Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows

Preview. Dull palette of browns and grays. In the slow start, Dr Watson (Jude Law) types and narrates, "storm clouds brewing .. bombings .. Holmes" (Robert Downey Jr) suspects master planner Prof Moriarty (Jared Harris). Every detail that causes Holmes to tilt his head questioningly, that does not fit, has no context, later proves vital. One such essential point is a hand-held apparatus, an oxygen breathing device that Holmes picks up at his brother Mycroft's house.

Since I can pause a DVD, replay small moments, I might watch a #3 more attentively, stop to wonder, predict possibilities for out-of-place points. I don't have the patience to backtrack over #2. To me, #1 plot was scattered overmuch supernatural fluffery. #2 is grounded, real, in money and WW2 politics, a complex spider-web that does make sense all through, plus details tie up at the end.

Kaboom in Strasbourg. Mysterious package passes to Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) in Chinatown. Doyle used Adler; here differs. My pleasure to see her again, strong skilled smart stunning, stoked anticipation [Spoiler .. turned to shock, disbelief she could be dead until confirmed by Moriarty Sim plays too small a role, not an irreplaceable presence]. In #1, she was a vivid red bright blaze.

Holmes, in oriental disguise, abstracts her parcel, but (why?) hangs around to make a date, and lose the parcel again. "Will you be coming as yourself?". He warns of pursuers, she corrects him, her "escorts". First fight has same slow-motion voiced-over prediction pre-play as #1.

At an auction, she trades the box for a letter, to an elderly Doctor. Just in time, Holmes contains the box bomb safely inside a sarcophagus. He takes her letter, recognizes a bystander, and finds the Doctor shot dead with a dart, later attributed to a heart attack. Remember his specialty is medical innovations.

Over tea at a public restaurant, she blames the letter loss on her boss's bomb. I suspect her tea is drugged, it is. He tings his glass, the floor empties, her venue now private. "I no longer require your services." plus ominous music equals stumbles, smashed dishes, At the Savoy, Sherlock gives up waiting for her. I could not believe she would be gone, Doyle had more.

Watson arrives at 22 Baker St for Holmes, to start his stag party. His old room is bedecked with newspaper articles, joined by strings, to Moriarty at the center. Every murder connects to a purpose by the master planner. Holmes insults his best friend's "heinous striped scarf, clearly one of your fiancée's earlier efforts." Watson is to wed Mary (Kelly Reilly) tomorrow. This is their "last adventure."

I'd forgotten the humor and banter. "How many times will you kill my dog?" Gladstone has little pulse until Holmes administers an adrenaline shot, and hands another needlefull "for a wedding present" to Watson. Remember this. Landlady and housekeeper Mrs Hudson (Geraldine James) does not want to feed the snake or worm the goat. Forget that.

Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) joins them. To avert a global crisis, his next stop will be Reichenbach Falls, like Doyle. He calls his sibling "Sherly." Holmes forgot to organize the stag party, to invite any of Watson's friends.

Holmes delivers the stolen letter to its designated recipient, fortune teller Sim (Noomi Rapace). The farewell from her brother Rene (Laurence Possa) is the price he must pay "to change the course of history." An acrobatic Cossack waits to kill them both, but Holmes prefers living informants. Fight, chase through club, more fights. Holmes tosses Mary from a her train honeymoon to Mycroft in the river below, for her safety. Terrific fight against troops explodes train cars.

Only Colonel Moran (Paul Anderson), from Watson's Afghanistan regiment, could have taken a tricky fatal shot, such that Moriarty could buy the victim's gun factory. To detour closed borders between France and Germany, Sim supplies gypsy disguises, and escorts them through woods (slightly more green color). But Holmes refuses to ride a horse "dangerous at both ends and crafty in the middle. Why would I want anything with a mind of its own bobbing about between my legs?"



At the gun factory, Moriarty traps and tortures Holmes, but Watson shoots a tower down to fall on them. Sim leads them through the forest in a preview, bullets smash all round. "Let's introduce them to Little Hansel. The photography freezes them amid the explosion. German shouts make everything worse. Their ranks dwindle. "He's not breathing." Watson is a doctor.

At the upcoming Peace Conference, Moriarty sends Rene to shoot one of the ambassadors, probably standing still for their group photograph in half an hour. "If we can find him and stop him, we will perhaps not only save his life, but prevent the collapse of Western civilization. No pressure." Mountains, castle, ballroom. Time for a dance. Bruised, scratched, he looks real.

I didn't see "twins" before, do I have to watch all over again? Holmes observed that one did not go to the aid of the other. Puckered scars indicate surgical experiments, by the Doctor from the auction. Despite operations to make Rene resemble one of the six ambassadors, Watson and Sim must identify her brother. Moran slips away while Rene dies from a curare dart.

When we see waterfalls below Holmes and Moriarty's chess game, one result is inevitable. Holmes stole the red notebook with the record of Moriarty's empire, so Mary in London could translate Moriarty's code and engineer the theft of all the villain's money. In the name of oblivious Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), the entire amount would be donated to a Widow's and Orphan's Fund. Of course, Watson reaches the balcony in time for Holmes to give a last glance before he falls.

Some time later, after Watson types "The End" on his manuscript, he unwraps a box containing Mycroft's oxygen tube, When he rushes out to ask Mary who delivered the package, Holmes emerges from hiding and adds "?" after "The End?" The end credits transform film shots into black and white book drawings, so dancers swirling on checkered ballroom tiles look like a chess board in action.



1 Sherlock & Watson chemistry Actors feel as well partnered as their roles, best pals. Set in #1 film, so easier, deeper now. Rehearsals at Robert's house before shooting increased their interpersonal comfort level.

2 Moriarty master plan Genius. As in Doyle, academic. unlikely villlain. Cast little known actor. Parodied by Mkike Myers' Dr Evil. No monologues about plan. equals Holmes. Chess metaphor. Both stimulated, need each other. Chess advisor, technical advisor. Sacrifice queen for checkmate. 1966 Bent Larson game. Set in 1890, when players did commonly move pieces in head, without board. Perhaps Doyle did not have chess in books because he did not play himself.

3 Holmsavision on steroids Like #1, we see slow-motion rehearsal in Holmes' head, of fight moves, marries brain with body. Unique. We see foils, failures, counters. Moriarty, dark, matches moves, has "fight vision" too. No stunt guys, really make contact. More than #1.

Previews: Anti-smoking ad Blu-ray ad, Wrath of the Titans, Rock of Ages (Russell Brand, Tom Cruise - lots of skimpy dancing female legs), Sherlock Season 2

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