A Game of Shadows is a fitting subtitle as watching this Sherlock Holmes flick was more like watching a hyperactive computer game drag on than watching a film. As a lover of the Holmes character and detective stories in general, this onslaught of explosions, martial arts exhibitions and flamboyant costuming all thrown together and filmed annoyed more than entertained. I found myself wishing I were watching something else and creating a mental list of better things I could be doing while watching, then a list of better screenwriters, and finally a list of actors I’d cast in my new Sherlock Holmes film. Then I started hoping they’d tie up the story as soon as possible and thinking how they could end at various points.
Since it’s entirely possible to create a new character and set him in Victorian England and make him something of an Anti-Holmes, I’d wish they’d done that. Then I wouldn’t have been duped into buy a ticket and wasting my time on this indulgence. I went knowing this would be Holmes on steroids, but I didn’t realize how steroids effect the brain in this case withering it to the size of a peanut. It’s also possible to successfully play with the tradition as Mel Brooks did with Sherlock Holmes’ Younger Brother.
Someone should tell the studios that paid for this that Sherlock isn’t Sherlock if he isn’t over the top intelligent.Downey’s Sherlock is just weird and sort of intuitive in a very anachronistic way. The way in which he’ll explain how he came to a conclusion, which work so well in the books and other films, here just fill the seconds between explosions or highly choreographed fights. This Holmes was so annoying and obnoxious. He had little that impressed or was worthy of any admiration. The real Holmes had an altruistic streak, this Holmes seems petty, it seems like his aim is only to best a rival and that he has little concern for anyone but himself, which I’d say the original stories don’t bear out at all.
The scenes reminded me of an computer game designed by the set designer at say the Lyric Opera. They were very cool, very glitzy and therefore constantly called attention to themselves rather than eventually receding to add to rather than dominate a story. The whole film seemed to be put together by a group of egoists trying to out do each other while watering down a successful tradition.
I found the themes of the evils of industrialized, commercialized war preachy and obvious adding to the tedium.
The best part was the end first I felt a sort of glee that “Yes, they are winding this down!” and the chess game scenes cutting to scenes with Watson outside worked.