Sherlock Holmes

Columbia Pictures

There’s much to be mocked about sidekicks, one of the easier targets in film. We’re set up to picture a simultaneously meek and booming catchphrase-machine clad in a matching uniform, seemingly created solely to follow our protagonist around and hype them up on their journeys. While plenty of that variety exist, there’s a different and far more interesting breed of sidekicks who prove to be so much more — valuable assets who, really, are so much better than the leads in the first place. Here are seven sidekicks who are smarter and more capable than the heroes they’re supporting.

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Drinking Games

Two and a half years ago, Guy Ritchie revived the classic Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, starring Iron Man himself as the eccentric detective. This past Christmas, he also directed the sequel of the film, in the wake of the BBC’s brilliant Sherlock series. Now that sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is available on Blu-ray and DVD. Whether you like these new films or you prefer the BBC show, you can enjoy the new movie with this drinking game of shadows. Of course, if you want to start things off right, you can also enjoy Guy Ritchie’s original Sherlock Holmes with a few drinks here. Though we don’t recommend using formaldehyde as your spirit of choice, as Holmes does in the movie. That would kill you dead faster than Lucy Liu’s upcoming Elementary television series.

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While we all wait with baited pipe smoke-tinged breath for another highly stylized Sherlock Holmes adventure from Guy Ritchie, Deadline Trenton reports that Warner Bros. has attached the director to helm a new take on Robert Louis Stevenson‘s classic novel “Treasure Island.” And, as if there was any question about whether or not Ritchie would be straying from the high-action, whiz-bang stuff that’s made his Robert Downey Jr.-starring Holmes such a smash, the film has been set up by producer Lionel Wigram (Ritchie’s producing partner and the one responsible for ushering in the new Holmes tales). Wigram reportedly set up the project before he and Ritchie even became producing partners, and the buzz is that it will be a “stylized version of the classic novel.” So, yeah, pretty much just like Holmes. Expect the doubloons to roll in.

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If I had to pick two things that I just can’t get enough of in films, it would have to be a good underdog story and gratuitous physical violence. It is only natural then that I would build a humble list of some of my favorite moments in cinema where the two are combined. When I think about what makes a fight particularly one-sided, it actually has less to do with the amount of people that the hero is up against and more about the hero’s strengths, or rather lack thereof. But then there’s always going to be an ‘awesome’ factor to think about, because when it is all said and done the hero usually triumphs against the odds – so the means in which they do such a thing is very important to me; being badass certainly has its merits, but in most cases, being creative is far more impressive.

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Boiling Point

Dear reader, I come to you bearing the gravest of news. Hollywood is not making enough money. Tragic, I know, but there is something we can do. Something we must do. We must get out our checkbooks and donate to the big studios. We must shower them with money. For, hide the children, movie viewership is down to a 16 year low. For crying out loud, only 1.2 billion movie tickets were sold in America! How have we as a country let this happen? Where have we gone wrong? Reuters, The Daily Mail, they’re all reporting the lackluster year Hollywood has had. This is serious, people. This is big news. Studio executives everywhere are “battling” against a soft audience and struggling to match the numbers of previous years. Let me find my tiny violin, will you?

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

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The Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows junket included a massive press conference that featured so much talent from the sequel to Guy Ritchie‘s 2009 film that they needed to be arranged in stadium seating, including stars Robert Downey Jr., Noomi Rapace, and Jared Harris, director Ritchie, producers Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, and Susan Downey, screenwriters Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney, and composer Hans Zimmer. Jude Law couldn’t make it because, as RDJ put it, “his son had a soccer game.” For forty-five minutes, the group fielded questions from the Los Angeles press (let’s be honest, Downey fielded questions from the press, frequently begging for someone to toss a query at one of the nine other people sitting around and behind him), and all the microphone-grabbing and cracks at banter did yield some interesting tidbits. Mainly, a story about Hans Zimmer essentially kidnapping thirteen gypsies, but that’s for later. After the break, break out your steampunk-inspired magnifying glasses and try to follow along, Watson, as we investigate the case of the eleven things we learned at the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows press conference.

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The Holiday Gift Guide: DVD and Blu-ray

Merry Christmas movie/TV/goat-cheese lovers! As part of our week-long gift guide extravaganza thingamajig we’ve put together a list of Blu-rays, DVD and a few other ideas for you to use when shopping for others or for putting on your own Christmas list. Or both. Some of the films below are from years past, but they all hit Blu-ray and/or DVD this year so they totally count for this gift guide. Click on the links to be magically transported to Amazon, AmazonUK and other places where lovely things can be found.

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Well, this is certainly going to make my piece about the Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows (coming next week! only here at Film School Rejects!) press conference a touch more interesting. Deadline Ratcliff reports that Warner Bros. is currently “making a deal” with director Guy Ritchie and his new partner Lionel Wigram to “come aboard” their The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature that was recently vacated by director Steven Soderbergh. That’s really just sort of vague – Deadline has really buried the lede on this one, finally getting to it – “the intention is for Ritchie to direct the film.” A ha! Elementary! Ritchie and Wigram recently formed their own production company after making two Sherlock Holmes films together. Wigram wrote and produced the first Sherlock Holmes film, and serves as executive producer on the next installment, opening next week. Wigram has a bevy of other titles under his producer belt, including four Harry Potter films, August Rush, and the upcoming films The Seventh Son and Arthur & Lancelot. Also – the dude was the second unit director on Cool as Ice, so you know what that makes him? Cool as ice. The film still comes complete with a script by Scott Z. Burns, but Soderbergh’s reasons for leaving – including budget struggles and trouble casting the lead – don’t just disappear with Ritchie and Wigram getting on board. Wait, what am I saying? We might as well cast Robert Downey, Jr. in this right now.

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Culture Warrior

Last week, we explored the concept of shoving products into movies, but there’s an equal and opposite marketing method where movies are shoved into product commercials – especially if the character is an iconic one. There’s a distinction to be made here about the difference between celebrities endorsing colognes and fictional characters doing it, although the line can definitely be blurred. Movie star endorsements are as old as the medium, whether it’s Buster Keaton slugging out the chalk for Simon Pure Beer, Charles Bronson going overboard with his self-sprinkling of Mandom, Arnold Schwarzenegger scream-laughing for a Japanese energy drink, or Abraham Lincoln selling us churros. And that doesn’t include all the normal, run-of-the-mill advertising where an actress loves a brand of make-up or a wrestler loves beef jerky. A human being selling out is one thing, but there’s something especially heinous about a character being used to market a product because it’s an element of art forced into a square hole of commercialism. Oftentimes its done without the creator’s consent (or consent is contractually taken away from the starting block). In most cases, the original actor doesn’t even have to be involved (for better or worse), especially if there’s a costume involved. In its rawest form, it’s the uglification of something we love. This list is light-years away from being complete, but it hopefully shows a well-rounded view of different types of movie characters in commercials throughout a few different time periods.

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You are not hallucinating. You did not somehow miss the opening of Guy Ritchie‘s second Sherlock Holmes film. You also did not imagine that the film seems to focus principally on trees that explode the minute bullets hit them and Robert Downey Jr. cross-dressing more than is probably necessary (at least, that’s what all the marketing seems to hinge upon). Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows will not open until December 16, but Warner Bros. is apparently so pumped on this second outing that they’ve already set a screenwriter for the third film. And they’ve chosen a screenwriter that all of Hollywood already seems pumped on. Drew Pearce will script the third Sherlock Holmes flick, but not before he finishes up his other big franchise flick three-quel script, for Shane Black‘s Iron Man 3. Not content to just pen scripts for series that star Robert Downey Jr. winking his way through established material, Pearce also reportedly contributed to Guillermo del Toro‘s Pacific Rim. Wait – so he can do superheroes, super-sleuths, and super-monsters? Who is this guy? If the gigs he’s getting set for are any indication, a huge (and unproven, at least feature-wise) talent with some major geek leanings. Pearce’s pre-Iron Man 3 resume is a spare one, filled with a UK television series (Lip Service) and the comedy videos shorts for The Committee. But he’s also got a cult hit to his name – UK series No Heroics, the creation of which is likely what set Pearce for another superhero […]

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Enjoy playing Count The Explosions in the next trailer for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. While there’s still a subdued kind of excitement to the proceedings, it’s not short on very quick chemical reactions. Hopefully the film will be an improvement on the first. At any rate, Guy Ritchie is raising the stakes by including Moriarty, Holmes’s greatest foe, played by Jared Harris. Of course Robert Downey, Jr. is back alongside Jude Law, and while they’ll be joined by Noomi Rapace, we’ll also apparently see the return of Rachel McAdams to the series. Check it out for yourself:

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I’ve reported on the Thin Man remake that Johnny Depp is attached to star in a couple times before. First, there was the news that “Permanent Midnight” author Jerry Stahl would be writing the new screenplay for the film. Then there was word that past Depp collaborator Rob Marshall would be stepping in to direct. A new round of updates on the development of this project seem to confirm that, yes, Marshall is still attached to sit in the director’s chair. However, it seems that Stahl never actually did any writing for the film, so the suits have gotten a new guy to start a script from scratch. According to Deadline Rockland, veteran screenwriter David Koepp has now been charged with the duty of updating the exploits of married P.I. team Nick and Nora Charles. Koepp’s name doesn’t really tell me much about what to expect from this movie. He’s responsible for completely acceptable literary adaptations like Jurassic Park, but he’s also responsible for completely unacceptable literary adaptations like Angels & Demons. I guess his involvement is going to be a bit of a crapshoot.

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Culture Warrior

Movies have a strange relationship with history, that’s for certain. On the one hand, they have the ability to bring to life, in spectacular detail, the intricate recreation of historical events. On the other hand, films can have a misleading and even potentially dangerous relationship with history, and can change the past for the benefit of storytelling or for political ends. And there’s always the option of using films to challenge traditional notions of history. Finally, many movies play with history through the benefit of cinema’s artifice. Arguably, it’s this last function that you see history function most often in relationship to mainstream Hollywood cinema. In playing with history, Hollywood rarely possesses a calculated political motive or a desire to recreate period detail. In seeking solely to entertain, Hollywood portrays the historical, but rarely history itself. Tom Shone of Slate has written an insightful piece about a unique presence of that historical mode all over the movies seeking to be this summer’s blockbusters. Citing X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Cowboys & Aliens as examples, Shone argues that this is an unusual movie summer in terms of the prominence of movies set in the past. However, while such a dense cropping of past-set films is unusual for this season, these movies don’t seem to be all that concerned with “the past” at all – at least, not in the way that we think.

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This Week in Blu-ray

It’s a big week in Blu-ray releases. Perhaps that has something to do with why this week’s column is a day late. For once, it’s an intense amount of writing and not my inherent laziness that has us talking Blu-ray on Wednesday morning rather than Tuesday. Almost 3,000 words died horrific deaths to make this week’s column come to life, and only a handful of them weren’t written by yours truly. The others were written by Rob Hunter, who stops by to give us a look inside a 14-film set of Sherlock Holmes films, none of which include Robert Downey Jr. For my part, I review my favorite film of 2010, a great and fitting pair of Criterion releases, an epic from DeMille, a season of Don Draper, the latest greatest thing from The Wire‘s David Simon, a fun Disney animated adventure and the story of a high school boy who finds out he’s a werewolf. And that’s not even the half of it. This and more in This Week in Blu-ray. Black Swan This week saw some major competition for Pick of the Week. Between the value of Mad Men and Tremé, it could have very easily been a TV season that took it. And Disney unleashed Tangled, which might just have been the best animated film of last year. And Teen Wolf hit Blu — need I say more. But I can’t help but stick with the film I named as number one on my list of the […]

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It was a big day on the Internet for Guy Ritchie. Vulture reports that the sequel to the hugely successful sword and sandals film 300 has been taken out of its original director Zack Snyder’s hands and placed into Ritchie’s. The film is called Xerxes and is another adaptation of a Frank Miller graphic novel. Snyder was developing the sequel already, but now Ritchie will have the opportunity to put his own stamp on the project. I guess that means all of the fight scenes are going to go from being slowed down to sped up? Regardless, if they are able to cut a trailer with enough macho posturing to lure all of the fans of 300 back into the theater, then this could be a real coup for the director. But that’s not all. Ritchie also has a sequel to his successful 2009 film Sherlock Holmes coming out in December. E Online reports that this film has gone from being known as Untitled Sherlock Holmes Sequel to the slightly more fetching Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Eh, I don’t know; it kind of sounds like a role-playing game. Untitled Sherlock Holmes Sequel might have been the thing to go with after all. It lets the people know what they’re getting. All of my snickering and sniping aside, this is pretty big news for a filmmaker I went about nine years without thinking about. It was like, he made Lock, Stock and Snatch and then he totally disappeared until […]

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Culture Warrior

For whatever reason, Sherlock Holmes has seen something of an unexpected cultural resurgence recently. Of course, one could argue that the pipe-smoking gumshoe is ubiquitously present in some form or another as his image resonates well beyond the pages in which Arthur Conan Doyle originally encapsulated and explored his identity decade in and decade out; it seems merely a matter, instead, of how present he is in mainstream forms of popular culture at any given moment. That Sherlock Holmes is an object of the public domain only provides greater opportunities for his likeness to arise in myriad ways across media. But what’s unique about the recent incarnations of Holmes is the great variety of forms he takes within a variety of representational modes: the various Holmses we’ve seen recently are not only very different, but distinct in a way that function in conversation, and even in conflict, with each other. The only certainty that arises out of this variety of Holmes characters is that there is no one certain, dominant interpretation of the character, but rather many that audiences can choose from. That several incarnations of Holmes have arisen in popular media almost simultaneously does not point to a broad need in our culture relating to some intrinsic notion of who Holmes is “supposed to be.” Instead these examples are, to varying degrees, different niche versions of the character, each interpretation responding to some specific need.

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Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law no longer feel anything like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. If you have been privy to the world of Sherlock, as seen through the eyes of Steven Moffat and his team at the BBC, you know exactly what I’m talking about. With the release of the first official image from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes 2 (seen above), we are reminded that there’s another Holmes out there in the world who is not played by Benedict Cumberbatch. It feels off, to say the least.

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Hero Complex is reporting this week that the inevitable sequel to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes could be in 3D. We follow up on that report by scouring the globe in search of someone who is surprised by this news…

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What happens when a greatly talented actor finds himself wearing the black hat in every film? Jeremy Kirk makes a strong case for a leading role.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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