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The second installment in the modern retell of the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries finds our favourite eccentric detective shouldering many a loss.  Most stunningly for Sherlock Holmes is the sudden, suspicious passing of an old flame.  While his other bereavement is of the bachelorhood of best mate and partner in anti-crime, Dr John Watson, who is planning to marry his longtime sweetheart despite Holmes’ many attempts to dissuade him.  All this domestic unrest occurs as the security of the world is being threatened by a madman whose intelligence can only be matched by Holmes’ own.

Rumblings of war all over Europe have made a grand summit absolutely necessary to ensure the peace of the world; an attempt to resolve the discontent across the continent.  Having all those important leaders in one place is a hazardous proposition open to anyone who would like to cause a spot of bother, which is where Professor James Moriarty comes in.  Moriarty’s scheme to assassinate the leaders and ignite a world war is a plot that can only be unearthed by Sherlock Holmes, who has been on the trail of the shady professor for some time.  Circling each other like two intellectually superior dogs, the adversaries’ enmity cranks way up after Moriarty makes it personal by murdering Holmes’ recurring flame, Irene Adler, introduced in the first film.  Once a useful spy, Irene is compromised by her proximity to Holmes, and so her master, Moriarty, eliminates her.  The professor makes it known he’s not going to stop with the disposal of just one person dear to Holmes and threatens to do same to Dr. Watson if Holmes doesn’t leave off messing with Moriarty’s plans to destroy the governments of the world.  Misjudging Holmes’ tenacity, the two engage in a deadly game of chess with a lot of physical collateral.

The bad news is that while the production values in this chapter have gone way up, we’ve still seen a lot of this movie before in the first film.  The cool effects that made the original movie so novel, like Holmes’ inner dialog planning his attacks just before they happen, is done to death here, with almost no variation to keep it fresh.  While there is bombast everywhere, it starts to feel tired as there’s not enough interaction between the characters to make the viewer care very much.  Things rush by in such a vacuum, I wonder if people who hadn’t seen the first film will even care about the relationship of Holmes and Watson?  This is unfortunate when you have the great addition of Simza, the Gypsy who also stands to lose someone precious for being too close to Moriarty.  Holmes’ acerbic brother Mycroft is also brought into this chapter and while at one point we see way too much of him, overall, it’s strangely not enough.  We never quite discover why exactly Moriarty wants to start a war and it’s a big question to answer that’s lost in the rush to get to the next action sequence.  Despite actor Jared Harris’ best efforts, Moriarty’s never quite as outwardly nuts as say, the Joker from the Dark Knight Returns, and there’s no poetic line about wanting to “watch the world burn” to explain his actions.  It’s hard even to read a bubbling-under-the-surface menace from this portrayal, so the reasoning comes across as Moriarty causing problems simply because he can and it’s an empty motivation.  The good news is that the second film is still a lot of fun and that’s mostly due to the chemistry between leads Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law as Holmes and Watson, which even while mainly retreaded, is still sparky and amusing.  Watson’s wedding, which first loomed over Holmes’ head in the original movie, is now a reality, but that’s not to say that neither the wedding nor the honeymoon will be untouched by the dejected detective.  Where Holmes goes, trouble follows, and both Watson and his new missus are pulled into the plan to stop Moriarty.  Somehow there is still some time for some Yaoi-rific homoerotic tussles between Holmes and Watson, which give some depth as to why Holmes may be reacting so poorly to his pal’s nuptials.  That scene, taking place on a speeding train as the crew is besieged by Moriarty’s cronies, is a romp.  There’s plenty of boom-crash action in the second half; some of it taking place in an actual armory with, what were at the time, new-fangled weapons of mass-destruction.  Director Guy Ritchie is a master of in-your-face-action and scenes like the chase through the forest using three-hundred-sixty-degree camera pans and sudden freeze-frames to accentuate the danger could have easily legitimised the film being made in 3D.  I hope new co-stars Stephen Fry as Mycroft (Who perpetually refers to his little bro as “Shirley”) and Noomi Rapace as the fierce, brave Simza, hang around for the prospective next chapter.  With a little more emphasis on a stronger, wittier script and a little less on the blockbuster bombast, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be one.


~ The Lady Miz Diva

Dec 16th, 2011




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