This past Friday my wife and I went to go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie staring Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law, both returning to their previous roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson respectively. Jared Harris co-starred as the villain in this film, and faced the not-so-desired task of having to follow up a brilliant villainous performance by classic bad guy Mark Strong in the first movie; a task Harris fulfilled to the utmost delight of the viewer.
I have to admit that my expectations were quite high going into the movie. I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie and the previews for this one created the impression that it was going to be even better. My biggest disappointment with the first movie was the character played by Rachel McAdams, (spoiler to follow here) who they killed off early in this new movie, much to my delight (Do not get me wrong; Rachel McAdams is a great actress, but this role for whatever reason was terrible and I cannot figure out if it is because of poor writing or poor acting; in any case, the writers did themselves a figure by getting rid of her). The first two-thirds of the movie were as action-packed as one could have wished for a movie like this to be. I was on the edge of my seat during the numerous fighting scenes and was very much impressed by the camera work and effects during them. Admittedly, the last third of the movie became less exciting and many viewers will no doubt find it disappointingly dull. I, however, enjoyed the psychological and intellectual, albeit figurative, game of chess that came to a breaking point between Holmes and Moriarty (Harris) in the final scenes.
Unlike the previous Sherlock Holmes film, I did not feel that there were any weak acting performances. Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law exceeded all expectations and were surprisingly better in this film than the last (surprising not because I doubted their ability as actors, but because I felt they were so brilliant before). As mentioned earlier, Jared Harris played an incredible villain as Professor James Moriarty, a highly respected Mathematics professor and whose genius rivals that of Sherlock Holmes. The tension between the two characters was portrayed perfectly on screen and one could see the determination and desire to defeat the other in both of their faces. Stephen Fry (known to many as Deitrich in V for Vendetta) was also incredibly solid in his role as Mycroft Holmes, the politician brother of Sherlock Holmes.
Overall, the movie was excellent. As I said, the last third of the movie was a bit slow and will be a turn off to some viewers. However, I feel that these scenes serve the purpose of reminding the viewer that Sherlock Holmes is not an action hero, but rather an intellectual (albeit unusual) sleuth whose greatest weapon is his mind. Without giving away the ending, I will say they left it open for a third film, an endeavor I hope they undertake sooner rather than later. Sherlock Holmes is one of the most prominent literary figures, even among people that have not read the stories, and seeing new stories portrayed on the big screen is certainly a thrill to any aficionado of classical literature.