Sam Strange Remembers: SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS

Sam Strange tells you how he sold a genius to stupid people.

With all our focus on Batman for the last couple decades, I thought it would be a nice time to reintroduce people to his grandfather, Sherlock Holmes, another crime fighting genius who didn't actually work for a living. Poor Thomas Wayne was merely a carrier of genius rather than recipient.

The problems was picking a method. At first, I figured on television since everyone is so lazy these days you can hardly expect them to leave their houses. Unfortunately, I picked British television. It turns out, the only people willing to watch the BBC are those who also happen to lead healthy, active lifestyles which keep them from watching the BBC.

So then I made an American Sherlock. But because Americans are homophobic, I had to change Watson into a girl. The show is finished and ready to air right now as we speak. All my friends and relatives said they like it. Unfortunately the Television people are holding onto it for fear of massive cultural embarrassment well beyond any damage done to the format by Honey Boo-Boo or the death of Andy Rooney.

I even tried to do one where Sherlock Holmes was a doctor.

Finally I decided on a movie. People still like those if you make trailers where time slows and speeds up a lot and you promise a bunch of explosions. It's not a perfect fit, but it's a profitable one. And since technically Sherlock Holmes isn't a superhero, I was able to sidestep my contractually obligated origin story. In fact, I went one better and made my first Sherlock film the last of a trilogy no one got to see.

So who is this guy? In this iteration, Sherlock Holmes is an amnesiac Tony Stark stranded in a time with no use for his mechanical know-how. So instead of building big robots, he sharpens his ability to deduce shit and spit out relaxed one-liners. In keeping with cinema's greatest characters (of the last decade), he is never worried and never wrong. Even when he screws up, he did it on purpose.

Holmes is so smart, in fact, that he even knows how to fight. See, his deductive ability allows him to close his eyes during a fight and see the future. Stephen Hawking can do this too. It's kind of a godsend for me because it allows me to repeatedly offer two fights for the price of one: The fight that would happen if Holmes were stupid, and the quick one that happens instead.

That's important because I need all the fights I can get. Today's entertainment culture hardly seems suitable for a film about a true brainiac. He also needs to be a badass. But an even bigger challenge looms with Sherlock Holmes. See, idiots tend to erroneously view true genius as stupidity. If everyone out there is as dumb as I hear, how do I communicate Holmes' advanced thought process without speaking Greek to my middle American audiences? Fighting certainly helps the situation. Making everyone else in the film mentally incompetent also helps a great deal. But even better? Just fake it.

Every time Holmes' goes into his thinking mode, I just flash around a bunch of random things in the room. For instance, someone will say, "My word. If Santa Clause is truly as fat as you say, Mr. Holmes, how the dickens did he get down that chimney?" To this, Holmes will blink a lot while the camera focuses on a chipped domino, some spilled paint, cooling coals, an anachronistic copy of TV Guide, some loose bricks and a pound of wet pancake batter. After which, he will calmly reach behind a picture of Ben Johnson and pull a hidden lever to reveal a hidden room. What a smart guy!

If you watch it in slow motion (and only smart people would do that) you'll find the items make no connective sense whatsoever and could never lead Holmes to any gainful logical conclusion. But it looks really good, and audiences just sit back and assume you are smarter than they are, which I am, but only enough to rob them.

This method actually served me throughout the entire plot. I couldn't possibly tell you what happens in this film because I sincerely don't know. But there are a lot of fights and explosions and one-liners and borderline gay porn, but the mystery connecting them is just noise.

I can tell you one thing, though. The film's villain is a frog-faced professor named Moriarity, a so-called Napoleon of Crime played by this guy:

He and Holmes have been playing cat and mouse games for the past couple movies, but for this third film things amp up a bit and "Cat and Mouse" becomes a game called "Shadows,"  which I never bother to teach anyone how to play.

This Moriarity is one dangerous guy. He's elusive and difficult to pin down, a figure of shadows playing a game of shadows with shadows for hands. Holmes has an entire room dedicated to the links between all his crimes. And if he ever needs to double check his facts, he has to walk all the way down to the University where Moriarity works and wait for an entire lecture to end before he can compare notes over a game of chess. (They play silently without a board while simultaneously watching their future hypothetical fist fights in their minds. To anyone who happens to walk by, they look like to lobotomized assholes. But other geniuses and animals sensitive to the UV light spectrum will see a universe of intellectual activity happening.)

Moriarity is just as smart as Holmes, so they spend a lot of time admiring each other and licking their lips. Unfortunately, Holmes has a fake girlfriend and is already dating John Watson. The plot really gets going once a jealous Moriarity kills the fake girlfriend and tries to have Watson assassinated. From this point forward, Sherlock spends pretty much the whole movie trying to protect his lover. Sometimes this requires dressing up like a woman. Sometimes this requires shoving Watson's head between his legs. Sometimes this requires dancing publicly. And sometimes this involves a Rat-Faced Gypsy girl for reasons I don't think I bothered inventing.

Eventually Moriarity makes Sherlock choose between Watson's life or his own. Unwilling to succumb to two awful choices, Sherlock takes matters into his own hands by killing both he and Moriarity at the same time. For real this time, not hypothetically.

This allows John Watson to become a heterosexual doctor again. He gets married and lives happily ever after. The people of London are also quite happy. With Sherlock gone, the local police finally have their confidence back and crime is way down.

Then it turns out Sherlock wasn't actually dead at all. Then Watson shoots him in the head. Then he's dead for real. It's a huge relief.

(three stars)

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