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Sunday, 20 April 2014

From Pete's World: "Sherlock Holmes" and "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"

Even though I saw the fantastic Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes (which was when it came out) before I saw him in Iron Man (which was less than a month ago), to a certain extent I can't help but see the RDJ Sherlock movies as Tony Stark a having created time travel. But then again, there's a lot I chalk up to time travel these days.

The RDJ Sherlock movies are possibly better than both Elementary and Sherlock and it must be said that it did come out before either of those series started, having been released Christmas day in 2009 (Yes, the day we began to loose David...) They are set in the Victorian era, as per the original novels/short stories. The costuming is superb, as is the set design. Musically, the score is very similar to Sherlock, which I like.

The dynamic between Holmes and Watson (Jude Law) is the main development point in the first film, although the plot is captivating as well. Also introduced in the first move are Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), Mary Morston/Watson (Kelly Reilley), DI Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), and at they very end, Moriarty (Jared Harris).

Moriarty is the main focus of A Game of Shadows, and the ending is the same as "The Reichenbach Fall," down to the point that Sherlock did, in fact, survive. Unlike Sherlock, there has been no third instalment, although Jude Law has confirmed another one!

What the two films do masterfully is not model the books. They borrow the characters and their dynamics, and certain story elements like the "death" of Sherlock and Moriarty in the Reichenbach, but, as far I can tell, the plot lines are not directly modelled off the novels/short stories, as the plots are in Sherlock and to a certain extent Elementary are. What this does is makes it so that even if you know the original canon, you can't predict the resolution of the plot. The element is mystery is still there while you can enjoy the chemistry between the characters.

Comedy is also excellently executed in both films, even though they both have very serious, dramatic elements. One of the running jokes, so to speak, is that Holmes keeps experimenting on Gladstone, the dog Sherlock and John shared while living at 221b (the first film starts the day John moves in with Mary) and it always appears that the dog has died, where as he actually has not.

Overall, both of these films get 4.5 stars. The loss of that half star is from the fact that, in the second movie especially, there are scenes with elongated fire-fights in them, which I personally find dull and repetitive. Anyone who enjoys the ACD novels/short stories, SherlockElementary, or even that other Sherlock Holmes movie I wrote about must watch these two films!

PS. Stephen Fry is Mycroft. Enough said.

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

From Pete's World: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (2010)

Every time someone watches this movie, ACD has a seizure in his grave.

Don't confuse me saying that with me saying that it is bad, because that is not at all what I am saying. If we are to define the quality of a movie by it's ability to captivate the audience, then this film is fabulous.

This bastardisation of Sherlock Holmes has many redeeming qualities, and at the top of that list is the cast. Ben Synder plays an excellent Sherlock Holmes in his film debut and Gareth David-Lloyd (Torchwood, Ianto Jones) steals the show as Watson.

Staying true to ACD's canon, the piece is narrated by Watson. In this film, it is that Watson is about to die, and he dictates to a character called Miss Hudson. (In the story he narrates, the housekeeper is a Mrs Hudson, so it is unclear if this woman is her descendant or if he's confused because he is about to die). If I'm not mistaken this Miss Hudson is the same actor who played the girl Casanova told his story to in the David Tennant Casanova. It's a very analogous role.

Beyond here, I won't say anything plot wise. It's really quite a crazy story, involving a kracken, a velociraptor, an ancestor to Iron Man, a pilotable hot-air balloon, and a fire-breathing mechanical dragon who would make Smaug proud. Aside from anything beyond this being a spoiler, it is also to absurd to try to explain.

Overall, I give it 2.5 stars. Most of what is taken away is because the writers treated the iconical characters of Holmes and Watson in a way Sherlockians would call sacrilege, not to mention that they name Sherlock's brother Thorpe. Thorpe. If you're not going to call him Mycroft, okay, fine...but Thorpe? If you're someone who is in to the Sherlock Holmes aray of media, do watch this. If not, watch something else Sherlock first (like BBC's Sherlock or CBS' Elementary): this is definitely not for beginners.

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