Collider Goes to the Set of SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS; Read a Preview Here

     February 22, 2011


Moriarty (Jared Harris) is sitting at a table inside the Hotel De La Ville in Paris surrounded by people.  He’s reading a newspaper inside the cafe.  After a few seconds, someone walks in to tell him something.  While I can’t hear what they’re saying, the news must be important, as he gets up after hearing it.  As he rises out of the chair, the focus of the shot pulls to an old man sitting at a table in the foreground of the frame.  The man is unremarkable.  He wears a suit of no importance.  He has a long grey beard and long grey hair.  I didn’t notice him until the camera pulled focus.  As Moriarty leaves the room and the man jumps out of his chair, I realize it’s Sherlock Holmes in disguise.

But let me back up a second.

Last month, on the day the Sundance Film Festival started, I got to visit the set of Sherlock Holmes 2 (now called Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) when the production was filming 45 miles outside London at Waddesdon Manor.  While the filming that day was supposed to be taking place in Paris, director Guy Ritchie was using the manor as a stand-in for the city.  The manor was built to look like a French Renaissance-style château, and standing inside the breathtaking building, I understood why they’d want to film there.  Read more about  my visit to the set of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows after the jump.

Sherlock-Holmes-A-Game-of-Shadows-image-Robert-Downey-Jr-Jude-LawSince Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows doesn’t get released until December 16th, Warner Bros. has only given me permission to run a preview of what I saw and learned on set.  They also don’t want me running any of the interviews that I did with Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, producers Susan Downey and Lionel Wigram, and director Guy Ritchie.  However, later this year, you can expect my full set report, all the interviews, and the video blog I recorded with Silas Lesnick from Coming Soon when we got back from set.

Now even though I can’t be specific or use any quotes, I think it’s safe to tell you what I thought after spending the entire day on set: I think Sherlock Holmes 2 is going to be even better than the first film – which I loved.  One of the reasons I feel this way is due to what Jared Harris told us during his interview.  He mentioned that he didn’t want his character to explain everything in some  long winded end-of-the-movie speech which lays out all of his plans.  He wanted Moriarty to be mysterious.  He wanted the audience to be unsure of his reasons.  And that is extremely cool.

In addition to Harris saying all the right things, we got to speak to Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law for about twenty five minutes while they were both in costume as Holmes and Watson.  The way they spoke to us and interacted with one another, you could tell they were extremely happy to be making a sequel to Sherlock Holmes and I can only imagine their enthusiasm will make for great chemistry on screen.

sherlock-holmes-2-movie-image-jude-law-robert-downey-01Of course during the interviews we learned a lot about what the sequel is going to be about, but since I know WB wants us to be vague for now, here’s the official synopsis from the studio:

“Guy Ritchie helms a new action-packed adventure, following the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.), and his longtime trusted associate, Dr. Watson (Law), as they match wits with their arch-nemesis, the criminal genius Moriarty (Harris).”

As you can see, they’re keeping their cards close to their vest.  Just know I’m very excited by what I learned on set, so if you’re a fan of the first film, don’t worry.  They have a great story.

However, while I need to be careful what I say, Matt Goldberg wrote a bit on the film a few months ago when the first images was released and it sums up a lot:

The sequel takes place a year after the events of the first film and sees Holmes in pursuit of Professor Moriarty (Mad Men’s Jared Harris), who “might be the world’s first supervillain”.  The film also introduces Noomi Rapace in her first American role as a “feisty” gypsy named Sim.  Along for the ride is Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes, a character who is, according to producer Susan Downey, “stranger and perhaps even more brilliant,” than Sherlock.  Meanwhile, as Sherlock and Watson pursue Moriarty, Watson is trying to keep his relationship with Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly) afloat.

sherlock_holmes_2_movie_image_noomi_rapace_robert_downey_jr_jude_law_01Finally, in addition to the scene I already told you about, we also got to watch an outdoor action scene being filmed at the end of our set visit.  As we stood around a monitor in a heated tent (it was very cold outside) we watched a dozen horse-drawn carriages and a hundred people react to an explosion that will be added in using CGI.  I won’t say anymore than that for now.  Just know it was very cool to watch and I can’t wait to see it when the film is completed.

Again, I’m sorry I can’t say anymore, but with the film still ten months away, I can understand Warner Bros. wanting us to hold our coverage back.  However, if you’re going to Comic-Con this summer, I’d imagine the studio will unveil some finished footage and possibly have the cast in attendance.   After all, Downey Jr. is a rock star at Comic-Con and he’ll probably be there for The Avengers anyway.

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  • Agent Black

    I really hope there is more of an element of mystery in this film than the 1st, where the only mystery revealed was the science behind Lord Blackwood’s magic tricks.

    Although initially I enjoyed the first movie (despite it’s rather crudely updated take on a legendary character and the annoying fast pace, arguing and explosions totally deviating from the atmosphere of the books) on 2nd viewing it became rather baggy and tiresome towards the ‘dramatic’ climax on Tower Bridge.

    When i first heard of a Holmes update I immediately thought of David Fincher’s Se7en as a template, however with it being Guy Ritchie it’s more Lock, Stock… that said, I don’t want to be too negative but my concern is this will go the same way as Iron Man and hit a brick wall with a formulaic sequel. I hope I’m wrong, but for me the BBC’s Sherlock was a much more interesting anyway. interpretation anyway.

    • drache

      And thus proving you’ve never read the stories yeah the explosions got a little over used but the fact is in the stories there’s a lot of danger. Coached in Victorian terms no doubt but it’s there

      • Agent Black

        To say that I’ve ‘never read the stories’ is a bit strong and rather pointed to the extent that you are calling me a liar.

        I didn’t claim to be an expert, I simply felt the fast pacing and, as you put it, the over-use of explosions was off the track of the Conan Doyle source material.

        I did not dislike the film, I did not say that the essence of the characters were not there because they were, Law and Downey Jr put in terrific performances. I simply implied that a slow burning movie such as Se7en would have been a more faithful recreation of the atmosphere given that a lot of Sherlock Holmes literature draws parallels with the supernatural literature of the time (Poe, MR James etc)

        I am entitled to my opinion.

  • Agent Black

    *a much more interesting interpretation anyway.

  • Alex-mansy

    It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has read Sherlock Holmes that Guy Ritchies has nothing to do with the original, it’s just the same name.

    In that respect it should be enjoyed for what it is. Crying about how Holmes isn’t characterized properly is ridiculous.

    I’m hoping Ritchie makes this film even more his own, since Sherlock is is arguably his world film. (ignoring swept away, that doesn’t count)

    • drache

      I have been reading holmese for 15+ years and I don’t know what you are smoking.

      Because while perhaps not 100% true to the story the movie was completely true to the spirit of Holmes and Watson and their story.

      • Alex-mansy

        If by 100% true in spirit to sherlock holmes you mean 100% guy ritchie Sherlock Holmes.

        Also noone cares if you’ve been reading them for 15 years, the books are surprisingly short.

        Guy ritchies version is way better than that tv Sherlock series though.

  • Justin

    Im glad homes is witty abs quick and not the stuffy douche other renditions made him out to be, abs im glad watson isn’t on the verge of death old anymore. Ritchies holmes is the best

    • Alex-mansy

      The best but the action scenes and hand to hand fighting were far to gratuitous.

      Ritchie should put his thinking cap on and cool it. He’s never been much of an action director, should’t start experimenting on such a major character.

  • Terry

    I couldn’t even finish watching Holmes part 1. It sucked for me. Crap on a stick.

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