So this post is part one of a review special that features one film franchise, two TV shows, and one iconic character.
First up is the franchise. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. And the unique thing about these films is that they are actually set in the "correct" time period, though that does not mean they've escaped updating.
|Boom. Sherlock and Watson. They look the part, don't they?
|Oh yeah, and Irene Adler also shows up, in the form of Rachel McAdams.
Now, even though this film is set in the late 18oo's, it still feels like an updated version of Sherlock Holmes... just in every way except the date. Not that I can really use that as a flaw. I doubt anyone was trying for an authentic feel here. If they were, they would have cut back a little on the slow-motion explosions and stylized special effects. Or cast a Brit as Holmes. No, I'm pretty sure they were going for exactly what they achieved, and what they achieved is not bad, if slightly alarming when spoken aloud; Sherlock Holmes as an action star. And in that case, Downey Jr. was a great choice for the role. He's an old-fashioned Tony Stark, quipping and spurting out deductions as fast as we can take them.
And fortunately he does lots and lots of deducing. The mystery is intriguing, and a refreshing change - being a how-done-it instead of the usual who-done-it - and the plot unfolds in a fast-paced, fun style. But what I enjoy most about this version of Sherlock, is the relationship and chemistry between Holmes and Watson. And my favorite side of the duo is the good doctor's. Jude Law and his charming and classic rendition of Watson balances Downey Jr.'s more modern Holmes very nicely.
|Above: The reasons this movie worked.
And in general, the sequel, A Game of Shadows does everything the same.
But is "the same" a good thing or a bad thing? And what about that "in general" part? I'll start with that. Basically, the amount of slow-motion stylized action sequences are doubled, and some ridiculous additions are made. Like someone being thrown from a moving train, landing safely in freezing water, and not seeming to be disturbed by it that much. Or Holmes disguising himself as a woman very badly and getting away with it. Silly. They also added super-villain Moriarty, but he was ultimately underwhelming.
Now, "the same." Creatively, that spark of freshness was just a little dull. (Eh, same old, same old...) But Downey Jr. and Law together were also the same, and that is a definite good thing. (Yay, consistency!) And since they have always been the best element of the franchise, the sequel was adequate enough, and I was, for the most part, satisfied.
|Above: The reasons THIS movie worked.
To the original film, I give 3.5 stars, and to the sequel, 3.
Next up: A Sherlock Holmes television show special. Stay tuned.