Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (**/*****)
There is usually something negative to be said about a movie that sets itself up for a sequel. Then, there is almost always something negative to be said about a sequel that sets itself up for another sequel, as is the case with Guy Ritchie’s most recent effort “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.” I’m not the guy that’s going to spoil the ending for you, but you can bet your life on the fact that Downey is going to be back for another Warner Brothers-endorsed paycheck for the high-grossing series.
Considering Ritchie’s repertoire of films containing his own avant-garde action-packed style, anybody with half a brain knows exactly what this film will be: Nothing special, just a bunch of big-budget explosions and some halfway witty one-liners. Yes, it’s going to make money and, yes, I am so surprised that Downey wasn’t nominated (again) for Best Actor in a Leading Role by the Golden Globes awards. But, in all seriousness and sincerity, where is the substance, Guy? Pun intended…
In this subpar sequel, Sherlock Holmes (again played by Downey) and Dr. Watson (an uninteresting Jude Law, again) attempt to stop the classic Holmes nemesis Dr. James Moriarty (Jared Harris), a world-renown mathematician, from starting the First World War years before it actually happened. Luckily for the viewer, the useless Rachel McAdams only returns shortly in the sequel before dying of tuberculosis (Is there any point to her existence besides being something to look at?). After this happens, Holmes attends Dr. Watson’s wedding and then abruptly stops the beginning of his honeymoon by fighting off a bunch of seemingly random attackers during an epic train ride. They aren’t, in fact, random, as they are there to stop Holmes and Watson from finding out about and stopping Moriarty. From there comes the typical cat-and-mouse chase, with an evasive and sharp-shooting Holmes often foolishly disguising himself alongside his trustworthy partner Watson to save the world.
The abundance of foreshadowing combined many typical Holmesian explanations leads to the obvious: That Guy Ritchie is just another Hollywood director that assumes every single one of his viewers is stupid. Nothing at all is left for the viewer to decipher or assume, as everything is blatantly explained so that a 5 year old can potentially understand. With that said, the abundance of the film is fairly well shot, save the edited sequences which cut every half a second because Downey probably can’t fight the way Sherlock was supposed to. In playing Holmes, Downey tries to be witty, something he hasn’t really succeeded at doing since “Iron Man” in 2008.
Downey’s hot name combined with surgical experiments meant to awe the audience, big budget explosions and a fascination with elegance and royalty do almost nothing to save this fake period piece. The film tries to be operatic, which just doesn’t work with Ritchie’s “this looks so cool!” slow motion sequences. Something rather negative should be said when the characters of a movie are clearly smarter than their directors, which is the case here. Sherlock Holmes was written to be a pretty smart guy, obviously smarter than the Guy who’s been releasing trash since “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in 1998.
Originally published on: thesuffolkvoice.net
James Bobin’s “The Muppets” (**/*****)
Who can hate on the Muppets? They’re an ordinary, simple group of puppets primarily used to entertain and educate children. They’ve starred in “Sesame Street” and have been around for 50+ years thanks to creator Jim Henson. Having died 20 years ago, I feel that Henson would cringe in his grave if he saw the hodgepodge of a movie called “The Muppets” released in 2011 that movie “star” Jason Segal co-wrote and acted in, now in theaters across the country.
This is the first theatrical release for the Muppets in 11 years, since “Muppets in Space.” In these years, the Muppets have fallen out of popularity, and one of their few remaining loyal fans is a muppet lookalike named Walter. Walter’s human brother Gary (played atrociously by Segal) and his girlfriend Mary (an equally horrendous Amy Adams) decide to go to Hollywood for their anniversary, bringing Walter along with them so he can visit the original Muppets Studio.
Upon their arrival and to their dismay, the studio is dusty and worn out. It clearly is not producing any films or TV shows anymore. During their visit, Walter overhears oil conglomerate Tex Richman (played by a sometimes rapping and singing Chris Cooper) planning to buy the old Muppets studio and tear it down because there is oil underneath it. Of course Richman isn’t telling the Muppets that this is actually what he’s using their old studio for, but Walter finds Kermit and informs him that this is in fact Richman’s plan.
From there comes a “Blues Brothers”-esque “Bringing the band back together” film, where Kermit and Walter round up Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Beaker & co. to perform one last shown in the old Muppet Theater so they can raise 10 million dollars to buy their old studio back. It was even similar to “The Blues Brothers” in the sense that during their first performance they weren’t immediately able to please the crowd, basically improvising until they perfected their original routine.
Cameos by Jack Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Selena Gomez and others provide some fresh faces in a rather rotten, overused story. However, they cannot bring the film above its irredeemable fault, which is the acting of the human non-cameo stars. The love life between Gary and Mary is similar to that an middle school boyfriend and girlfriend. Neither of them seem to have real feelings for each other (or other humans in general), as Gary completely forgets about the day of their anniversary while helping to launch the Muppets’ show. They kiss each other on the cheek and don’t seem to bet made happier by the presence of each other. The whole reason that they seem to be in the film is to subtly teach children that everyone is equal (even if they’re a Muppet), and you can interact with and help whomever you please.
These characteristics of the main characters are directly related to Jason Segal’s pompous writing, as he receives credit for writing the screenplay for this film while Jim Henson deservingly gets credit for writing the Muppet characters. As convincing as each of the individual Muppet performances were, Segal and Amy Adams still hold the movie back an absurd amount. Their poor and amateur attempt at appealing to all audiences comes off as horrifically morbid acting. Director James Bobin should stick with TV shows, as he has previously directed “The Flight of the Conchords” and “Da Ali G Show” series, instead of teaming up with a (to be short-lived) big name like Jason Segal.
In Hollywood, though, money is money, and anything with the Muppets’ name attached to it is guaranteed some sore of lucrativeness. If you’re bringing your toddlers to the movies, I guess you can’t do too much worse than “The Muppets,” but at this time of year there’s always going to be a better option at the theater than this Segal-influenced elementarily simplistic trash.
Originally published on: thesuffolkvoice.net