So over Christmas break me and my family decided to go to the movies, and lo and behold, we all were interested in seeing the same film: Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows. (This doesn’t happen very often.)
So I didn’t recall much of the original movie but it wasn’t really necessary for seeing this one. And now that it’s been three weeks since I saw this one, I don’t remember all the things about this one either. But I remember the things I liked and didn’t like, so here goes:
Things I liked:
- Badass chicks. Specifically Mary Watson and Simza. Mary pulls a gun on an attacker at one point and calmly instructs her husband to toss him from their honeymoon car on a moving train, which the attacker has just invaded. Simza is a gypsy girl who helps John and Sherlock catch Moriarty, the bad guy, and takes no shit from the two.
- The overwhelming steampunkiness of the whole movie. I’m not super into the steampunk scene, but it looked really cool and was a viable excuse for having machine guns and shiny nearly-magic machinery.
- Sherlock and his pony. (I laughed for literally that entire scene.)
Things I was not so sure about:
- Holmes and Watson’s bad romance. I feel like I’m in a unique place as a slasher in that I see all of the incredibly homoerotic scenes they threw in (the two ballroom dance in a room full of dignitaries,Watson pins Holmes down on the floor and Holmes wraps his legs around John’s back while they wrestle…) but feel that they were thrown in there for the squee value of the millions of slashers who shipped H/W after the first movie. The two didn’t actually have any sexual tension to me; they just seemed like very close platonic friends. So I felt the gayness was a little awkward. And hey-o ballroom dancing boys? Your movie was set around the same time they threw Oscar Wilde in jail for ‘indecency’, aka the ‘mental illness’ of homosexuality. If they were gonna be for realzies gay they would not be flouting it around strangers.
- The Shymalan-esque tweest to the ending – I know they had to keep Sherlock alive because this is a profitable franchise, but I really wish that some director somewhere would have the guts to kill their hero off. And the pass-off of Mycroft’s deus ex machina rebreather was done so nonchalantly (and never expllicitly explained) that I was surprised I caught it, and I was paying very close attention.
- I don’t know enough about actual Romani culture to say whether the Gypsies’ portrayal was tokeny, but It felt tokeny. I don’t want to call racism where there’s not, but…
Things I definitely didn’t like:
- The deductions were very fast-paced and sometimes I was not sure why or how the whole plot fit together.
- Sherlock is too badass. I know that sounds silly, but they took the random mention that Sherlock boxed in school from the books and ran much further with it than they ought to have been allowed to do. The burly brains-before-brawn-but-still-brawn Sherlock of Ritchie’s movies doesn’t resonate with my idea of Holmes the way the BBC’s thin, erudite, brains-and-Watson-is-brawn Sherlock does.
- SPOILER ALERT: They kill off badass Irene Adler in the first half hour of the movie after diminishing her whole character down to ‘My-love-for-Sherlock-is-a-weakness’, and in what I believe was her second scene.
- I’ve read a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories in my days, and I know that Moriarty is Sherlock’s perfect match/rival in intelligence, and that it’s fun for writers to set traps of which he is the ultimate mastermind. But I really wish that they hadn’t jumped to Moriarty immediately for the plot of the second movie. There are so many more stories and villains to choose from, and not even all of them are racist. (Protip: A bunch of them are.)
- I know that Moriarty is supposed to be a professor and everything, but I didn’t like that Holmes was able to just walk into his office and converse with him. Holmes is pretty freaking intelligent, and I know he likes the amoral thrill of the game between the two of them, but I sort of wanted him to just walk in there and shoot Moriarty and cover up the evidence and be done with it.
- I know the whole point of steampunk is to mix the futuristic with the past, but the drastic plastic surgery they did to Simza’s brother’s face made it hard to suspend my disbelief. For one thing, the story is set in 1891. Penicillin was discovered in 1928. If the guy didn’t die from the pain of having his entire facial musculature rearranged, I feel like he would have died of infection. Sorry to be a debbie downer, but thems the breaks.
There are a few reasons you want to see a movie a second time. Some movies are just so good you want to experience them again. Some are really good and you want to see them again to pick out all the little things you missed before (a la Inception). But I left this movie wanting to see it again because I really felt like if I saw it again I’d be able to follow what was going on this time. I really don’t think movies should need a practice run to understand the plot, so I’m not really keen on recommending this movie to other people.