“Apologies, Mr. Holmes, for summoning you like this. I’m sure it’s quite a mystery as to where you are and who I am.”
“As to where I am: I was, admittedly, lost for a moment, between Charing Cross and Holborn, but I was saved by the bread shop on Saffron Hill. The only baker to use a certain French glaze on their loaves – a Brittany sage. After that, the carriage forked left, then right, and then the tell-tale bump at the Fleet Conduit. And as to who you are, that took every ounce of my not-inconsiderable experience. The letters on your desk were addressed to a Sir Thomas Rotherham. Lord Chief Justice; that would be the official title. Who you really are is, of course, another matter entirely. Judging by the sacred ox on your ring, you’re the secret head of the Temple of the Four Orders in whose headquarters we now sit, located on the northwest corner of St. James Square, I think. As to the mystery, the only mystery is why you bothered to blindfold me at all.”
– Sir Thomas and Sherlock Holmes
I think the above quote (if you took the time to read it; which, let’s be honest, you probably didn’t) is a perfect example of why the first Sherlock Holmes movie in the Robert Downey, Jr. franchise is infinitely better than the second.
To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the first movie back when I saw it in theaters three years ago. Call me slow, but I had a hard time understanding some of the rapid-fire British accents. I missed some of the witty dialogue and explanations (which, trust me, there were plenty of both).
The second time, I found that subtitles lifted the movie to a new level. Seeing all of the dialogue made me realize how cleverly it was crafted, and just how well-made of a film it was.
I suppose that’s the thing I like most about it, in a nutshell: the quality. This movie has great re-watching value, and not just because it’s a mystery. All of the action, events, dialogue and situations are tightly woven together.
And of course, who doesn’t love Robert Downey, Jr.? He demonstrates his skills as an actor by flawlessly giving the titular character a personality we can’t help but love, highlighting the character from the books while showing off his own unique humor.
There are extra Holmes-esque touches added to the story that were quite clever, such as his explanations of fights and the integration of some original Holmes quotes. All of this, when carried by the all-star cast, it’s an adventure I personally am happy to see again and again, even today.
And then, there’s the sequel.
Okay, I’m still trying to sort out my feelings about Game of Shadows. My initial impression was that it was great, but not as good as the first one. That’s more or less true today, though it’s still hard for me to pin an official opinion on it. I liked the opening and loved the finale. I also enjoyed the Holmes/Moriarity scenes.
But, sadly, the second one had too many flaws for me to put it on my ‘favorites’ list. Holmes’ fight explanations are diminished. There is no actual mystery to be solved. The middle is kind of pointless. And yet, all of this might have been forgivable if only (spoiler alert) Irene Adler, played by the brilliant Rachel McAdams, wasn’t axed before the opening titles.
That, producers, was a mistake. And replacing her with some random gypsy lady didn’t earn you any points in my book.
But, I am hopeful about Sherlock Holmes 3, which is currently being drafted by the same screenwriter who wrote Iron Man 3. And if only they could bring back Irene Adler—which is entirely possible, since we never actually saw her die—they would have, I think, a hit on their hands better than the second.
In conclusion: the Sherlock Holmes franchise reboot is done in all the right ways, with top-notch actors, clever plotting, and (in the case of the first movie), ineffably witty dialogue. Even if the sequel doesn’t do much for you, the first one has few faults and is worth re-watching time and again.
Rate: 8 out of 10.