With Professor Moriarity on board as the villain, the game is afoot big time
Some fans were not happy with Guy Ritchie’s original Sherlock Holmes flick that transformed the title character from a brilliant man who used his brains to solve crimes to a full blown macho action hero who also happens to have an excellent cerebral side.
Actually, I was one of those who complained that there was too much Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and not enough Victorian milieu in Robert Downey’s Jr. first foray as the world’s most famous detective.
With Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows I’m drinking the Kool Aid, thanks in large part to the introduction of Holmes’ ultra-nemesis, Professor James Moriarity (delightfully played by Jared Harris) to the mix.
With the ultimate villain making mischief, the usual spectacular Ritchie action sequences have a stronger context. The direct Holmes-Moriarity confrontations are splendid, in particular the chess match finale.
Jude Law continues his excellent support as Watson and Stephen Fry comes on board as Holmes’ eccentric brother Mycroft. Unfortunately, the wonderful Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) wasn’t given enough to do as a gypsy woman whose brother is part of Moriarity’s plot.
That mild disappointment aside, Game of Shadows makes better use of Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes on steroids” concept.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows ***
Directed by Guy Ritchie; rated PG-13
It is catch-up time this week after I presented my favorite flicks of the year and of the decade. One of the best films on my favorites list was Oscar frontrunner Up in the Air.
If you want to see the newest entry in the Mission Impossible franchise this weekend, Ghost Protocol, your destination will be the IMAX Theater at the Tropicana. In an unusual move, the film, which also includes an extended sneak preview of the next Batman movie, has opened at IMAX locations several days before going into wide release this Tuesday, Dec. 20.
The Descendants was my favorite of 26 films viewed at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and in a year when the Oscar buzz was underwhelming coming out of the festival, Alexander Payne’s dysfunctional family dramedy earned a fair share of the acclaim.