Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows (2011) – A Movie Review

This sequel to the previously reviewed 2009 movie “Sherlock Holmes” has actors Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law returning as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  And Rachel McAdams, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James and Eddie Marsan also reprise their roles as, respectively, Irene Adler, Mary Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade.

The plot of this movie is once again an original story but it does add in elements from one particular Arthur Conan Doyle story namely, the “The Adventure of the Final Problem.”  This is the story in which Arthur Conan Doyle arranges the final showdown between Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty.  And this story covers what was in the written story but adds much more in the way of motivation for the duel to the death between Holmes and Moriarty.  And the writers manage to link the story to the greater reality of this time period.  They tie Moriarty’s evil plot to the actual fact that in 1900 Europe is on the precipice of World War.  The movie even has Moriarty explicitly chide Holmes with the bitter reality that even if he eliminates Moriarty, it still will not stop the coming war.

I’m happy to say that the dash and humor from the first movie are on clear display in this second film.  The camaraderie between Holmes and Watson are undiminished even after Dr. Watson finally marries Mary.  In fact, the occasion of the honeymoon provides one of the most comical scenes in the movie with Holmes dressed as a woman attempting to save the newlyweds from imminent death on a train packed with assassins.

I won’t attempt to synopsize the plot.  It would sound like nonsense and I refuse to spoil the details of the plot.  Suffice it to say that Holmes and Watson traipse across Europe attempting to catch up to the plot that Moriarty has set in motion.  And Jared Harris who portrays Professor James Moriarty is a great villain.

As with the preceding movie I have the highest praise for this film.  All the principal parts are brilliantly acted.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-made entertainment film.  And just to add an interesting note, ten years after this movie the producers have finally had the opportunity to film another sequel.  I look forward to that movie with great anticipation.

Gunga Din – An OCF Classic Movie Review

“…

So I’ll meet ’im later on

At the place where ’e is gone—

Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.

’E’ll be squattin’ on the coals

Givin’ drink to poor damned souls,

An’ I’ll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!

Yes, Din! Din! Din!

You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!

Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,

By the livin’ Gawd that made you,

You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!”

(Gunga Din by Rudyard Kipling)

 

Kipling’s poem celebrates the courage and loyalty of Indian water bearer Gunga Din.  The 1939 film builds on the bare sketch of the poem and adds in the British soldiers from Kipling’s Soldiers Three stories.  Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. portray Sergeants Cutter, MacChesney and Ballantine.  The three sergeants are comedic partners in crime constantly in trouble for their off-duty brawling and ridiculous escapades.  But they are also ferociously courageous and loyal to the British Army to their core.  And attached to the regiment that the sergeants serve in is the regimental bhisti (or water carrier), Gunga Din.  Gunga Din is also a minor partner in the sergeants’ syndicate.  He convinces Cutter that they can cart off a temple made of solid gold that’s just there for the taking.  Superimpose the sub-plot of Ballantine’s upcoming nuptials as a threat to the triumvirate and then top the whole thing off with a Thuggee Mutiny planning to drive the British out of India.

Sam Jaffe plays Gunga Din and along with the three co-stars they chew up the scenery and move the plot along smartly.  By the climax we find out why Gunga Din is a better man they are.  And we get to see the British Army (or the Hollywood version of it) unleashed on the Thugs.

The movie features a goodly amount of action adventure scenes but for me the stand out is the comedy.  The exchanges between Cary Grant (featuring his most over the top cockney accent) and Victor McLaglen are very funny and make me wish they had co-starred in other action comedies.

It goes without saying that the movie could never be made today.  It features language and plot elements that would be labelled, racist, sexist, colonialist and white supremacist.  And if they got around to it, I’m sure the critics could come up with an angle that made it homophobic and transphobic too.  But it is solid entertainment that creates a comedy adventure out of the reality of the British Raj.  Of course, this is a Hollywood fantasy version of the Raj.  In this version, the British Army is powerful and the generals are competent and all the good Indians are loyal subjects of the Queen-Empress and all the bad Indians are disloyal, murderous followers of Kali, the goddess of death.  In this version the non-commissioned officers are anxious to re-enlist every 11 years without fail.  But it’s got fight scenes, battle scenes, comedy, pathos, dynamite tossing and even an elephant-based jail break.  What else could anybody ask for.

25MAR2018 – Quote of the Day

Robert Heinlein used this poem as the inspiration of a science fiction story and included the poem in the text.

Requiem

Under the wide and starry sky

Dig the grave and let me lie:

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.

 

This be the verse you ‘grave for me:

Here he lies where he long’d to be;

Home is the sailor, home from sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

(written 1880)

Robert Louis Stevenson. 1850–1894