Thor and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Today’s double-review follows two classic tales, told over and over again, in folklore or endless remakes. The particulars of these stories turn on tride-and-true rivalries, villains fomenting war, and dudes with beards fighting against dudes without beards. Some thoughts, then, about Thor and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
- Both stories ultimately revolve around the machinations in politics for war. Sherlock Holmes makes Professor Moriarty’s ultimate scheme a World War some twenty years before we “did it ourselves;” Thor makes Loki’s schemes turn on the same aspiration–to put Asgaard at war with, um, Frozengaard (okay, it had some other name that I can’t remember).
- Both stories also benefit from the depth of knowledge the audience brings to the table. In watching Thor with my mom, we kept stopping to fill in references to other Avengers, to characters in previous comics or movies, and to the greater Marvel Universe. It occurred to us, as we watched the film, that the Avengers movie next year will be ridiculously chock-full of connections from one film to the next. The Sherlock Holmes film, similarly, rewards both the fans of the original stories and the careful viewing of the previous film. The mere mention of a peace conference at reichenbach falls sends chills down the spine of the Sherlock fans in the audience early in the film, and the death of Irene Adler has a strong payoff for viewers of the previous incarnation in this series.
- Brains vs. Brawn. The innovation of the Guy Ritchie Holmes movies has been, of course, the voice-over analysis of fights that make fisticuffs into the same deductive exercise as the solving of a murder. Thus, we can make Holmes into an action hero. In his battle with Moriarty, we come to see both men as superb intellectuals and fighters. By contrast, Thor seems the classic battle between brawn and brains, with the brawny man able to grow into wisdom in the security of his rightful ascension to the throne while the brainy man goes mad with jealousy and trickery. Despite these differences, both films featured beards on only one side of the equation.
- Neither film passes the Bechdel test, though I believe Thor comes close in its conversations between the scientist and her assistant; Thor is never far from the conversation, though.
Both films are enjoyable, though I found Sherlock Holmes much more to my taste.