I love sequels. No, really. I do. Theres nothing I love more than for some corporate stooge to charge me extortionate amounts of money to see the same film I first saw two years ago over again, with the only differences being the title of the film, the details on the poster and the payroll journalists comments in the trailer going from Mind blowing! to More mind blowing than the first one! However something got to me about Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows
, it may have been the plodding narrative, the hilariously hollow plot or humour so drainingly underwhelming that an eternity of Jason Manford gigs tickle my comedic fancy more. Therefore, under request from the weeping cinemagoers who anticipate a 3rd Sherlock Holmes (ok, this may be a lie, no-one asked me to do this) I thought I would give the producers a checklist of things to improve on for the threequel. Buckle up; this is world changing stuff right here.
1. Speed it up!
When people have asked me about the second one in relation to the first Ive done a direct comparison between how the films start. The first starts with a carriage hurtling down a bumpy London street with purpose, pace and a startling disregard for the safety of pedestrians (all in all, its very juicy). The second starts with the opening pages of a book, with little purpose, no pace and a regard for pedestrians safety so strong I feel like Im preparing myself to watch a film about the dangers of Lollipop ladies in an upper middle class suburb. This is a recurring theme throughout A Game of Shadows, where the first one was packed with pace and moved with great purpose towards its ending, the second plods through sequence by sequence with inescapable air of scriptwriters with a story, but with a brief to throw in as many set pieces as they can.
2. Give it a less hollow narrative
For those unaware, A Game of Shadows follows on from the first (well, kind of) and has Holmes chasing the now not so mysterious Dr. Moriarty across Europe as he, in possibly one of the most haphazardly handled plot developments since the Wachowski's said Yes. Yes I think two more Matrix movies will be worthwhile!, swindles his way into arms dealership and escalates tensions between Germany and France so that he can make a swift buck in the process. Despite being a poor advertisement for the nature of capitalists it also leaves the aim of the story feeling a little dispiriting, Holmes (SPOILER ALERT
) successfully averts a World War by preventing the assassination of a high ranking political official. Brilliant! Well done Holmes! World War in 1891 is thoroughly prevented! ...Oh. One happens in 1914? When the armies of Europe have managed to stockpile better weapons to kill each other with, and inherently more men died? Hmm. I somehow think you preventing this war did the world a disservice Holmes. Youre a bit of a bastard arent you? Just allowing more men to die after Europe has given itself more equipment to kill each other with? Well arent you a saint.
3. Stop trying to be a modern action jet-setting film
Pardon me for criticising 19th century forms of transportation however when the cross continent traipsing begins and Guy Ritchie trys to manipulate a plodding narrative into a 21st century action jet-setter of James Bond like proportions you cant help but stifle a snort. Ritchie fills his helicopter, greases the hinges on his panoramic camera and starts darting around the channel trying to inject some majesty into the dull narrative, however it is difficult to buy into the speed of the chase when theyre travelling in a steamer vessel moving slower than a no legged dog in quick sand. The shots of the White Cliffs of Dover dont help the rather difficult to chew scene, as for a British audience they have been drilled into our minds to the point where we cease to be impressed and start fixating on our Year 10 Geography lessons about whether coastal erosion will become a serious difficulty for local businesses geared towards the 6 week tourist market.
4. Less slow motion
Its strange really, a film that starts as quickly as the head procrastinator of the procrastinator society making a decision about whether to go to the Sometimes annual, mainly every now and then procrastinators luncheon, gets slower as Ritchie peppers the film, potentially, more outstanding action sequences with slow motion so desperately drawn out and recurring that by the 50th time youve seen a bullet rip through a tree in slow motion you are compelled to either A. Scream. B. Walk out. C. Join a society of tree protectors for the prevention of bullet harm to trees. All in all the sequence is galling and sucks the life out one of the films better sequences.
5. All in all, be less sequel-y
Its a shame, the first film was fresh, funny, pacey and original when the second was none of those, because it tried to be the first one all over again. There were no new additions to the characters or the style of narrative, it is very much a lazy rehash of the first trying to get by on Robert Downey Jr.s best impression of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, but instead just ends up doing an impression of Robert Downey Jr. with a British accent so charicatured it feels like his voice coach was one of the creators of South Park. Sequels make a lot of money on pitching to the unimaginative cinema goer who likes familiarity, but even this drags. Because this is to unimaginative, its too familiar. At the end of the day, its too much of a sequel.