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‘A Game of Shadows’: No Sh–, Sherlock?

December 17, 2011

One of my greatest regrets about shutting down the Two Cranky Guys blog when we did is that Bret Watson and I weren’t able to review Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows together, thus denying me the chance to use the line, “Elementary, my dear Watson!” and annoy the crap out of Bret. Alas, I had to suffer through this Holmes alone.

I skipped director Guy Ritchie’s first indignity committed in the name of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; I was raised on the old Basil Rathbone-Nigel Bruce movies (seeing a revival of The Hound of the Baskervilles at the MacArthur theatre in Washington, D.C. was one of the seminal cinematic experiences of my youth) and simply couldn’t picture a Yank like Robert Downey Jr. and a punk like Jude Law as Holmes and Watson. I wanted to skip this one, too, but after refusing to endure New Year’s Eve and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, I figured as a movie critic, I can’t not see everything.

Oh, how I wish I’d gone with my gut. Downey, Jr.—whom I’ve long maintained is one of the world’s most overrated movie stars—doesn’t even attempt a believable British accent. When pressed on this topic by Jimmy Kimmel (of all people), he sniffed, “I’m not a Method actor.” No, he’s a Methadone actor. This is one of the laziest, least potent performances I’ve seen since Burt Reynolds in The Cannonball Run 2. The low point comes when Holmes goes incognito as a lady. “Not my best disguise,” he quips limply. This guy is no genius; he’s a boob.

And here’s something you’ve never heard anyone say: “You know who was great in that movie? Jude Law.” He’s been in some good films, like Martin Scorsese’s Hugo and The Aviator, but he’s never been good in one. No wonder he’s more famous as a philanderer than a performer. Law lacks the heft, physically and otherwise, to embody Dr. Watson. He’s a lightweight—more like Dr. Drew.

A Game of Shadows recruits Noomi Rapace, star of the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to play a medium, but you don’t need to be a psychic to guess that she should’ve stuck to foreign-language films. Meanwhile, Mad Men‘s diabolically talented Jared Harris turns up as the great detective’s arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, who plots to murder Watson on his honeymoon, but even Harris can’t save scenes like the one in which he’s playing chess when he meets Holmes. (Crushingly Obvious Symbolism Alert!) That’s typical of the movie’s lead-fingered approach. A dumbed-down Sherlock Holmes is an oxymoron, and this movie is for morons.

Did you see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and can you explain the mystery of its appeal?

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7 Comments
  1. I think I can explain it perfectly. I did not grow up on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant tales, and neither did so many young people today (which is a shame), and in turn these people have nothing to judge the film by. It’s well acted with an attractive cast and visual appeal, isn’t that all people need these days?

    Not going to lie though, I did enjoy the first one… but you’re right, Jr’s accent is waaaaay off, at least in the first. It’s kind of like people in the north actually think Sandra Bullock had the southern accent down in The Blind Side, coming from a southern boy, she didn’t.

    Nice and funny review!

  2. Deliciously brutal. Love it.

  3. Thanks for this. I keep hearing from people who want to see this movie and I wonder why, since I agree with you on the first one and the trailer for this just looks painful. The generic-action-movie fights and explosions in the first one just felt lazy and tired, too, I thought

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