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Tag Archive: Noomi Rapace


Emmy nominee and Golden Globe winner in 2017 and a Golden Globe nominee again this year for best actress in a television series, all for The Crown, Claire Foy is quickly becoming an actor to keep an eye out for.  Her career continues on an upward trajectory this Fall when she stars in two big screen movie releases.  Both of these films saw their first trailers arrive this weekend.  One is a historical biopic and the other a crime story, both adaptations of bestselling books.

Coming first is director Damien Chazelle’s First Man from Universal Pictures, a film about astronaut Neil Armstrong starring Ryan Gosling (Blade Runner 2049, The Nice Guys), with Foy co-starring as Armstrong’s wife Janet, based on a book by James R. Hansen.  The film also stars Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) as Buzz Aldrin, Lukas Haas (Witness, The Revenant) as Mike Collins, Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys, Winchester) as Ed White, Ethan Embry (That Thing You Do!, Batman Beyond) as Pete Conrad, Kyle Chandler (Super 8, Argo) as Deke Slayton, and Ciaran Hinds (The Sum of All Fears, Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2) in an undisclosed role.

Next will be director Fede Alvarez’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web from Sony Pictures.  This is a sequel to the film adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Foy takes on the role of Millennium series star Lisbeth Salander, formerly played in the Swedish film by Noomi Rapace and later the American production by Rooney Mara.  This is the first story in the dark and violent series not written by Larsson–David Lagercrantz was tapped to pen the novel this film is based upon.  The film co-stars Sylvia Hoeks (Blade Runner 2049).

Here is Claire Foy in new trailers for First Man and The Girl in the Spider’s Web:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s the largest direct to television film yet made, the $90 million new Christmas weekend Netflix-only release Bright.  And it’s a welcome addition to the world of mash-ups.  It’s a fantasy, action, police procedural.  It’s a Will Smith movie and a high-octane Assault on Precinct 13 and Training Day-inspired shoot-’em-up.  It’s The Lord of the Rings meets Adam-12.  And it’s also like a new film in the Alien Nation series or an episode of the short-lived Syfy series Defiance.  The biggest downfall is that the opportunities for new stories within its massive world building merits more than just a one-shot story.

Joel Edgerton is fantastic as an Orc LAPD officer named Nick Jakoby who’s partnered with a human cop named Daryl Ward, played by Will Smith.  It’s a parallel world where the past 2,000 years of Earth history have been blended with the trope world of classic high fantasy stories.  Evil little fairies annoy and harass and cause mischief.  Elves are refined and tend to run everything.  Dragons fly unassuming across the night sky.  Orcs are the dregs of society and humans are stuck somewhere in the middle.  A Bright can be of any race, and federal agents responsible for magic are attempting to make certain a certain evil Bright is not reunited with a magic wand–an event that could return a dark power to annihilate the planet.

When Daryl and Nick pick up a Bright carrying a magic wand, gangs of humans and Orcs will stop at nothing to possess the wand–a rare object that can grant its owner any and every wish.  But only a Bright can handle a wand, and like the One Ring from The Hobbit series, the temptation to take the wand is great–too great for some poor saps without self-control.  The movie moves into a full-length action chase scene, with Daryl and Nick mirroring the cops in a very similar situation from Alien Nation.  And also like Alien Nation, the subtext is a reflection of all of the ills of society.

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smith-and-friend

We first previewed Bright last winter here at borg.com.  It’s a police procedural.  It’s high fantasy.  It’s even an urban fantasy.  And it’s a supernatural action movie.  In Bright, the December release starring Will Smith, we get to see a mash-up of the science fiction classic Alien Nation and the short-lived Karl Urban series Almost Human.  This time the lead cop, played by Will Smith, is not partners with an alien but an Orc.  That’s an Orc of Middle Earth fame played by Joel Edgerton, the co-star of last year’s brilliant film Midnight Special (and you may know him as young Uncle Owen from the Star Wars prequels).  It has the look of John Carpenter’s They Live and Attack on Precinct 13.

So get ready for fantasy–not science fiction, other than the parallel Earth–a Los Angeles where Humans, Orcs, Fairies, and Elves have lived and co-existed throughout our history.  It’s good ol’ classic fantasy, so there’s an epic quest for a talisman–a wand–a powerful and illegal wand, and the two LAPD cops are searching for it as they protect a female Elf.  And Will Smith gets to wield a sword.

ward-sword

Bright is directed by David Ayer (director of Suicide Squad, Fury, Street Kings, and writer for Training Day, The Fast and the Furious) and written by Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), with co-stars Noomi Rapace (Alien: Covenant, Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Edgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train, Domino), Dawn Olivieri (Heroes), and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad).  

Here’s the latest trailer for Bright: 

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The next effort at creating a complex and challenging role for a lead actress Orphan Black-style is coming in August from Netflix.  It’s the dystopian sci-fi thriller What Happened to Monday, formerly titled Seven Sisters, written by Max Botkin and Kerry Williamson, and directed by Tommy Wirkola (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters).  What Happened to Monday is sci-fi’s next new look at a bleak future world in the vein of Children of Men (hope in the face of global infertility), Logan’s Run (to battle population explosion a shortened life clock of 30 years is enforced for all), Never Let Me Go (clones are created for parts for the ruling class), The Handmaid’s Tale (remaining fertile women are forced to reproduce for those in power), Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s Harrison Bergeron (a twisted equality is enforced on the world), and Gattaca (only the genetically superior are allowed to succeed).  It stars Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) in seven roles as the seven sisters–seven identical septuplets to be exact–in a society where only one child is allowed per family.  Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Clear and Present Danger, Spider-man) stars as their grandfather who raised them, Robert Wagner (The Pink Panther, Hart to Hart, Stars and Stripes Forever, The Towering Inferno) in an undisclosed role, and Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction, Reversal of Fortune, Guardians of the Galaxy) is a leader in the repressive future world.

The first trailer was released this week for What Happened to Monday, and it looks compelling, providing a peek at the plot.  The septuplets’ father hides the sisters’ existence from everyone, allowing only one girl outside one day per week, corresponding with their names, each a day of the week.  When Monday does not come home one day, the sisters must go about discovering what happened to her without revealing their secret.  It’s a role that will certainly be compared, for good or bad, to Tatiana Maslany’s role as multiple clones on Orphan Black.

What Happened to Monday is the latest in Netflix purchasing first run otherwise theatrical releases exclusively for Netflix subscribers.

Check out this first trailer for What Happened to Monday:

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smith-and-friend

It’s a police procedural.  It’s high fantasy.  It’s even an urban fantasy.  And a supernatural action movie.  That’s a heckuva mash-up.

It’s Bright, a new movie starring Will Smith.  Although this kind of fantasy tale has appeared in novels, we haven’t seen this story on the big screen.  Maybe Highlander?  Defiance?  On paper it looks like the science fiction classic Alien Nation and the short-lived Karl Urban series Almost Human–except the lead cop, played by Will Smith here, is not partners with an alien but an–wait for it–an Orc.  That’s an Orc–those typically vile fantasy bad guys from Middle Earth–played by Joel Edgerton, the co-star of last year’s brilliant film Midnight Special (and you know him as young Uncle Owen from the Star Wars prequels).  And it has the look of John Carpenter’s They Live (official images of the Orc makeup have not yet been released for publication).

That’s right.  We’re talking fantasy, not science fiction, other than the parallel Earth.  The setting for Bright is a parallel universe Los Angeles where Humans, Orcs, Fairies, and Elves have lived and co-existed throughout our history.  It’s good ol’ classic fantasy, so there’s an epic quest for a talisman–a wand–a powerful and illegal wand, and the two LAPD cops are searching for it as they protect a female Elf.  And Will Smith gets to wield a sword.

ward-sword

Bright is directed by David Ayer (director of Suicide Squad, Fury, Street Kings, and writer for Training Day, The Fast and the Furious) and written by Max Landis (Victor Frankenstein, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency), with co-stars Noomi Rapace (Alien: Covenant, Prometheus, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), Edgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train, Domino), Dawn Olivieri (Heroes), and Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad).  Continue reading

alien-covenant

Directed by Ridley Scott and written by John Logan, Alien: Covenant is coming to theaters this summer.  It is another of those rare and unusual films:  The prequel that is also a sequel.  It is the sequel to Prometheus (2012), so it is the second installment in the Alien franchise chronologically, prequel to the original Alien (1979), and the sixth movie produced in the series.

The film tracks a colony ship, the Covenant, which arrives at a habitable planet and finds Michael Fassbender’s cyborg David, who we last saw at the end of Prometheus.  Fassbender plays dual roles, as the Weyland Corporation’s creation is also a member of the Covenant, as seen in the below preview.

alien-covenant-trailer

Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, and Guy Pearce return from Prometheus in Alien: Covenant.  New players include James Franco, Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Billy Crudup (Watchmen), Danny McBride (Superbad, Fanboys), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Carmen Ejogo  (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Amy Seimetz (Stranger Things), Jussie Smollett (Revenge), Callie Hernandez (Machete Kills, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), Nathaniel Dean (Farscape), and Alexander England (Gods of Egypt).

Check out this unusual preview, the first five minutes of the film: Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

Ridley Scott suggests a “sequel to the prequel” is a possibility in the feature material to the October 9, 2012 release of his is-it-or-isn’t-it-a-prequel to Alien blockbuster Prometheus on Blu-Ray, 3D, and DVD.  The trailer to the video release gets it just right–there are so many unanswered questions left in this summer’s big-budget blockbuster, sci-fi release that you may think you’re watching 2001: A Space Odyssey.  What was this Dr. Manhattan-looking being in the distant past and in our distant future eating that dissolved him into the ocean?  How does that being relate to the rather squiggly creature that emerged in one of the movie’s key scenes?  Why didn’t Scott just come out and call this a prequel?  Surprise, people!  It’s a prequel!  It’s actually really good at being a prequel, because unlike other prequel movies, it doesn’t re-hash every bit of the original film or films.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As major mainstream movies are concerned, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo leaves the viewer with a lot to think about.  Some good, mostly bad.  At the end of the movie we are left with a new super heroine of sorts.  As viewers, we uncomfortably accompanied her on an ugly and brutal path.  But at the end, we are left wanting to see what happens to her next.  The plot of the movie itself is complex but not complicated, yet the picture gets spun out of control into just another piece of shock cinema, and despite some good storytelling in building up the mystery, the climax is absurd, leaving us with a lackluster payoff.  There’s too much of everything in this picture, and not enough of what it does best.

I’m not sure this was meant to be a likeable movie, as it was too disturbing to be “likeable”.  Some parts were entertaining.  Some parts were done very well.  Other parts weren’t.  Look for spoilers ahead about what you will see in this movie, but I’ll give none of the actual story and mystery away.

At one level, it’s hard not to get sucked into an investigative reporter mystery.  And the unusual private eye-type job of the female lead in the movie was the coolest feature.  But ultimately we don’t really get to know much about her, and what makes her tick, except that she’s repeatedly been a victim of the system.  The director didn’t get into the daily job she had at the beginning of the film as much as I would have liked and the story meandered into other areas I cared less about instead.

Having watched the first third of the original Swedish version based on the late Stieg Larsson’s novel, I stopped to wait and watch this U.S. theatrical release first.  The original version is up there with the most graphic, disturbingly real-life violent movies ever made.  This new version is not substantially different, and beyond the first third of the movie the violence only builds.  Think of the most disturbing parts of Deliverance, Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Fargo, and Silence of the Lambs.  Like all these films, I would expect this one to do well around award season.  Movies that shock the conscience of the mainstream tend to succeed that way.  If you’re sensitive at all to true-life violence, skip this picture.  If you go, you’ll see graphic rape and torture scenes, numerous crime scene photos and dialogue about torture, rape, and murder.  And you’ll see several full-on sex scenes, none of which substantially contribute to the plot.  As we mentioned here in our first look at the movie trailer, you may recall that the original novel’s name translated from Swedish is Men Who Hate Women.  Ultimately, in both the main story, the back story and the subplots, that is all this movie is about, backed up with a corresponding vengeance story.

Beyond the shock factor of the violence, there is more to discuss, both good and bad.

Rooney Mara (Social Network, remake of Nightmare on Elm Street) playing the title role’s Lisbeth Salander as a down in the dumps, arguably insane yet intelligent, Goth street urchin is pretty much perfect for this role, and there was obviously a lot for this actress to go through, both as a character and in real life as an actor.  For what I saw of the original film, Noomi Rapace in the same role was equally good, however.  In fact all the scenes tracked the original as far as I watched the original version and the actors were all equally good.  For this American version, an Oscar nomination for Mara is certain.  Her best scene is in the final 20 minutes, a denouement that sets us up nicely for a sequel.  We can hope the continuing adventures of Salander in the next movie are better than in this one.

Another contender for an Oscar should be Christopher Plummer (Star Trek VI, Sound of Music, Wolf, Twelve Monkeys, Dragnet, Dreamscape, Somewhere in Time), who took a fairly minor role and made us care about him (maybe more than anyone else) from the beginning of the film to the end.  I was a little concerned about his character being a bit laughable, as in the movie previews he reminded me of Hume Cronyn’s dying character in Brewster’s Millions, yet Plummer’s skill as an actor brought some overall necessary credibility to the picture.  And he gets to utter the classic phrase “The enemy of my friend is my enemy.”

Unfortunately, Daniel Craig (Golden Compass, Road to Perdition, Layer Cake, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall) didn’t get a lot to work with in the screenplay as the lead male but secondary character, a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist.  His character makes stupid choices and he is hard to like, other than saving a stray cat (and yes, as with several other predictable components of the movie, whenever there is an animal in a film like this, you can be sure it doesn’t make it to the last scene).  Like literally every named character in the film, Craig’s character’s life is a mess.  He is flawed and weak, yet his character never gets beyond that state, where in another story it would be cause for some good character growth.  His partner/love interest is played by Robin Wright (The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, Unbreakable, State of Play), who is the only lead character to sport a Swedish accent.  I wouldn’t blame Wright for this–it was an odd directorial choice, and similar oddities and inconsistencies are peppered throughout the film, with some signs and papers in English and others in Swedish.  Usually a director will pick a path and stick with it.  I’ve always loved the way this was done in The Hunt for Red October, where dialogue begins in Russian, then subtly switches entirely to English.

And speaking of The Hunt for Red October, that movie’s co-star Stellan Skarsgard (Thor, King Arthur, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Avengers) gets a lot of screen time here as one of Plummer’s creepy family members.  Skarsgard is a good actor, and it’s no surprise seeing him cast in this film.  The rest of the cast performs well, too, and there is both a current cast of characters and a younger set shown in flashback.  In fact at the beginning of the film you can’t help be hopeful for a Clue-like whodunnit.  We get a mystery, but it has too many components, with riddles answered too conveniently, to make this a great picture.

The payoff in the film should not be surprising considering every crazy thing leading up to it.  Yet we get there and everything is too nicely tied up, too convenient, too quickly the riddle is solved and it’s just not as satisfying as it should be.

Some nit-picking:

The opening credits may be the worst opening I have ever had to sit through for a mainstream movie.  They consist of bodies plunging in and out of black oil, oil that makes you think the key to the riddle will somehow involve oil, and when you see an overturned tanker halfway through the film it makes you over-focus on it.  Were this a James Bond movie of pure fantasy, this elaborate opener might be appropriate, because it obviously took great skill to create, but for this kind of real-life subject matter it was just long, annoying and irrelevant.

The soundtrack and overall sound effects were too loud and obnoxious throughout–so loud that it often drowned out the dialogue of the actors and contrasted with, instead of amplified, the power of each scene.  Maybe this was the fault of the sound editors.  It was as if the final editors realized that telling us the story in long explanatory sentences quietly was too boring, so some wild, jumpy background music would somehow make us think this was exciting.  It didn’t work.  The setting of the movie is ugly.  A travelogue for Sweden, this is not.  As setting is concerned there is no relief, no light at the end of the tunnel.  Humorously one character gets to have a good line mentioning an IKEA table.

You’ll ask yourself questions after the film.  The biggest is:  Do you need to fully show viewers the full extent of real-life violence to feel complete sympathy for victims of violence?   I think most of the shock was unnecessary to tell this story.  Others may think you need this blatant depiction of violence to get the audience inflamed enough to cheer for the unlikely heroine.  I think we’d cheer for her either way.  How far could you go if you had to fight back?  How much would you help someone like the main character in real life?  What the heck does the dragon tattoo have to do with anything?  Yes, the girl has tattoos, but they are irrelevant to the story.  Ultimately it’s just a catchy title to lure us into the theater.

Is this just an updated version of the La Femme Nikita story?  I was reminded of it several times and it was fun seeing what the Internet can now do to contribute to the investigative process in a mystery movie.  I have to say I found Bridget Fonda’s version of Nikita, Point of No Return, although a lot thinner film, more entertaining than this movie.  And for a real-life mystery, the often overlooked Zodiac, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey, Jr., and Mark Ruffalo, is a far better and scarier, whodunnit and suspense thriller.

Ultimately what is in store for the viewer is a mixed bag of opposites.  The negatives are very negative, and the positives are pretty positive.  Unfortunately the negatives left me disappointed with this film.  I can’t over-stress the violent content, and if you don’t believe me check out this great summary on the Internet Movie DatabaseThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is Rated R, but years ago would have easily been an NC-17.   3 of 5 stars.

Ridley Scott’s new film Prometheus is be set in the same universe as his classic sci-fi/horror movie Alien.  Beyond that, the film seems to be a bit of an enigma.

Unlike a lot of trailers that give you a clue of what the movie will be about, the first trailer for Prometheus tells us very little, except: “They went looking for our beginning, what they found could be our end.”  The advance press material describes the film as “A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”  This alone sounds like an old, B-movie, sci-fi pitch, so I, and I am sure countless fans of Alien and Aliens, are hoping this movie ends up to be a lot more.  If the first trailer is any indication, this feels more like Alien 3, Ghosts of Mars, Event Horizon, or Predator 2, each of which had a few good points, but for a Ridley Scott follow-on to Alien, and from the director of Blade Runner, expectations are, and should be, high.  Here is the first trailer released:

A trailer’s sole job is getting us to change our behavior–getting us to decide to pay money to go see it–and not just decide to wait until it shows up on video, or worse, wait until it makes it later to a cable network.  One of the worst sci-fi films ever was Solar Crisis.  It was billed to the effect of being from one of the creators of Star Wars, in hindsight it must have been someone like the caterer, but that Star Wars reference got folks to the opening weekend.  Since then I have scrutinized every trailer I see.

How big will Charlize Theron's role be in Prometheus?

The website  www.prometheus-movie.com (possibly an official fan site?) shares a little more information about the plot of Prometheus:

“Little is known about Prometheus’ plotline. But what we can share with you is that the film is set in space for the most part. Similar to that of “ALIEN”; the jumping off point to this project. The film’s name “Prometheus” is that of the space vessel, used by a crew of select individuals who set off to explore and investigate fragments of “Alien DNA”.  The film itself revolves around the Space Jockey creature; as seen in the original film ALIEN (1979). When the team of scientists embark on this journey, they get stranded on an Alien world which tests their limits; both mental and physical.  Prometheus is also largely based on the creation of mankind, life and the Earth. From the recent synopsis publicly released by 20th Century Fox, we can determine roughly that Prometheus involves a team of scientists, “The Company” representatives and robot / synthetics which investigate and search for keys to unlock man’s ultimate mystery. But in the process, they threaten the future existence of mankind and are faced with unimaginable horrors.  The Aliens themselves are said to be much larger than the original “Xenomorphs” we are used to. However, their overall construction will be easily noticable to that of the original Alien canon.  Prometheus will be much more than just an Alien sci-fi horror. Ridley Scott is digging deeper for this project and Prometheus will unlock many questions and will touch on many aspects of life and existence. A true masterpiece.”

Nostromo crew observing creature piloting artist H.R. Giger's "Space Jockey" ship in Alien, an early victim of the xenomorphs

Huh?  I think the production for Prometheus needs to work on its marketing a bit.  So this is supposed to be kind of a “deep” movie, like 2001: A Space Odyssey was supposed to be?  Are they really trying to sell this through claiming bigger aliens?  And telling us it’s a “true masterpiece” in advance is kind of weak –I guess I just think they could do a lot better to try to sell us on this one.  Not that we’re looking for spoilers here.  Interviews Ridley Scott has given to the press so far have seemed cryptic, too, seemingly trying to tell us it is only somehow related to the Alien universe, but emphatic that it’s not a prequel.  When you have a big-name star like Academy Award winner Charlize Theron (who was awesome in sci-fi previously as the star of Aeon Flux), and fan favorites and up-and-coming names like Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) and Noomi Rapace (Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise), why not show us more of them?  That said, if the actors are going to get drowned out behind the action and effects, then thanks for letting us know upfront.

Cast of Prometheus, seen very little in the new trailer

I still count myself among several that believe the movie Aliens improved on Alien.  I realize loyal Alien fans strongly disagree.  I also loved the pairing of the “xenomorphs” from the Alien franchise with the Nausicaan-looking creatures of the Predator franchise, both in comic books and on film in the movie Aliens vs. Predator (not a great flick, but still a lot of fun).

You can’t judge a movie until you see it, and often good movies follow stale trailers (and vice versa!), so let’s just hope the next trailer, and more importantly the movie itself, delivers what fans are after:  a solid and exciting story, innovative setting and solid acting, more of Alien and Blade Runner, and not another Predator 2, Aliens 3, or Alien: ResurrectionPrometheus is scheduled to premier June 8, 2012.

 

Review by C.J. Bunce

Guy Ritchie’s 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes partnered Robert Downey, Jr.’s Holmes with Jude Law’s Dr. Watson, and the result was a superb, entertaining action caper.  This weekend Ritchie’s sequel, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, although not as great as the 2009 film, is a satisfying follow-up and equally entertaining.

In addition to Downey and Law, Rachel McAdams returns as thief and on-and-off-again love interest to Holmes, Irene Adler.  Reprising their supporting roles are Kelly Reilly, as Dr. Watson’s fiancée Mary, as well as Geraldine James as Holmes’s landlady, Mrs. Hudson, and Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lastrade.

Also returning is plenty of Holmes’s slow motion fight scenes, both real-time and shown in flashback, to sort of rub our noses in the fact that no one, not even the viewer, can keep up with the preparation and advance planning done by our hero detective.  There may very well be even more of these scenes, even longer than in the 2009 film, because I found myself comparing Holmes and Watson to contemporary variations on the duo in each of the slow-mo battles.*

As foreshadowed in the first film, Holmes now takes on nemesis Professor Moriarty, who is set up as an incredibly brilliant villain mastermind, teaching at university while also orchestrating arms deals and terrorist attacks as part of a business case to become even more wealthy, regardless of whether he starts a war to take down all of Europe in the process.  Moriarty is played well here by Jared Harris (The Riches, Madmen, Fringe, Far and Away, Last of the Mohicans, Lost in Space, The Other Boleyn Girl, Without a Trace, Lady in the Water), who gets to show some good acting chops possibly courtesy of shared acting genes from his father, legendary thespian Richard Harris (the first Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, as well as King Arthur in Camelot, Richard the Lionheart in Robin and Marian, and key roles in Patriot Games, Unforgiven, and The Guns of Navarone).  Harris plays Moriarty probably too subtly here, he hints at a dark side akin to Will Patton’s General Bethlehem in The Postman, but most of this is through the story build-up and not through his character onscreen.  We’re left wanting a bit for some more evil and brilliance to counter-balance that of Downey’s Holmes, who again here is perfect in nearly every scene.

Noomi Rapace (the lead in the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels), unlike typical casting of Hollywood model types, is well-cast as a gypsy woman, but unfortunately she only gets a few good scenes, both of them running from first Russian then German mercenaries and the resulting fight scenes and bullet dodging.

Game of Shadows, as a sequel, reminded me of a sequel like the non-stop action-filled Die Hard 3, and happily not like sequels that hit with a thud such as Downey’s Iron Man 2.

Key creative and impactful scenes include McAdams’s character encountering the full weight of Moriarty’s Godfather-like influence, Watson and his new wife’s train ride to their honeymoon, lots and lots of cannons, and Holmes’s fascination with what he calls “urban camouflage.”  There is a bit to say that doesn’t work in this sequel, the story skips around a lot, the plot itself is lacking and seems to be a bunch of stitched together scenes and you may question why they move on to the next location and think “maybe on re-viewing it will make more sense.”

But of all the positive in the film, nothing matches the introduction of a new character, Holmes’s smarter brother Mycroft Holmes, played beautifully and brilliantly by comedian and actor Stephen Fry.  Fry is an actor that seems to only get better and more brilliant every time he appears in a new film.  Known early on as part of a comedy troupe with Hugh Laurie (House, M.D.), he also had key roles in Peter’s Friends, V for Vendetta, Gosford Park, A Civil Action, I.Q., and A Fish Called Wanda, and he will be appearing next year as the Master of Laketown in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  As the “other Holmes,” Fry gets some funny, key scenes and hopefully will have even more screentime in future sequels.

*These included:  Hugh Laurie’s House and Robert Sean Leonard’s Wilson in Holmes/Watson roles on House, M.D., against their own Moriarty, Forman; on the TV show Psych, James Roday and Dule Hill’s Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster, particularly with Shawn’s observation skills; Jeffrey Donovan’s Michael Westen and his sleuthing spy work voice-overs on Burn Notice, the current equally superb BBC series Sherlock, and Batman’s detective stories, which are often written mentioning the original, classic detective’s influence on Bruce Wayne.

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