Monday, May 28, 2012

Excellent Video (Spoof) on Sherlock Holmes

Check out this Russian spoof (with subtitles):

The video refers to the Russian adaptation (Sir Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin), Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the Guy Ritchie directed movies (Robert Downey Jr).

Click on the link below to buy the RDJ Sherlock Holmes movie:

Click here to read all my posts about the Russian adaptation of Sherlock HolmesClick here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

TV Review: Sherlock - "The Reichenbach Fall"

Benedict Cumberbatch Martin Freeman and Loo Brealey in The Reichenbach Fall
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman with Loo Brealey as Molly Hooper

Sherlock has become very famous thanks to his recent high profile cases. Moriarty has some truly nefarious plans in store for Sherlock. To achieve his ends, Moriarty deliberately gets arrested and Sherlock is called in as the main witness.  Moriarty gets acquitted thanks to some behind the screen shenanigans. Right after his acquittal, Moriarty pays Sherlock a visit at 221B and promises that he owes Sherlock a fall.

Mycroft had given a lot of information about Sherlock to Moriarty (when he was jailed) in order to gain some information in return. Using the said information, Moriarty has a reporter put the entire life story of Sherlock in print. The catch is that the story paints Sherlock as the man who perpetrated the crimes.

Sherlock works on an abduction case and figures out the location where the abducted kids are being kept. One of the abducted children seems to be highly alarmed by the presence of Sherlock. Sgt Donovan, never a big fan of Sherlock, raises the question: does Sherlock set up the cases that he alone solves time and again without any official help. In the very first episode A Study in Pink, Donovan had warned John to stay away from Sherlock. Credit is due to Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss for providing such a well thought-out character and story arc for the series.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott in The Reichenbach Fall
Sherlock and Moriarty have a face-off

Meanwhile, a reluctant Lestrade has been ordered by his superior to have Sherlock arrested. But Sherlock has no intentions of being incarcerated. Soon Sherlock and John find themselves on the run from the official force, after resisting arrest. Sherlock arranges a meeting with Moriarty atop St Bart's Hospital. Moriarty has already hired sharpshooters to off Lestrade, John and Mrs Hudson unless Sherlock takes the fall which in this case is a literal leap to his death.

Sherlock takes the fall or so John and the rest of the world thinks. We have to wait for the next season for the answer(s).

The newcomer with a significant screen presence is Katherine Parkinson as Kitty Riley, the reporter. Cumberbatch and Freeman continue their solid work. Gatiss and Graves have considerable presence in this episode and as always are a pleasure to watch.

Loo Brealey makes a comeback as Molly Hooper and continues her work as the counterpart of Twilight's Bella Swan with Sherlock as her Edward. The pining on her behalf, the so close yet distant Sherlock. The parallel to the Twilight series is not insignificant, if you ask me!

Katherine Parkinson with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Reichenbach Fall
Katherine Parkinson with Benedict Cumberbatch

Andrew Scott gives yet another over-the-top performance as Moriarty. The script writers have done an amazing job with the way Moriarty plans to discredit Sherlock, but it is the way Moriarty is portrayed that is a big letdown.

For canonically accurate portrayals of Moriarty, I would recommend 
SherlockHolmes: A Game of Shadows and The Mortal Fight. Both Jared Harris and Viktor Yevgrafov gave amazing performances that stayed loyal to their canonical roots.

My favorite parts in the episode:

1. The cameo by the great Douglas Wilmer as an elderly gent in the Diogenes Club. For the uninitiated, Wilmer played Sherlock Holmes in the classic 1964-65 BBC series with Nigel Stock as Dr Watson.

2. Moriarty’s story about Sir Boast-A-Lot - captured perfectly the excessively show-offish nature of this version of Sherlock Holmes.

Douglas Wilmer as a Diogenes Gent in The Reichenbach Fall
Douglas Wilmer in "The Reichenbach Fall"

The stuff that did not really work for me:

1. Despite Sherlock and John being fugitives, they are able to visit the St Bart's hospital and 221 B Baker Street conveniently, without taking any precautions (to the best of my knowledge) whatsoever to avoid getting arrested. This seems quite improbable, considering that Scotland Yard must (logically) be keeping an eye on these 2 places to apprehend the fugitives.

2. Moriarty referring to the original story The Final Problem a gazillion times. Yes we get it; the episode is based on that particular story. 

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock. 

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Image Sources: CumberbatchwebCumberbatchwebThe Sherlock Holmes Society of London and Cumberbatchweb 

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Movie Review: The Dictator (2012)

Sacha Baron Cohen and Ben Kingsley in 'The Dictator'
Sacha Baron Cohen in 'The Dictator'

The movie begins with an introduction to Admiral General Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) who rules the fictional country, Wadiya with an iron fist. Aladeen is a certifiable megalomaniac, who hosts his own version of the Olympic Games, Golden Globe awards and demands complete submission from his countrymen.

His plans to develop nuclear weapons soon incur the ire of the UN and Wadiya is threatened with military intervention. Aladeen decides to pay a visit to the UN headquarters.

Unbeknownst to him, his close ally Tamir (Ben Kingsley) has been plotting for quite a while to dispose of the much-hated dictator and bring democracy to his nation. The upcoming visit to the US proves to be a very tempting chance to finally achieve his goal and Tamir plan to replace Aladeen with a decoy.

The plan does not go as expected and Aladeen escapes with his life and finds himself penniless on the streets of NY and has also lost his infamous beard to boot!

As per his plans, Tamir performs the switch and plans to declare democracy at the UN summit. Aladeen is determined to regain his throne and ensure that democracy is not ushered in Wadiya.

Anna Faris with Sacha Baron Cohen in 'The Dictator'
Anna Faris with Sacha Baron Cohen in 'The Dictator'
Cohen is back with his frequent collaborator Larry Charles to deliver yet another exercise in absolute irreverence. Nothing is sacred or beyond reproach as far as this movie is concerned. Spoofing recent world events in addition to their usual targets (religious/national/cultural stereotypes), the movie also has scenes with humor of an extremely infantile nature. Private parts are on abundant display and even a romantic scene between the leads has some groan-inducing moments.

Jason Mantzoukas plays the character of Nadal, a former top scientist in Wadiya and has some excellent scenes with Cohen. The scenes where these two talented actors share the screen are easily the highlights of the movie and help the movie overcome the lazy script. The scene at a cafe in NY where Aladeen comes close to being lynched and comes up with made-up names (by reading the various instructions and signs posted inside the cafe) is a genuine piece of rib-tickling comedy without any gross/vulgar undertones.

Click on the link below to buy your copy:

Anna Faris has been cast as Zoey, the requisite female lead and does her best with the role. Sir Ben Kingsley reminds us that even actors need to pay their bills.

In addition to Megan Fox, Ed Norton has a cameo as well.

Megan Fox and Sacha Baron Cohen in 'The Dictator'
Megan Fox and Cohen in 'The Dictator'

It is an out and out star vehicle for Cohen. He has a very unique brand of humor as evidenced in his previous movies, especially Borat. If this is your cup of tea, the movie is right up your alley. If that is not the case, the movie will disgust and amuse you in equal turns.

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Image Sources: Ain't It Cool NewsIndiewireScreenrant

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Monday, May 14, 2012

TV Review: Sherlock - "The Hounds of Baskerville"

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Watson in The Hounds of Baskerville
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson
Holmes is in between cases and as is his wont, starts craving for artificial mental stimulants. Watson does his best to dissuade Holmes from his drug intake and is relieved when Henry Knight arrives at 221 B with his case.

The case in question is arguably the most popular novel in the Sherlock Holmes Canon: The Hound of the Baskervilles. As was the case with A Study in Scarlet, the canonical novel has been updated for a modern adaptation.

Henry has recurring memories of his father being killed by a hound 20 years ago. Henry returns to the place of his father's demise and claims to have seen the footprints of a gigantic hound. Holmes is quite dismissive of Henry's beliefs in the existence of a hound, but his interest is nevertheless piqued and takes up the case. Holmes and Watson soon arrive at Dartmoor and Watson does some sleuthing of his own in a local café.

Instead of the Baskerville Hall, we have a military complex. Barrymore, Lyons, Frankland and Stapleton work at the complex. Dr Mortimer though still remains the same except for the fact he is now a she (a trait shared with the character of Stapleton). The escaped convict Selden does not directly appear in the episode but does contribute to a cheeky moment.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes faces the Hound in The Hounds of Baskerville
Sherlock comes face to face with a nightmare

Sherlock uses Mycroft’s credentials to sneak into the military complex. Sherlock and Watson discover that there is a lot of research and testing going on, that may or may not be related to the hound. Soon their adventure is cut short and the cheerful Dr Frankland comes to their rescue by (wrongly) confirming Sherlock’s identity as Mycroft.

There is a little mystery involving Dr Stapleton as well, that confirms Sherlock’s suspicions that there is some genetic testing going on at the complex.

Soon Sherlock encounters the cause of Henry's fear and is forced to reevaluate the case. Sherlock copes with the emotion of fear and overcomes it soon enough to solve the mystery. Mark Gatiss has done a fine job of reworking the original story.

There are quite a number of clues spread throughout the episode that astute viewers would have noticed. I will not reveal the resolution, except to note that readers familiar with the canon will be reminded of The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot.

Russell Tovey as Henry Knight in The Hounds of Baskerville
Russell Tovey as Henry Knight
Cumberbatch gets to display his acting chops as the character of Sherlock evolves further in the second season. Freeman provides ample support as Watson. Russell Tovey makes an impressive Henry Knight, the man who has been scarred for life after witnessing his father getting killed. Rupert Graves has a bigger role in this episode and as always delivers a nice performance.

Mark Gatiss is a gifted writer and has a fine command over the language. From the reworking of the episode title to renaming Sir Henry Baskerville to Henry Knight and the term HOUND, Gatiss has woven a fine web of word play.
Now on to the trivia section. I caught the following references to the original stories:
1.   The Adventure of Black Peter (Holmes’s appearance at 221 B with a harpoon)
2.   The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (Holmes placing a bet with a local guide to get some information)
3.   The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter ("Mycroft is the British Government")
4.   The Sign of the Four (“When you have eliminated everything that is impossible, the remaining however improbable must be the truth”)
5.   The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot  (I will leave it to the readers to figure this one out)

The episode is easily the best of the season and returns Holmes to his Doylean roots. This is my favorite episode so far after A Study in Pink.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.

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Monday, May 7, 2012

TV Review: Sherlock - "A Scandal in Belgravia"

Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler in A Scandal in Belgravia
Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler

This episode is a modern update of A Scandal in Bohemia.  While the series itself is contemporary take on the classic stories, the character of Irene Adler has been given the extreme makeover. 

Irene Adler has morphed from an adventuress into a dominatrix who is bisexual as well. She is the one to rescue Sherlock and Watson from their precarious situation at the end of the first season. 

Soon, Sherlock and Watson take on a royal blackmail case which involves Irene. The episode rambles on with Sherlock and Irene playing a game of cat and mouse, taking turns to outwit each other. The climactic scene features Sherlock deciphering the key to unlock Irene’s smartphone. Moriarty makes a brief appearance.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson in A Scandal in Belgravia
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson
The character of Irene Adler is not the only one to get a modern update. The great Mycroft Holmes himself is not immune to the dictates of a “modern” adaptation. Mycroft is still employed by the British Government; it is his relationship with his younger brother that bears the brunt. Mycroft and Sherlock have a very antagonistic relationship in this series.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss as Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Homes in A Scandal in Belgravia
The Holmes brothers

In the Canon, Sherlock and Mycroft share a mutually respectful relationship towards each other. They do not gush around each other, but they do have a lot of respect and goodwill for each other. The Granada series, the Russian series and SherlockHolmes: A Game of Shadows captured the essence of this relationship nicely.

Click on the link below to buy your copy of Season 2:

The Granada series in particular knocks this one out of the park and I recommend the episode “The Greek Interpreter”. The scene in the Diogenes Club, where Watson meets Mycroft for the first time is pitch-perfect and Charles Gray is just amazing as Mycroft in this episode as well as in the series.

The episode has references to some of the original stories: The Greek Interpreter (The Geek Interpreter), The Speckled Band (The Speckled Blonde) and The Adventure of the Illustrious Client. 

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock. 

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Image Sources: CumberbatchwebCumberbatchwebFanpop

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The latest trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is out

I enjoyed the first two movies and the trailer has confirmed my hopes that this trilogy will be one of my favorites, on par with the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Chris Nolan seems to have the Midas touch. I have seen all of his movies except The Prestige and Following. Nolan has a knack for making engrossing psychological thrillers. The Batman movies are not an exception. In the first movie, Bruce Wayne dealt with fear. In the sequel, he had to deal with the anarchy unleashed by the Joker.

In the trilogy finale, he deals with the destruction brought on by the masked terrorist, Bane. Speculations have been rampant ever since the first teaser came out in July 2011, as to whether the Dark Knight will bite the dust.

Fans of the Caped Crusader will be familiar with the infamous storyline ‘Knightfall’ in which Bane systematically breaks down Batman both physically and mentally and finally literally breaks his back. Whether the movie will follow the same plot is debatable, I for one certainly do not think that Batman will be mortally wounded. It is after all his movie and the title also suggests otherwise. My personal opinion is that Bruce Wayne will either pass on the mantle to someone else or possibly go underground and create “Batman Incorporated”.

Christian Bale continues his stellar work as the titular character. The same praise applies to Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman reprising their roles as Lucius Fox, Alfred Pennyworth and Jim Gordon respectively. These men are the few allies, Batman can rely on in his relentless fight on crime in Gotham.

As was the case with Aaron Eckhart and the late Heath Ledger with the second movie, the focus this time is mainly on Tom Hardy as Bane and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard also have supporting roles and have managed to arouse the curiosity among the fans about their possible dual identities.

Last but not the least, it is also speculated that Ra's al Ghul will make a cameo appearance. With such a strong ensemble cast, Nolan's record of making critically acclaimed movies, Hans Zimmer's music and the rest of the talented crew, July 20 2012 can’t come soon enough...

I would like to hear from the readers on their thoughts about the movie or the ending in particular. Please use the comments section to voice your thoughts.

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