You Can Do It, But Should You?
Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows” is an uneasy mix of modern technique and literary material that’s alternately whimsical and heavy-handed, clever and inane, suspenseful or deadly dull. Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) are ending their long association, at least as far as detection goes. Watson’s getting married, and Holmes is obsessed with tracking the nefarious activities of his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). But Holmes finds himself in the middle of a sinister and fiendish plot, hatched by Moriarty, to take over the means of producing the weapons of war, and then cause a war to break out. And, being Holmes, he drags Watson into it, disrupting his honeymoon and quite literally throwing Mrs. Watson (Kelly Reilly) off the train...where she lands in a river and is picked up by Mycroft Holmes (Steven Fry) messing around in a row boat. The story is fairly tangled and isn’t all that interesting. It fulfills its purpose, though, which is to keep the action sequences coming. Memo to Hollywood: Enough with the video game stuff already. We know that you can make the room spin around. We know the characters can flip backwards and deliver a kung fu kick straight to the bad guy’s thorax. We know you can show the insides of the machinery clacking and clicking, the flame rushing along the inside of the gun barrel.We know that you can stop the figures running through the forest and show how the bullet nicks the tree and just barely misses them. But here’s the thing. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.All that choppy, hallucinatory editing doesn’t distract from the fact that the opening fight scene continues in the great B-movie tradition, where the bad guys bunch together to attack the hero. The chase through the forest is delayed by interminable Super Duper Slo-Mo frippery. For some reason, Ritchie kept the effects guys away from the scene that shows most of Fry’s rear end. They’d have been useful there. This particular scene also qualifies “Sherlock 2” as a horror film. Hahaha. What “Sherlock 2” is, essentially, is an extended video game session with moments of movie tossed in. Some of it’s good, some of it isn’t, but it’s all a set-up for the next round of video game hooey. Ironically, the two most effective special effects gags that bracket the film — Holmes’ “urban camouflage” — are decidedly low-tech. “Sherlock 2” is loud, noisy, and semi-pointless. The occasional bright spots come from Downey, who is always fun to watch, and Harris’ genuinely creepy Moriarty. The scene in the ballroom, with Watson trying to identify the assassin, is pretty good as far as tension goes. But the screenwriters have Mycroft calling his brother “Shirley,” which might have been funny one time, but not four. And that’s typical of this over-long, uneven film. “Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows” is playing at The Moviehouse in Millerton, NY, and elsewhere. It is rated PG-13 for violence, action and some drugs.