Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: The Great Game (2010) ****

TV-14, 89 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Mark Gatiss (also creator), Steven Moffat (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Zoe Telford, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, Vinette Robinson, Mark Gatiss

Moriarty. The name whispers underneath almost ever Sherlock adventure in much the same way Voldemort does for Harry Potter. “Do people actually have arch nemeses?” Dr. Watson feels compelled to ask.

True, it might seem like a tough sell in a modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes to convince people that men of these intellects would even care about having a nemesis. Yet, the makers of this series do a pretty damn good job of pulling it off in their third movie “The Great Game”. They set up a series of bombings that will happen if Sherlock doesn’t solve a series of mysteries to go along with them. Moriarty enters Sherlock’s world with a bang. Although, as I said, his name has whispered on the edges of the two previous adventures.

It’s important that this adventure begins with boredom. Throughout it Dr. Watson struggles with the apparent cold-hearted nature of Sherlock’s whimsy. Does Sherlock care about any of the victims of these crimes at all, or is it all just a game to him? What is more important? That he care and cloud his judgment? Or that he see everything as a piece of a puzzle, victim included, in order to most efficiently prevent further injury? There is a line where sympathy and empathy meet. Should it be avoided?

In the end, Moriarty suggests that Sherlock may have more of a heart than he lets on. The final victim is no accident. And what about that Moriarty? So often he is portrayed as a cold calculating superior of all things including at least a surface civility. Here they seem to have taken the notion that Sherlock is a psychopath waiting to snap and given us a Moriarty that has. He’s almost The Joker. That is a brilliant move. Andrew Scott is just as remarkable a choice for Moriarty as Benedict Cumberbatch is for Sherlock, and that is as it should be.

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