arkster: Robin giving you the side-eye. (Robin - Surely you jest!)
[personal profile] arkster
What did I just watch? I just. I don't even. I'm not really sure. Let's make this a Cracked article.

SEVEN WTF MOMENTS

1. Yellowface. Sherlock the Chinaman for no good reason except they wanted him to have an oldschool Chinaman beard and mustache apparently? There wasn't any plot justification for it (note: any explicit justification would have only been more problematic) it was just there as a throwaway joke. And why is it funny? Why did anyone think it was funny. Seriously, who was minister of HUMOR for this movie, and can they be fired? Retroactively?

2. Fridging Irene before the opening title even goes up. Really? Irene is supposed to be the one fox who can run rings around Sherlock but she never really did; in the first movie they told us she was wily and showed us Sherlock outsmarting her instead. In this one she doesn't even get a sleeping-potion-injected-in-the-wine moment; she fails to do anything for or against Sherlock and fails to do anything for or against Moriarty and then dies. Prettily. No particular reason for her to be working for Moriarty, either; she's not smart enough to know that after movie 1 her one chance was already used up? How unlike what they told us of her.

3. Why So Serious, Watson? Aside from the total anachronism of the lipstick-in-a-tube, the crossdressing was, again, completely unnecessary. There was no plot reason for Sherlock to be ~a woman~ for the train scene, it was just played for laughs. Oh, that wacky Sherlock! Putting on thick bright blue eyeshadow and lipstick that gets to be smeared just right to pay homage(?) or possibly mock(?) Heath Ledger's Joker. (This was very distracting. I couldn't stop staring.) Who needs actual jokes? A man dressing up as a woman is funny by itself, right!?

4. Naked Stephen Fry in his third scene. Again we have a thing that is presented by itself as funny, with neither backing nor continuation. There were no running jokes in this movie, only scene-long gags that did not stand on their own and did not bear elaboration. Oh hey, it's Stephen Fry again and this time he's naked. Mary Watson, married woman circa 1891, is embarrassed and flustered. That's it, that's the scene, nothing even advanced the plot around this thing I'm not even sure would've passed for a sketch on Fry & Laurie in the eighties.

5. Fat Pony. Long rolling vistas of France-to-Germany a la Lord of the Rings, which is definitely a mock and not a homage because Fat Pony. Long, long scenes of Sherlock bouncing across the landscape and then they leave the horses behind and nobody cares. For a movie whose villain continually promises "no loose ends," they sure do leave a lot strewn about the European landscape.

6. Torture via Giant Fishhook. What the hell is this, Frank Miller's The Dark Holmes Rises? Since when is Sherlock Holmes so goddamn grimdark with bloody gore and gory blood? Since when is Moriarty so physical? Why didn't he lure Sherlock in with more nearly-true clues, the way he did in Paris, instead of chloroforming him at gunpoint and hanging him on a hook, of all the blunt-instrument methods. It plays out like the scene in the first Daniel Craig Bond movie, when they strip Bond naked and whip him in the nethers, the one you blocked out until I reminded you of it just now. Yeah. You're welcome.

7. Suddenly, We're In A War Movie! Look at all our modern wartech! Check out our machine-loading pistols! We won't even use them later! Let's get Watson to fire some heavy artillery! SUDDENLY RUNNING THROUGH THE WOODS BEING SHELLED. Dramatic slow-mo bullets! MORE dramatic slow-mo bullets! DRAMATIC SLOW-MO BOMBS. Dramatic almost-fridging of female character #2! DRAMATIC TRAIN, for the second time this movie.

There were all sorts of other inevitabilities that I guess I'm just too humorless-feminist to enjoy anymore, like the inevitable Bechdel failure or defenestrating Mary for ho-yay or the Romani stereotypes or the screaming German screaming, but these things were internally consistent with the plot + the source material. So they weren't WTF; they were sigh, fine, let's get on with.
 
FIVE COOL BITS

1. Urban Camoflauge. Watson discovers that without him, 221B Baker Street is a cross between a rainforest and the Question's conspiracy lair. Sherlock drinks formaldehyde, which is sufficiently horrifying in lieu of heroin or cocaine. Delightfully Holmesian pseudoscientific fun ensues.

2. Happily Gay Mycroft. Surrounding himself with boys at the club; being charming to Mary even though he somehow had to do it naked; lounging back with his preferred company at the summit. Stephen Fry is a charming gay man in the middle of our 1890s detective fantasy, once again proving that the white men get all the fun.

3. Moriarty Fooling Holmes. We see the whole Parisian sequence from Holmes's viewpoint so we see him led astray, and the movie even lets us glimpse the ruse before Sherlock does so we get to feel smug. For that scene, at least, we feel that Moriarty really is a worthy villain and we're getting treated to real brilliance on both sides.

4. Suddenly, Robert Downey Jr as Jet Li! I actually really liked that psychically-predicting-the-final-battle sequence. It was giggly, in ways that I'm not certain it was meant to be, but it was also just artsy enough to be a real homage to Hero instead of a total mock like Fat Pony or a TOO SOON like the Heath Ledger thing.

5. Holmes Taunting Moriarty. The notebook gloat at the end was very well-executed; Sherlock's entire final salvo was all the brilliance of the first movie back again.


So, final word.

Everything they kept from the first movie: awesome.

Nearly everything they cribbed from other movies, genres and tropes: not so awesome, also, waste of time. I think there was maybe an hour of Sherlock Holmes Movie in my 130-minute Sherlock Holmes movie. 90 minutes, tops. The rest was Sherlock Holmes... starring In Something Else.
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Arkster

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