Watching Sherlock Holmes 2

Ah the Dark Sir Holmes.

Wait – no – I mean Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow.  Though it’s easy to see the mistake.

  • Like Batman Begins, the latest SH series had a first installment which utilized a lesser known villain to better establish the hero and the rules these worlds are operate under.
  • Like the Dark Knight, the 2nd part of the SH series has the hero’s most famous villain appear to menace him.
  • In both part ones, there is a hint or preview of the hero’s most famous antagonist.
  • In both part twos, a major character is presumed dead, only to have a later reveal that they’re not.
  • I would also say that the improvement from BB-TDK is the same proportion as that between SH 1 & 2.

As I’m not very familiar with the source material, I won’t comment on that (I have some of the stories, but I haven’t got to read them yet) – though a friend of mine mentions that they are pretty faithful.

The movie also contains one of the instances of “ramping” that’s actually GOOD and appropriate – usually.  My golden standard for ramping (and one of the first instances I saw) was from the teaser of the episode “A New World” from the TV show Angel (you can watch it here or read the summary).  Ramping should be used when an action scene involves a lot of details, characters or placements that an audience will need a few seconds to process.  Thus when the scene resumes at regular speed, the audience follows and tracks the action.  At least, that’s how it should be used instead of for pointless “coolness” like in 300.  Sherlock Holmes 2 has a few of those, but not enough to be offensive.

As always the actors are magnificent, with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law possessing the annoying, yet tolerating chemistry that guy friendships do have.  Also it’s nice to see an iteration of Sherlock Holmes which shows Holmes’ brilliance by making the surrounding cast intelligent themselves (something that – at times – annoys me about House).  Watson is quite smart and capable in a fight in a way that’s not necessarily better or worse than Holmes, but different.

All in all, I’d give this movie:

There’s worst things to spend a matinee ticket on.

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Spoiler Discussion

I’m not always a fan of mysteries.  I mean thrillers aren’t too bad, but I always have this sense that a mystery story should be one where a reader can figure it out about the same time as the protagonist, that upon rereading, you see how everything fit together and sometimes… this isn’t as effective as it should be.  At times I can’t figure out whether Holmes wants to be a thriller or a mystery (though with the name “Sherlock Holmes” it is usually assumed to be mystery) and the problem is that sometimes it seems like the viewers should have knowledge that they can’t.  Example from the first one: the remote control device.  Now that works for modern audiences because that technology is common place for us, we know it exist and that it’s possible.  If, however, it was an older audience (a contemporary one to Holmes), then it would have seemed like a character was trying to fake a magic trick by… using real magic (yes you can call it tech, but if it’s fantastical enough, it becomes indistinguishable from magic – see Chuck’s (of SFDebris) treatise on technobabble).

In this sequel, we come upon the “face transplant” – something we’re STILL working on perfecting in the modern day (last I heard), much less in the time that this takes place.  Part of me wonders if this was a later decision forced upon the movie makers by the studio.  The entire plot ultimately revolves around this woman’s brother having the face of another person.  But we’re never really shown any reason for him to look different (never any sign of picture IDs).  In this time and place, it shouldn’t have been that hard (especially with the money and power we see Moriarty wield) to have infiltrated a lackey in an appropriate position.  Which then would have made the later attempt on his sister’s life (and a few others) more logical – you don’t want that person to show up and identify the infiltrator.  But if you’ve changed the infiltrator’s face… what does it matter whether his sister (or friends) live?  In fact, making an attempt on their life would just end up cluing law enforcement (or your detective nemesis) onto your plans – which it did.  If they had let that “technobabble” out of the movie, the story would have been tighter and more organic, and rated an additional shell.  As it is, I wish movie makers would think through their story choices more…

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One thought on “Watching Sherlock Holmes 2

  1. I haven’t read the spoiler part yet, as I haven’t seen the movie, but I just want to say how very glad I am that you enjoyed it! That makes me even more excited to see it, when I finally do.

    Interesting note on the slow-mo bits that I’m spreading to as many places as possible (mainly because I feel special for knowing something not everyone knows :P): the guy involved with a lot of that is called Gavin Free, and not only does he have connections to Roosterteeth (he directed season 7 of Red vs. Blue!), but he also does stuff on Youtube, also with slow motion. His channel’s called the Slow-Mo Guys, and it’s awesome.

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