By Sarah Sluis
Allow me to play the part of the cranky critic for a moment, but the trailer for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is so lifeless, I need to kick it to its grave. It's hard to believe that a trailer so packed with action can be so boring, but it is. I was no fan of the first film. Its tenuous hold on reality translated to weak tension and suspense. The matte work was awful, too. I kept staring at the bad special effects instead of what was going on the screen. They were that distracting. Robert Downey Jr. tried to do what Johnny Depp did in the first Pirates of the Caribbean and failed. Depp was so great in the original Pirates because he jumped into this movie that was supposed to be about Orlando Bloom saving Keira Knightly, rolled his eyes, and stole the show. It's hard for Downey to do that if he's playing the actual lead. He has to play the straight man, the one who buys the movie's premise. Which is why Sherlock Holmes is one of my least favorite movies to spawn a sequel.
Top Five Reasons Game of Shadows will be a yawn to get through
1. The trailer has three scenes of Robert Downey Jr. dressed as a woman or wearing makeup. This disguise was old five minutes before it even got put in the trailer. It made me reminisce about Some Like it Hot.
2. Showing us a really cool "crime room" with lots of webs and newspaper clippings that wouldn't be out of place in Zodiac of Seven (:59), then suggesting we're getting a war film instead with rifle fights in forests and machine guns. I like mystery films. Sherlock Holmes is a detective. Can't the movie just stick to that?
3. A set piece on a train. No more trains! At least there were no scenes of them walking on top of a train...in the trailer, at least.
4. Ending with not-clever innuendo. This exchange actually works better on the page than the screen. Holmes: "Get that out of my face." Watson: "It's not in your face, it's in my hand." Holmes: "Get what's in your hand out of my face." Can you imagine how painful it will be to sit through an entire film of this?
5. Slow-motion explosions, gun loading, kicking. I'd like to point out that when this whole slo-mo thing was pioneered in The Matrix, the style supported the narrative. When people were inside the Matrix, time could be slowed down since the world was not real. Even in the movie, the slo-mo thing wasn't used in the "real world." Every movie that's used this technique since is just showing that it cares more about cool fighting than the story. #5 makes it pretty clear that Book of Shadows will be cool action sequences cobbled together by an excuse for a mystery.