Julian Howard's review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows wins Find-DVD's competition this May
07 June 2012
Congratulations go to Julian Howard for sending in the winning DVD review to our competition this May. Last month we received quite a few very good competition entries but it ended up being an elite group of around six reviews which made it into the final selection. The reviews from last month's competition were written for a diverse range of DVD titles and these included; 24: Series 4, The Help, Stargate S.G. 1 - Series 1-10 - Complete/The Ark Of Truth/Continuum, Earth 3D, Moulin Rouge, The Smurfs and Thor among many others. Julian Howard's review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (see below), however, caught our review judge's attention this time so it is Julian who is the lucky winner of May's Competition. We have heard he was delighted when he found out he had won and has already received his wonderful prize – Amazon vouchers worth £100!
If you would like to try your hand at our competition and be in with a chance of winning this month's (June's) prize which will be another £100 worth of Amazon vouchers, why not send in an entry. If you have a look at the competition page you will see there are step by step instructions of how to go about entering – it couldn't be simpler. You can write a review about any DVD that can be found on our site. It can be from any genre, from any year, for any age group, about a film, TV series, children's cartoon, documentary, keep fit DVD – ANYTHING you like. It can be about the best DVD you have ever watched, or about one you couldn't even sit through the first half hour of - plus any that fall in between these extremes.
As we have advised you to do many times before – have a quick look at a selection of reviews sent in by past winners and at some of the ones already sent in as entries this month – it will help you to gauge the quality of reviews sent in by others and to get an idea of what makes a Find-DVD winning review. It certainly IS worth having a go. We have £100 worth of vouchers to give away this month – someone is going to be the lucky winner and it COULD be YOU!
Some of our favourite reviews last month included;
The Help – reviewed by Andrea Chettle – "if you are looking for a compelling, thought provoking, funny film that will entertain and inform you then I cannot recommend this film highly enough"
Haywire – reviewed by Kashif Ahmed – "'Haywire' will appeal to fans of the spy thriller and offers an interesting take on the genre; a good movie, and definitely worth a look"
Tyrannosaur – reviewed by George Orton "you owe it to yourself to take a break from these comfortable and familiar pursuits and check out one of the most arresting, unpredictable, well-acted and uncompromising films I've seen in many years: Paddy Considine's Tyrannosaur"
Moulin Rouge – reviewed by Matthew Brew – "The real standout for me is Ewan Mcgregor in what I personally think is his best work. He so well shows his character and rather than merely a performance I feel this was an evolution for him"
The Ultimate Avengers 1 +2 – reviewed by Martin Freeman – "this is a must-watch necessity that is absolutely required viewing. And for that reason, the two films in turn deserve every one of the five stars I've given them in this review. Enjoy them both; I know you will"
Old Boy – reviewed by Ross McIndoe – "no matter how the remake turns out, we'll always have the original which is a slightly bizarre but entirely wonderful film, shot so gorgeously that even the most unpleasant spectacle is a joy to watch. It's not for the faint of heart but it is one of the greatest films of the last decade"
W. – reviewed by Kashif Ahmed – "'W.' subtly highlights Bush's failures as both a leader and a human being by using a variety of interesting methods to build up a patchwork of ideas that don't quite work as a whole but make for a reasonable, well-observed biopic. Worth watching once"
Good luck to everyone entering the competition this month - we are looking forward to reading your opinions of the DVDs you have seen. One of you will be £100 better off come June 30th!
Thank you to everyone who took part last month – we really appreciate your input as do many of our Find-DVD visitors who may read what you have written about your DVD when considering making a purchase themselves.
May's winning review – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows reviewed by Julian Howard
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is Guy Ritchie's second Holmes movie after the simply titled 'Sherlock Holmes' of 2009. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law star once more, apparently turning down other projects in order to prioritise working together on the new vehicle. The film itself is not strictly based on any one Arthur Conan Doyle story but takes inspiration from The Final Problem. This need not deter viewers though, because what is clear is that the wit, visual delight and breathless plot mechanism that made the original so good have largely been carried over. The story itself is an intriguing mystery with strong overtones of international conspiracy. Very briefly, Holmes and Watson uncover a plan to bring Europe closer to a war which would inevitably benefit the villainous Professor Moriarty who has cynically invested in industries which would directly benefit from such a conflict, most obviously armaments. The film transports us from turn of the century London to the continent and then Switzerland for its thrilling climax.
While the plot as described provides a firm foundation for this film, it is the dialogue, photography and attention to detail that make it so compelling. In dialogue terms, the exchanges between Holmes and Watson and Holmes and Moriarty are super-witty and you find yourself rewinding to catch every last nuance of what is being said. The photography has Ritchie's signature all over it, especially through the bold use of time slice photography during the incredible escape from the armaments factory. However, the best party trick of them all is the way in which Holmes assesses how he might fare in a fight against any given adversary, only seconds before the fight actually begins. He predicts every move like a chess player with all the possible outcomes and this is played out onto the screen with brutal and violent frankness. This same technique is then used with devastating effect at the very end of the film when for the first time we are led to believe - shock horror! - that Holmes might not come out on top after all. I'll say no more for fear of spoiling it for others.
Next is the attention to detail. I'm trying to avoid the cliché of 'visual feast' but the expression really does describe this film perfectly. The neat marriage of Victoriana and turn of the century cutting edge technology reveals a slew of gadgetry that on the surface looks old and brassy until you realise that is exactly what the modern equivalents are based on. We are treated to early but still highly effective versions of gattling guns, sniper rifles, cars, artillery pieces and even an oxygen inhaler. None of this detracts from the film; instead it enriches it and brings out the schoolboy hobbyist in all of us. "Cool!", I find myself gasping involuntarily as the gattling gun wreaks havoc in the train sequence.
But this isn't purely a gadget movie. No Guy Ritchie film would be complete without a snappy and positive portrayal of some of society's more marginalised and misunderstood members. In this case the Roma Gipsies feature but are given fairer treatment than is usually accorded them in films where a degree of stereotyping has tended to creep in. The subsequent Gipsy campfire party in which Holmes and Watson indulge themselves a little too much is trademark Ritchie and just one of many fascinating off-shoots which the film meanders into without completely losing direction or focus. Stephen Fry also makes a welcome appearance as Holmes's eccentric brother Mycroft; his brief but hilarious performance left me wondering why this British national treasure doesn't choose to do more movie work.
In short, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is another fine effort by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, with sufficient chemistry between the characters and visual amusement to keep the viewer fully engaged right the way through. The jury is out on whether this film is better than the previous; it's almost a pointless debate because plot-wise they are quite different animals, even if stylistically they are similar. If I was being really picky, I might say that the dialogue is 'only' 98% as good as the previous film's, but the ample compensation for that barely noticeable slippage is some incredible set-piece scenes - the aforementioned armaments factory escape being one - and arguably an even more engaging storyline. Either way, it's clear that there is plenty of mileage left in this Sherlock Holmes franchise and we can safely look forward to more instalments in the coming years.
A Selection of DVDs reviewed in our competition recently
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
24: Series 4
Stargate S.G. 1 - Series 1-10 - Complete/The ...
Earth 3D (Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray)
Being Human - Series 4
Those Who Kill