Reel Critics: Ritchie's latest 'Sherlock Holmes' filled with more exploits and explosions

Director Guy Ritchie established his credentials for outrageous noisy action flicks with "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

He put the dignified Sherlock Holmes series on steroids with his first big budget effort in 2009. He added top-notch special effects with a pumped up Robert Downey Jr., amplifying the prowess of the English detective. Together they took the lead character into whiz bang superhero territory.

Their latest installment, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," adds even more exploits, explosions and derring-do to the mix. Jude Law reappears as the reliable sidekick Dr. Watson. He accompanies Holmes across 19th century Europe on missions full of political intrigue and danger.

They try to thwart the plans of the evil Dr. Moriarity. The screenplay recipe combines elements of James Bond, Mission Impossible and the Wild West. It's clearly a formula action adventure film. But the great production values, cinematography and acting will please fans of the genre.

An advance screening presented by Orange County Film Society at the Lido Theater in Newport Beach featured a guest appearance by actor Jared Harris, who plays the sinister Dr. Moriarity. His humorous comments added spice to the enjoyable experience.


A glittering nothing

"New Year's Eve" is like that giant ball in Times Square — big, shiny and empty with no surprises on where it'll end up at midnight.

The team who gave us "Valentine's Day" repeat the formula in this ode to finding love and a taxi on the biggest night in the city that never sleeps.

Featuring "more celebrities than rehab," much of the movie is spent waiting for a famous face to pop up as you've never seen before.

Ooh look, there's Jon Bon Jovi playing a rock star – no really! Ashton Kutcher as a smart aleck, Lea Michele can belt out a song, Sarah Jessica Parker runs around New York City in heels. Wow, really?

In another display of unexpected casting, Katherine Heigl is a famous chef who looks afraid to slice a pineapple, and has time to change into several outfits on the busiest night of the year.

But we do get some genuine moments from Halle Berry as a cancer ward nurse, and a sweetly melancholy turn from Michelle Pfeiffer as a timid secretary. Nice to see these former Catwomen on their game, albeit briefly.

All this happy-dappy holiday sappy is enough to induce a major sugar hangover. It's all engineered to bring a lump to the throat; but for me it was more of a gag reflex.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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