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Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes II

Let me start by giving this film the most entry-level (though not easily earned) piece of praise I can give a movie: I got my money's worth.

This isn't normally the kind of film I'd shell-out hard-earned money to go see in the theatre, but I've been seeing a lot of movies lately and, well, you have to see what's there and what you're on time to see.

Anyway, this is just a really fun, action-packed buddy film. Set in a sort of "steam-punk"1891 Europe, the film takes place between London, Paris, and Switzerland, as Holmes, Watson, and a female gypsy they pick up along the way, follow the infamous Professor Moriarty across the continent as he attempts to start a war. Moriarty, as it turns out, has been secretly building up a munitions factory in central Europe, with which he plans to supply the warring armies. The film turns out to be sort of a criticism of the Military-Industrial Complex which has so altered the shape of Geo-Politics in the past 70 odd years. Moriarty, it seems, was about 20 or 25 years too early...and his character even says as much at one point during the film, that war between the European powers is inevitable, and all he has to do is wait.

Most of the cerebral element of the old Arther C. Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories has been removed. There are no long, drawn-out explanations of how Holmes solves the crimes: such sequences are reduced to almost frantically choppy sequences of Holmes spotting various clues and piecing the answer together in a matter of five seconds. However, we do get some careful glimpses into Holmes' psychology later in the film as he solves the last riddle.

And, lest I forget, the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law makes this movie especially fun. Downey always brings a sort of frenetic, comedic madness to whatever he plays, and Law has a sort of dignified, innocent pluck: Downey plays the mad, eccentric, fiercely adventurous Holmes while Law plays his more even-keeled & sometimes reluctant partner in crime. Together they balance each other out in the tradition of all great Buddy Films: despite their differences in personality, the strength of their friendship makes them a great team and ultimately saves them from ruin.

And...naturally...to balance out the machismo inherent in a film with two (three, actually) big leading male roles, you need a strong female counterpart. The film definitely gets that in Naomi Rapace, who plays the wild, dark, swashbuckling gypsy whose brother has become trapped in Moriarty's scheme. Rapace (Mdm. Simza(?)) tags along with Holmes and Watson and provides--well--something nice to look at, as well as helping the boyz take down Moriarty in the end.

So...I say two thumbs up. When you shell out for a film like this, you know what to expect. Having said that, the film exceeded my expectations. Visually it had a lot to offer, with dark, quick, well-done camera work, and it was thrilling...as the series has become more of an action series than a mystery series. AND you even get the little underlying anti-war, anti-Military-Industrial Complex message. Not bad for what might otherwise get passed-off as a must-miss box office release.

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