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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ultimate Geek Fu

It's the Wednesday after Christmas. Half the Friday Challenge crew is out on the road somewhere, and the rest of us are still recovering from the holiday. I personally am up to my armpits in trying to pull the January STUPEFYING STORIES together. And still you want an Ultimate Geek Fu?

Okay, let's see: did anyone get any good books for Christmas? I mean, aside from Jimi Plays Dead, by yours truly, which is still available for free on Amazon for one more day?

As for electronic media: the last time I had the TV on was to watch the Packers beat the Bears—honestly, even though they're Da Bears, by the 4th quarter, I was feeling sorry for them—and the next time I anticipate having the TV on will be to watch the Packers play the Lions. So I really have nothing to say re TV this week.

The last movie I saw in the theater was Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows —which was good enough, for a big-budget CGI-heavy December blockbuster, but really more of a steampunked-up Indiana Jones Meets The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen than a Sherlock Holmes story. Chase scene, fight scene, chase scene, fight scene, comic relief breather, chase scene, fight scene, D.S. al coda...

Some quibbles:

1. The palette ran the entire range from dark blue to brown to gray to black, with most of the film looking like grubby gray actors on black sets shot through blue filters. Even the gypsy camp was oddly monochromatic. Would it have hurt to put some color in the thing?

2. Can we please declare a moratorium on the "shifting film speed" chase scene gimmick? You know, where most of the scene is run at slightly faster-than-normal frame rates to give a sense of frenetic action, but then it drops into super slow-motion to show a bullet just creasing a character or shattering a tree? We've seen that one enough. Come up with a new visual cliche, please.

3. Downey's riff on Heath Ledger's "Joker" really is just awful. Pulls you completely out of this movie and makes you realize you wish you were watching The Dark Knight instead.

4. As a story, the biggest problem with this one was that this version of Professor Moriarty felt like a complete lightweight. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it: the quality of the villain determines the value of the hero. In the Holmes canon, Moriarty is supposed to be "the Napoleon of Crime." This guy was more of a cheese Danish.

5. Finally, the whole film could have been redeemed by one image: if, while Holmes and Watson were prowling around Moriarty's "secret weapons factory" and discovering all these "futuristic" weapons with which Moriarty was planning to bring death and destruction to the world (e.g., broomhandle Mausers, Vickers machine guns, Skoda cannons), they had rounded a corner, and Downey's Holmes had found himself looking at a steampunked-up Edwardian "Iron Man" suit. That moment would have made this movie. But it wasn't in this movie.

Hmm. Guess I had more to say about this movie than I thought.

Anyway, there's your UGF roundup for this Wednesday morning. I don't believe I've said anything controversial, but since it has become our traditional conclusion, I will conclude with:

Let the arguments begin!
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