to a volatile cinematic year.Read more
The Sherlock Holmes I grew up with was overtly English, Victorian in his dressing, a schematic mastermind and a detective with the magical powers to solve anything. Blame it on the BBC adaptations or the selective reading of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work, but nowhere did he figure in my head as an action figure.
In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, however, a different web is spun: one of homoerotic camaraderie, eccentric, super-hero sequences of Holmes and Watson saving the world, or ummm, the situation at hand (with their physical grit, and not so much their detective powers). In the second part of Ritchie’s adaption of the age-old classic, Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. reprise their roles as Watson and Holmes, respectively to outsmart their conniving rival Dr. Moriarty.
Theirs is a battle of the intellect – its 1891, and Moriarty’s main agenda is to scheme and destroy, at the backdrop of the tension between France and Germany. He aims to use his intellect in ways that will reinforce his power. Jared Harris as Moriarty is at his curled-lip, sinister best. Holmes on the other hand, is shown using very little of his intellect. Downey Jr. as Holmes spends much of his screen time in bizarre disguises and mumbling what one could have only hoped was genius calculations.
Oh, but you do smile. Once you learn to ignore the (yummy) homoerotic subtext between Watson and Holmes in this version, you manage to dreamily watch the two as they spill with love for one another. Because Law and Downey Jr. could give Bogart and Bergman a run for their money. You almost forget about Rachel McAdams (as Irene Adler) and Noomi Rapace (as Simza the gypsy fortune teller, also the lead in the Swedish, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) – but not quite always. Stellar star cast; they act as perfect catalysts to the munificent characters of Holmes and Watson.
Their witty repartee acts as a charismatic breather between the high-voltage, testosterone-induced action through the film. You can see them not getting enough of one another, playing it up like a little tease meant only for the indulgent audiences’ eye.
One can trust Ritchie to turn things around, and how. I’m told, after a long discussion with a Sherlock Holmes expert, that Ritchie’s adaption of Holmes and Watson are very close to the books. That Holmes is as eccentric and babbling as we see in this film, and together he and Watson are almost super-hero like in their demeanor. I checked, only to find that Watson had an army training past, and Holmes has been trained in Martial Arts. And I was impressed.
Ofcourse the film has Guy Ritchie stamped all over it. This adaptation, unique as it may be, does have its clear establishing moments. Coupled withZimmer’s background score (not his best, but one that provides the signature feelers for high-intense scenes), mad scientists, gypsies and stylistically treated 72-frames per second action, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is feisty and delectable. If you were looking for the more cognitive version of the series, you always have the BBC version (featuring Benedict Cumberbatch).
Ritchie makes sure in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, entertainment is elementary.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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