Friday, December 16, 2011

Action sequence

I just saw
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
It was SO much better than the first one, I don't even know where to begin. The first one wasn't bad - visually stunning, though I could take or leave the story. This one is my kind of movie storytelling! A villain whose motivations make sense, women who don't wait around to be rescued, great characters playing off each other, gorgeous steampunky elements. This is worth seeing for the action sequences alone.

On the other hand, my husband, who was eager to see it, didn't think it was better than the first one, and thought everything in Game of Shadows had been played up to attract a specific subset of American movie-goers (I disagreed, but we're assimilated Americans from different continents, so we always come at such things from opposing viewpoints). YMMV.

I loved everything about it, except my biggest complaint about all the Sherlock Holmes stories I've tried - he always solves crimes based on things no one bothered to mention or focus on earlier in the story. But the awesome movie led me to look up a bunch of stuff.

First, Guy Ritchie. I've seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and half of Snatch - brilliant, but just too violent for me. That's something I really like about his Sherlock Holmes movies - as the violence is going on, you're hearing Holmes's clinical breakdown of the fight moves, like he's delivering a chess match play-by-play. It's used to better effect in Game of Shadows than in the first one, though explaining how might be a bit spoilery (I've seen the explanation in other reviews, though).

I also love what they've done with the, complicated relationship between Holmes and Watson. This movie wasn't written with the assumption that the entire audience would be straight males dragging along reluctant girlfriends who would rather be at a chick flick. There's no gratuituous female nudity (though there is one hilarious scene where we see more of Stephen Fry than I'd expected), and no weak romantic subplot, either. Actually, no romance at all. Just delightful give and take between Holmes and Watson.

After reading an interview where they asked Guy Ritchie about the "even more overt man-love" between Holmes and Watson, and his response that he got that from the books, I thought, "Hmm." I remember fighting my way through two chapters of The Hound of the Baskervilles before giving up and immersing myself in The Elfstones of Shannara instead. I was also eleven years old. Which is not to say eleven-year-olds can't appreciate Sherlock Holmes. Just that at that age I wasn't likely to give a classic a chance to get interesting if it didn't grab me immediately. Incidentally, I'm even less likely to now, but my tastes have changed, somewhat.

I digress. I went looking for articles and found out that Holmes of the books was indeed a martial-arts-employing ass-kicker, something I'd assumed had been invented for the movies. And if that was true to canon, what else was?

So now I'm giving the Sherlock Holmes stories another shot. Maybe I'll get more out of them this time. I also plan to at least try every movie with a script written by Kieran and Michele Mulroney. This movie had so many great lines, though the only two I remember right now are "They spared every expense," and "satanic ponies" (which again, my husband doesn't think is funny at all, but which is so incongruous I can't stop smiling over it). The last script that interested me enough to look up the creator was Firefly. I'll blog about that once I get over it being canceled.

Here's a BBC article about how the story in the movie came together...

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