Ah, sequels. One of Hollywood’s mainstays in today’s movie industry. This latest sequel is exactly what audiences should and have come to expect of a big time blockbuster. It’s a surprise it was released to theaters in December rather than the Summer movie season, as it has all the requisite flashes, bangs and booms throughout, with a touch of raunchiness thrown in for good measure. The irony is that as much as individuals may want to bash the movie–as it deserves–it’s a guilty pleasure. If not for the action, the globe hopping from the streets of London to Paris to the snowy maountaintops of another country would be enough to leave most viewers’ heads spinning. Luckily all those special effects are there, distracting viewers.
If the fast paced almost Dan Brown-esque storytelling and special effects aren’t enough trouble, there is no denying the close similarities to The League of (not so) Extraordinary Men in terms of the settings and special effects, and even the story itself. It’s almost like this story was lifted from the prior movie and altered for this sequel. Thankfully, the special features included in the DVD and blu-ray do make up for all of that.
The bonus features included on the dvd and blu-ray show a cast who didn’t merely show up and recite their lines. Rather, they seemed to be good friends who were coming together to actually make a movie. Perhaps that friendship actually helped to make the acting believeable. This adds some level of enjoyment back to the movie. It isn’t all, either. In the defense of this movie, there is also a discussion on the slow motion fight scenes included in the bonus features. It’s interesting to note that the actors actually did peform the fight scenes themselves in slow motion. The special effects were only added after the fact to enhance the scenes. And director Guy Ritchie was interviewed concerning the selection of Jared Harris for the role of Dr. Moriarty. It was nice to see that he paid attention to detail, rather than simply going for the style of Moriarty that has been used so many times before. He did make the attempt to stay true to the original villain. So kudos to him for that.
Speaking of the not so good Doctor, the bonus features even include a feature on the the showdowns between Holmes and Moriarty, including the chess scene near the movie’s end. It was interesting to learn that people would actually act as Holmes and Moriarty did in this scene. For that matter, that they would bring in a professional chess player to teach Downey and Harris about the game actually adds some credibility to the movie.
Overall, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is hardly the most memorable of major blockbusters. The reality is that while it is a guilty pleasure, it’s still enough to make audiences hopeful that Hollywood’s elite brass will one day soon finally start to take chances on real movies again, rather than rely on forgettable pieces like this.
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