What’s the Story?
Sherlock has been increasingly crazy-seeming since the first film as he investigates Professor Moriarty and his nefarious scheme (which Sherlock doesn’t actually know, or even work out. He just keeps stumbling onto it in action-film style).
Also, it happens to be the day before (and day of) Watson’s wedding. And instead of going on a honeymoon, Sherlock takes him away on a rollicking adventure to stop Moriarty and help avert a world war.
What’s the Problem?
Not a Detective
If you didn’t know that Sherlock is supposed to be a detective, you would think he was a psychic. In the first film they showed him deducing things by slowing down time in what was essentially Sherlock-vision. This worked well, because we saw things for an instant as Sherlock sees them all the time – seeing all the details at every moment.
In this film, he doesn’t do the voice-over where he works out the details. It jumps straight to the part where he fast-forwards through the fight without explaining how he got there.
It gets especially stupid when, during one fast-forward of a fight with Moriarty, Moriarty’s voice-over interrupts. What? Why is Moriarty interrupting Sherlock’s prediction? Are they having some sort of psychic battle now?
Too Many Fights
Another reason it’s hard to tell that Sherlock is supposed to be an intelligent man and paragon or reason is that he gets into more fights than James Bond and Tyler Durden combined. As a consequence, he seems less like a man who could work out the details and use that to his advantage as he does a superhero who sees the future.
I get that just showing Sherlock reasoning for two hours might be a tad boring, but surely a man as smart as Sherlock would be able to find other solutions apart from fighting. Talking his way out of situations would show more intelligence.
Slowing Down Time
Waaay too often. And for no purpose. It no longer highlights Sherlock’s moments of brilliance and instead is used just for effect and is disorienting and mostly annoying.
The first film had a good buddy-comedy vibe to it. This one tries to be more serious, but lacks the drama or intrigue or… anything… to replace it. So you just watch Watson being annoyed and surprised at Holmes for being Holmes when he shouldn’t be. He should know Holmes is going to behave erratically and get into trouble. It’s what he does. But the film doesn’t make this fun; it makes it… nothing. Tired. Stale.
Isn’t threatening. I get that he is Professor Moriarty, so he has to actually lecture at a university, but the way he is played – or the things he’s given to do – are not scary. In the stories (as far as I can remember) Moriarty is mostly talked about rather than shown.
This Moriarty is shown. Constantly. Being dull and not that intimidating.
Also, he and Sherlock keep having these tete-a-tetes. Why doesn’t either of them just kill the other? Surely Sherlock is smart enough to get away with murder. Surely it’s in Moriarty’s interest not to let his nemesis live to foil his plans. So why aren’t either of these people doing anything? Why do they both just vaguely threaten that they’re cracking down on the other and know exactly where they are and not actually do anything about it?
And the final fight I didn’t find convincing, because I couldn’t imagine him being a challenge to the Turkish-assassin-defeating Sherlock. It’s like the end of Assassin’s Creed II, where Ezio Auditore (chief Assassin extraordinaire) beats up a fat man in a dress. There’s no drama because this character should be no match for our hero at all.
Also I couldn’t consider Moriarty as dangerous or evil because all he was ever shown to do was sit. We didn’t see the evil his crimes created in the world, we didn’t see him doing anything evil. It isn’t revealed until the very end what he’s doing that is so awful. And the answer is “apparently nothing yet, but he has designs to actually commit crimes sometime in the future”.
Not… not that evil, really.
The First Film
Is irrelevant. You remember how Moriarty was orchestrating it all just to get his hands on the gas or the radio transmitter or whatever it was that he stole from the sewer under the Parliament?
It has nothing to do with this film. So… why bother? Why try for that cliffhanger ending if it has no actul relevance?
The Final Chess Game
Is more interesting than the final fight, but since half of it is played in their minds rather than on the board, it would have been nice to see those pieces move. Otherwise it just sounds like useless, meaningless jargon. A flash to the pieces moving would have given it the feeling of action and would have shown Sherlock starting to turn the conversation and dismantle Moriarty’s defences. Instead, they break up a tense conversation to say lines like “Queen to rook four” or something, which ruins an otherwise excellent scene.
What’s the Solution?
Keep the continuing story from the first one: a case that seems unrelated to Moriarty but turns out to be connected. Moriarty isn’t scary or interesting enough to be the main focus. Keep Moriarty in the shadows. Make him genuinely cruel or evil. Give us a reason to hate him, then give us the confrontation. Have Sherlock use intellect to solve the problems he encounters.
Nope. The first one was. This one is not.