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Friday, December 30, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows



In Sherlock Holmes and the Curious Case of Dr. Watson's Insistence on Heterosexual Monogamy, re-titled (one presumes) Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows for marketing suitability, the Great Detective is hot on the trail of his greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty. The only thing distracting Holmes from uncovering Moriarty's dastardly plot to instigate a war via an assassination at a peace summit in Switzerland is his sidekick Watson's insistence on getting married and going on his honeymoon with his wife. In the first of two supercharged confrontations, Moriarty helpfully combines Holmes' two agendas by threatening the well being of Watson and his bride. This sparks Holmes' fabled powers of deduction, fighting prowess, derring-do, and propensity for cross-dressing like Bugs Bunny to go on a Europe-wide manhunt to stop Moriarty from carrying out his nefarious scheme. As Holmes, the cleverest man alive, Robert Downey Jr. once again chews his non-existent deerstalker hat, while Jude Law as Watson again attempts some reasonable form of restraint while failing to restrain Holmes. Their bromance - hold the B - continues with aplomb. In a shocking but welcome twist, the weakest aspect of the prior Sherlock Holmes, Rachel McAdams, is bumped off -- she's replaced as The Woman in the Movie by Noomi Rapace, the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, who plays a wide-eyed gypsy regularly confounded by Holmes and seemingly out of her depth in a Guy Richie film. Also - ahem - cheekily along for the ride is Stephen Fry as Sherlock's fey brother Mycroft Holmes. Holmes and Watson's bludgeoningly madcap adventures eventually give way to a crackling third act where Holmes and Moriarty mentally and physically match wits in Switzerland, with a terrific conclusion invoking the demise of Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel. The Holmes vs. Moriarty battle is worth the wait. Jared Harris, most famously of Mad Men, makes for a splendidly sinister Moriarty, every bit the equal of Downey's formidable Holmes. The only thing that could have improved upon Moriarty's game of shadows with Holmes would be if he'd taken Holmes to the Playboy Club to meet his chocolate bunny.