TV Review: Sherlock, The Sign of Three

20140106-152537.jpg

The second episode of Sherlock focused more on comedy and the building of characters and character relationships than any episode thus far. Based around the wedding of Watson and Mary, the show has chosen to shake up its format slightly; rather than the linear storyline that we usually enjoy The Sign of Three is formatted around a series of flashbacks to previous cases all presented by Sherlock during his best man speech. While it is admirable that Stephen Thompson has the courage to try something new with a TV show that has such militant fans, he unfortunately fell a little short this week.

Somehow the flashback sequences weren’t strong enough to carry an audiences attention in the same way the usual story-arc can; the use of multiple short stories is definitely strong in the history of Conan-Doyle’s detective but these stories just didn’t come together in a clever enough way to countenance such a radical change in formula.

While the format was clunky there were some stand out sequences, particularly the stag night. Sherlock . . . on a stag night – it’s better than you could ever imagine. What starts out as a night driven by a mathematically worked out alcohol intake ends with Sherlock and Watson drunkenly out on the case of a ghostly boyfriend. Cumberbatch and Freeman are hilariously accurate as a drunken duo, their bleary eyed concentration matched only by the brilliant composition of the shots with half the screen often out of focus, fading in and out in line with the duos drunkenness.

Despite his self proclaimed “high functioning sociopath” status Sherlock rises to the challenge of being best man admirably: YouTubing napkin designs, arranging seating plans and interviewing (and intimidating) ex boyfriends. All of which is done which the usual Sherlock awkward brilliance.
The Sign of Three is one of the funniest episodes of Sherlock so far, so it’s a shame that the dramatic elements fell so flat with a frankly weak murder plot made even weaker by the fact that 40% of the people I watched it with got it way before Sherlock!

Mary Marston, however, really came into her own in this episode, Abbington’s flawless (and unsurprising) chemistry with real-life partner Freeman made the episode for me – perhaps overtaken by Mary’s effortless manipulation of both Sherlock and Watson, always in their best interests of course! Her easy charm and unflappable nature make her a more that welcome addition to the team.

Though episode two was more patchy than usual, a strong comic stream runs through the whole episode and the style of the whole piece is as innovation and intriguing as ever but the flashback formula just didn’t gel. While the seemingly inconsequential anecdotes Sherlock throws out in his best man speech do come together to form a bigger picture, the writer has perhaps not been clever enough neglecting to lay the breadcrumbs for the audience to follow. While the bigger, more obvious murder plot is playing on the audiences mind the less interesting ones fall away leaving the big reveal with a feeling of unwelcome familiarity – none of the information is entirely new. The whole episode was very much like having a McDonalds meal – thoroughly enjoyable while eating but twinged with a sense of disappointment after you’ve finished. While the episode was very entertaining, the unraveled murder plot left more than a few questions unanswered when looking back.

Advertisements

DVD Releases I Missed This Week

Everyone drops the ball now and the then, but this week was particularly impressive. Not 1 but FOUR amazing films released on DVD and I only write about one of them?! Not good! So here are the other three …

paperboy

1. The Paperboy. Featured in my Top 5 Films of the Year so Far (here) this dark, swampy thriller is perhaps one of the most underrated releases this year. Starring Nicole Kidman, John Cusack and Zac Efron it’s well worth a watch.

The-place-beyond-the-pines

2. The Place Beyond The Pines. Also found in my Top 5 List (here) The Place Beyond The Pines has been one of the most confusing films I’ve seen this year – Perfect through two thirds of its epic story and then thoroughly disappointing for the rest. Definitely worth renting though, even if you turn it off when the “10 years later” screen appears.

side-effects-movie-cast-banner

3. Side Effects. Not the best film released this year but by no means the worst. An entertaining thriller with a confused and rushed ending that will leaving you going “huh?!” and not necessarily in a good way. I wouldn’t rush back to see this movie again but worth a watch on a rainy night in.

Want to read more on each film? Click the title to be transported across the web to my original reviews!

Star Wars: Episode VII To Be Filmed In The UK

star_wars_35305

After talks with Chancellor George Osbourne, Lucasfilm today announced that Star Wars: Episode VII will be filmed in the UK. The newest offering from the well loved franchise will have at least 25% of the total production filmed in Britain after the chancellor agreed a tax break for the film which will bring work to several UK studios.

Osbourne said “I think it is a real vote of confidence in Britain’s creative industries and a big movie like that – one of the most famous, perhaps the most famous movie franchise in the world – brings with it not just jobs for actors and directors and so on, but for all the other people who have put together an enormous movie.”

As well as using UK studios there have been rumours of locations within Britain such as the Highlands and the Isle of Skye being used.

While Lucasfilm hasn’t confirmed any sites as yet, the fan site Jedinews has proposed that Pinewood, home to the legendary Harry Potter sets, could be one of the studios being considered.

Warwick Davis, who played Wicket in Return Of The Jedi said “I think that it’s Star Wars coming back to its roots, it’s where it started all those years ago in 1976,” he said. “It’s really where Star Wars was kind of born I suppose, and it’s nice that it’s coming back.”

webshop_wicket_&_leia

As Davis states filming for previous Star Wars movies, especially the original trilogy took place in the UK, so it’s nice to have them home again!

Proposed release date for Star Wars: Episode VII is set for 2015.

Behind the Scenes – Star Trek ‘Into Darkness’

I’m basically treating this film as JJ Abrams’ audition to convince me personally he is up to the job of tackling Star Wars . . .

Because if I’m honest his first Star Trek effort didn’t fill me with confidence.

Saying that this one looks awesome, definitely one to see in 3D.

Release date: 17th May 2013

Liberal Arts Dir. Josh Radnor (DVD Release Date 25/2/13)

liberal-arts02

Character-driven films can be tricky as they rely almost exclusively on individual actors and their ability to convince. Thankfully, that is not something either Josh Radnor or Elizabeth Olsen lack: the 94 minutes fly by as we follow the story of Jesse (Radnor) and Zibby (Olsen).

Liberal Arts is an examination of three generations and how they affect each other: Professor Peter Hoberg (Richard Jenkins) is on the edge of an unwelcome retirement, his former student Jesse is stuck in the transition to adulthood and 19-year-old Zibby is bursting with the exuberance of youth. Jesse and Zibby’s atypical and old-fashioned flirtation –through classical music and hand-written letters – allows the veil of age to fall away and their relationship to burgeon. However the difference in age soon becomes a constant shadow hanging over Jesse: he is caught in limbo, feeling 19 but knowing he has to grow up.

A discussion of ageing and our coming to terms with it might seem a little much for 90-odd minutes, but Josh Radnor, who wrote and directed the film, manages to pull it off. The characters’ lives interweave effortlessly, and the university campus provides the perfect background for an examination of the different stages of life.

This could be a heavy piece, yet it successfully combines the chemistry between the lead characters and a thread of quiet humour that flows through the whole film. Liberal Arts is a small story about what it is to age, but it comes alive through a perceptive portrayal of generation, and above all through the sheer likeability of the characters.

With the DVD release coming up this is definitely one to look out for, it’s heart warming charm is enough to brighten up any dull day.