Tag Archives: action

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

23 Jul

sherlock Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous literary detective is yanked out of his armchair in Baker Street for a second action-packed adventure by director Guy Ritchie. This time around, sidekick Dr Watson (Jude Law) is about to wed fiancee Mary (Kelly Reilly), and Holmes is despondent over the impending break-up of their sleuthing partnership.

However there is no time to dwell on this, as Holmes suspects that his evil nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), has masterminded a spate of crimes around Europe. When Moriarty targets Watson as his next victim, Holmes hijacks the newlyweds’ honeymoon and drags Watson away to help him solve an international intrigue.

sherlock_picThe duo’s escapades take them to exotic locations in Paris, Germany and Switzerland, as they enlist the help of mysterious gypsy Simza (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Simza’s missing brother Rene is embroiled in Moriarty’s scheme, and the detectives discover that their foe is plotting to spark a war.

Sherlock traditionalists may complain that the thoughtful deduction of the books has given way to dramatic action sequences and plenty of banter, but there is plenty of joy to be had in Guy Ritchie’s super slo-mo fight scenes. The repartee between Holmes and Watson is the other enjoyable part of Ritchie’s film, and the demure, moustachioed Law is the perfect match for Downey’s eccentric Holmes.

The gorgeous Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler departs the proceedings early on, but Stephen Fry adds a welcome touch of British humour as Holmes’ pompous brother Mycroft, especially in one scene when he walks around completely nude, to the discomfort of Watson’s wife, Mary. Meanwhile, Mary, who dared to disrupt Holmes’ happiness by marrying his sidekick, is literally knocked out of the film by Holmes in a particularly hilarious cross-dressing scene on a steam train.

With plenty of slapstick humour, a rip-roaring pace and lush Victorian atmosphere, it may not be the deerstalker-and-pipe Holmes of yore, but it makes for a delicious romp.

M, 2012, 129 mins, Warner Bros

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Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides

22 Jul

pirates_stranger The fourth chapter of this swashbuckling franchise opens with cannon blazing as the protagonists set sail for the Fountain of Youth.  

While the story is loosely based on a 1987 historical fantasy novel by Tim Powers, like its predecessors, the plot takes a back seat to Johnny Depp’s strutting eccentricity, tropical backdrops and comically choreographed swordfighting scenes. Jack Sparrow (Depp) is ordered by King George (Richard Griffiths) to guide a ship helmed by Jack’s old enemy, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to seize the Fountain of Youth before their archrivals, the Spanish. Jack dexterously escapes his duties, but winds up kidnapped by jilted ex-lover Angelica (Penelope Cruz), daughter of Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who forces Jack on board Blackbeard’s supernaturally evil vessel, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, to help them find the fountain.

The competing parties discover that their quest is not that simple – first they have to find two silver chalices on a dead Spanish explorer’s ship, get hold of a mermaid and extract a tear from her, so that when both chalices are filled with magic fountain water, the person who drinks the chalice containing a mermaid’s tear will obtain the life of the other drinker. Complicated, yes, but it does give us an excuse to go mermaid hunting, in a frankly hilarious scene in which the siren-like temptresses (led by Australian Gemma Ward) lure the sailors into a lovesick trance, before erupting in a frenzied cross between sharks and supermodels. When a beautiful, less homicidal mermaid (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) is netted, it is a race to the finish line amid a whole lot of swordplay, double-crossing and pauses for pirate puns.

As always, Johnny Depp oozes charisma, and the feisty Penelope Cruz is a welcome replacement for the aloof former Pirates heroine Keira Knightley, and the chemistry and badinage with Jack is far more convincing and fun to watch. Pirates regular Orlando Bloom is also absent, but the presence of superbly sardonic McShane (Deadwood) more than fills the void. Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago), this adventure romp is as thrilling and frothy as the theme park ride that inspired the series.

M, 2011, Disney, 136 mins