Sunday, 25 November 2012

Alabama Shakes Live Review

The last time Alabama Shakes were in town, they blew the roof off The Boston Arms in London and hit their stride on the summer festival circuit, leaving revellers eager for more. So, having returned to Europe for a string of headlining dates, did they quench the thirst of their steadily increasing fan base?

Playing to a sold out crowd of hipsters, boys and girls, and those looking for some southern soul at The Forum in Kentish Town, the Shakes definitely upped the ante. Opening with The Squidbillies Theme and Hang Loose, throughout the course of the night they predominantly stuck to the track list off their debut record, but turned down the pace to give a fresh take on a now well received and loved album.

Stand out tracks of the night included the effortlessly beautiful Rise To The Sun, and the impenetrable build of Be Mine – which gave way to a sweaty swathe of joy from the crowd. At one point lead singer Brittany Howard threw her guitar across the stage – which with any other band would be construed as a rock and roll cliché, but here it was completely endearing. Drummer Steve Johnson literally turned up the heat by setting his cymbals on fire, and from this moment it was clear they had cut loose.

More confident yet not arrogant, self aware yet not ironic, the honest and heartfelt vibes that came from the Shakes were over far too quickly, and as the night drew to a close it’s clear the band were ending months of touring on a well earned high.

There are so many bands today that come and go, where their style easily changes with the weather. Gutless and afraid to take risks. Alabama Shakes have unapologetically struck a nerve with those ready for bullshit free tunes. And you know what? Like everyone at the Forum, I can’t wait to hear more.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Skills, Smells and Spells: Photography Exhibition by Toby Deveson

Negrabox, Brighton Festival May 1995

Toby Deveson is knackered. He’s also a gatecrasher. The latter possibly accounting for the former. But when we meet at London’s Southbank Centre one blustery May morning, the only signs that this Italian born, London residing photographer is slightly worse for wear are the shades of grey circulating below his eyes, and his choice of drink (green tea) as we hanker down to talk amidst the formation of what appears to be a two piece concerto.

There’s a good reason he’s knackered though. The photographer has been preparing for his upcoming exhibition, Skills, Smells and Spells which will reside at The Strand Gallery from the 28th May through 3rd June, and as he compares this to the preparation for his previous exhibition back in 1994, he certainly doesn’t remember there being so much to do. But what becomes apparent during our conversation is that this man is anything but a quitter, or resentful for the work he’s taken on. “Once you start you can’t stop really, as soon as you’ve committed yourself that’s it.” Self funded and almost entirely self promoted (Deveson’s application to The Arts Council was rejected, so he has been funding the event himself and through donations via the Indiegogo site), this exhibition really is a labour of love. So why now?

“I’m old enough now to think fuck it, if you want me, to see what my work is like, this is how I’m going to do it. This is my voice.” His voice is something he’s been developing over the past 20 years, documenting landscapes since he picked up his weapon of choice – the Nikkormat (his first, and only 35mm camera), given to him by his father. Simple and without pretension, Deveson shoots only in black and white, coupled with a solid and wide 24mm lens. Keeping his eyes firmly open, so we don’t miss a beat.

How did this exhibition at The Strand, which showcases the analogue photographer’s vast back catalogue, get off the ground then? “I was walking past and saw somebody else’s private view and gate crashed that with a friend. And it’s just a really nice space, so I contacted them.” Seems simple enough then, right?

You could say this exhibition, which fully captures the sensory nature of Deveson’s photography, has been a work in progress since he first pressed the shutter to that old Nikkormat and started his journey as an artist. But don’t let the idea of landscapes fool you. “A lot of these pictures aren’t those big, clichéd landscapes, some are from the side of a road in Norway or outside London. They’re little microcosms that could be anywhere, and I love that.”

Skills, Smells and Spells reflects his personality, and during our time together it becomes clear his landscapes aren’t your average click by numbers. “I’m not hanging around for the sun to come up. If I’m passing through somewhere and it’s foggy, rainy or sunny, I will try and document the landscape. So to me it doesn’t make any difference if I’m interacting with people or with nature, but over the years you have images that become personal favourites.”

Holi Festival, India, March 2011

His exhibition isn’t just the pick of his best work, but rather the careful selection of 40 shots, which determine Deveson’s style, voice and character. He’s driven by sensory, rather then purely visual experiences. With a style that ranges from the Holi festival in India to an orphanage in Romania, what’s captured is not contrived emotion, but an innocent charm, which has made his photography all the more compelling. Describing his work at Holi to look more like “a war zone rather than a celebration – you wouldn’t have seen the proximity or terror and joy in colour”, by shooting in black and white he’s able to document rather than make his subjects subjective, all without losing his own voice in a given shot. That’s no easy task. Sure he’s learnt a lot from his mistakes along the way – and admits developing his prints in Romania was “an absolute nightmare”, paying the price for every time he makes a reprint. But Deveson wouldn’t have it any other way – each reprint takes him back to the moment he pressed the shutter, and no two prints are ever the same. His art is constantly evolving.

The influx of social networking has made everyone with a smart phone an amateur photographer. Anyone can post a million snaps of the same subject, adjust with a number of filters here, a different lens there, to individualise a picture of quite literally anything. From your shoes to whatever you ate that day. We can now all socially comment on how awesome we are at pointing and pressing. Does Deveson ever wish for an easier life then, and go digital?

“No! It’s quite frustrating because people will look at a photograph of a celebrity or a famous situation and go ‘wow, that’s an amazing photograph!’ and you want to scream and say ‘no it’s not, it’s the subject.’ It’s actually a mediocre photograph of an amazing sunset or an amazing person, and the actual photograph itself isn’t very good and that’s the challenges of photography – to incorporate yourself in the picture.”

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to step into a dark room (and if you haven’t, it’s worth a visit) you will know the distinctive sensory experience that comes from developing your own prints. The chemicals, the darkness, the paper (Deveson works with matt paper, a sign of a classic photographer) and how all three come together, magically, to make for not your average 9-5. No print is the same, just as no eye, smell, sound or taste. Although we can never really be sure anyone interprets art the same way, what’s important is that we’re still interpreting, still learning and still exploring. For that, Deveson celebrates the intrepid innocence in us all, eager to keep the magic of photography exciting.
Romania, September 1992

For more information on Toby Deveson’s exhibition – Skills, Smells and Spells, visit Toby's website here and The Strand Gallery from 28th May to 3rd June 2012. You can also tweet Toby here

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dark Shadows (2012) Movie Review

Tim Burton does isolation well. Look at most of his flics and nearly all the leads are lost, confused and set apart from the rest of town/village/hollow in which they reside. So it seems fitting then, that Burton continues his trend of misplaced belonging in his re-imagined world of Dark Shadows-loosely based on the late 1960s TV show of the same name.

Role call is in full swing for Burton regulars Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Danny Elfman who all come together in this tale of Barnabas Collins (Depp), a wealthy port owner during the 1700s cursed into a vampire and buried alive by ex girlfriend and witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green, channelling Death Becomes Her). Angelique sends his true love Josette DuPres (Bella Heathcote) off a cliff when she realises he’s just not into her-possessive is an understatement. Two centuries pass and Barnabas is back, this time it’s the 1970s and he’s determined to restore his family’s name and good fortune.

What sets Dark Shadows apart from the rest of Burton’s catalogue of misfits is Depp’s Barnabas-he’s no meek and innocent hard done by lead. Sure his ex girlfriend has taken over the town in which he and his family built from the ground up-but he’s no pushover. Barnabas is strong, charming and a bit of a player. Trapped for two hundred years under the ground has done nothing to dampen his ego, or libido. That aside Shadows is a strange mix of classic Burton unease, edged so delightfully along by Elfman’s score. It’s almost surprising then when a Barry White track pops up during a sex scene, or Alice Cooper cameos for slightly too long during a town party.

Michelle Pfeiffer, reunited with her Batman director after 20 years is on fire as Elizabeth Collins, the head of the current Collins household and vamps up her role easily as she comes to terms with Barnabas’ situation. Helena Bonham Carter could play Dr Julia Hoffman with her eyes closed- a cooky psychiatrist who’s problem with the bottle is the least of her worries. The trouble is there’s too much plot going on that we never really get to sink our teeth fully into each character, who are with credit, a little off the mark. But that’s the joy of most soap operas, you want to tune into the next episode as the hooks are always there. The downside to Burton’s Dark Shadows is the soap is all there, but the opera is a little half baked.

An enjoyable romp through Burton at his most relaxed and fun, whether you’re into the original TV show or not, it’s worth a watch even if this Dark Shadows is too cinematic to be washed out.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (2012) Review

This light hearted documentary recounts the career of Kevin Clash, the man behind the iconic puppet Elmo, taking a look at his rise to fame from small time puppet maker in Baltimore to a highly paid and respected member of the Sesame Street gang.

Underneath all the felt faces and goggly eyes of the brightly coloured puppets, there’s a darkness that could have turned this doc into a much more compelling story. The isolation, abandonment and disappointment between Clash and his family as a man who never seems to be available for them is missed by director Constance Marks, who fails to delve deeper into levels of emotion other than the joy Elmo brings to kids. What really shines here is the commitment Clash has for his lifelong passion as a puppeteer, the determination (and success) he had to work with his idol Jim Henson, and the opportunities he took and missed along the way. In hindsight, the crumbling relationships around him would have made for a more intriguing subject matter: a man in such high demand he missed out on most of the important moments in his child’s early life, and the deterioration of his marriage.

One for puppet fans out there with an interest in how the creatures are made, developed and performed. It’s all very nice and respectful, much like the brilliant TV shows by Jim Henson. Just don’t expect any hard hitting dirt.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Cabin In The Woods Review (2012)

Jock? Check. Slut/geek/virgin/intellectual? Total check. Yep, it looks like the directorial debut for Drew Goddard (Lost, Cloverfield) and co-writer Joss Whedon (Avengers Assemble, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) have nailed the classic teen horror franchise in their sleep – possibly between more time consuming projects. If you’ve seen the trailer however, you’ll have a hint that not all is what it seems. If you’ve actually seen the movie, then all bets are off. This is where if you haven’t seen the movie, step away from the review and come back when you have. Go on. Right, now we’re alone (wait, have you stopped reading?! You there, with the face! GO!) Let’s get to it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, curious reader…

So The Cabin in the Woods – from the outset does exactly what it says in the title. There’s a group of attractive all American college kids ready to embark on a break from studying to drink, smoke and take part in illicit consensual acts in a remote cabin, in the woods. Of course the road to the cabin is dusty, and the further these horny teens get to their destination the further from civilization they part. There’s even a hostile hillbilly hick waiting for them at what appears to be an abandoned gas station, primed to warn them of possible terrors heading their way. So far, cut, copy and paste any number of teen slashers out there over the past 30 years.

What makes The Cabin in the Woods so darn entertaining though is not the horror, though the jumps are well marked and well received, or the fact that we think we know what to expect. The entertainment comes from a place where this flic is pure satirical entertainment, completely self-aware and tongue in cheek, but at no point does the tone become self-deprecating or farcical, like say, most horrors out there. It pays great homage to cult classics of yonder too - many over the top references to Evil Dead have no problem slapping you in the face with a cold, very much alive, dead severed hand.

The writing duo really aren’t trying to scare you, but rather employ tried and tested tactics to prove that as cinema goers, we buy into a certain hype, be it blockbusters (hello Whedon’s Avengers) comedies (American Pie: The Reunion) or rom-coms (The Five Year Engagement). We like to know what we’re getting ourselves into. We like to be proven right. But every once in a while, it’s beyond refreshing to be shown that there’s still fun, surprises and different ways to re-tell tried and tested stories that bring a smile and satisfaction to those happy to hang out with the sticky multiplex floor.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Never Let Me Go Review (2010)

Never Let Me Go, the bleak British drama stars Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield as three lost souls in search of who they are, and what they are, before their time is up.

Aesthetically mundane, American director Mark Romanek has nailed the drab English tone of this characteristically British story perfectly - the majority of the film set somewhere in the dank and miserably Midlands. Adapting Kazou Ishiguro’s novel for the screen is Alex Garland, who flits easily between teen angst and the sobering realisation that life, death, and everything in between happens very, very quickly. There's no rest bite when dealing with the heavily set themes, and by placing them directly in an all too familiar environment, it's an uncomfortable watch.

The love triangle between the three leads is played with such eloquence and tragedy, their existence is all the more heartbreaking. Carey Mulligan really excells in her role as Kathy, the slightest of looks defies a thousand emotions, and gives Knightley a run for her money, who does well as best friend Ruth. Garfield is perfectly cast as the meek Tommy, stuck between the two women and a destiny beyond any of their control.

What makes Never Let Me Go apt is it’s ability to thrust uncomfortable emotions into the forefront of conscious thought, rather than whisk them away into an unrealistic life affirming conclusion. Perhaps not one for the whole family, it's definitely worth a watch to remind us all how fleeting life really is.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Casa De Mi Padre Review (2012)

Self aware and indulgent, Will Ferrell’s Spanish only speaking comedy (bar a few ‘American’ lines) Casa De Mi Padre is at risk of isolating the core Apatow demographic, which isn’t necessary a bad thing. Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, a romantic Mexican ranger who’s younger brother Raul, (the brilliant Diego Luna) brings shame and corruption to his family. Enter a barrage of ridiculous Mexican archetypes: drug lords, corrupt cops (Nick Offerman is wasted in his borderline cameo role), shoot outs and excessive smoking.

Taken lightly Casa is thoroughly entertaining, if a little off centre to the lengths writer Andrew Steele will go to for a few laughs. There are obvious references to Grindhouse, but it’s unclear whether these are in jest or left unfinished as a poor attempt to hit the mark. A mark so easily scored in the Tarantino and Rodriguez double bill: Planet Terror/Death Proof, both of which were seriously underrated.

Verdict: One for the hardcore Farrell fans out there with added Jim Henson puppetry, Casa De Mi Padre it’s a cut above your average Adam McKay comedy and shows a real slice of Ferrell at his best. Now if only the rest of his comedy crew could keep up.

Goodbye, First Love – ‘Un amour de jeunesse’ Review (2012)

Everyone remembers their first love. Painfully so, with precise cringe-worthy detail how for that moment in time they were consumed entirely with this unbreakable bond, sure to last forever. Sadly (or not) for some, not every match is made in heaven, and that’s precisely the case for the young leads in Mia Hansen-Løve’s Goodbye, First Love.

Set predominantly in Paris, Goodbye centres on 15 year old Camille, an intense, demanding teen (relative newcomer Lola Créton) deeply in love with lothario Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky, The Way Back). It’s obvious from both the title and the outset that there won’t be any wedding bells here.

This is no Hollywood rom-com, but a French drama that although set in the most romantic city in the world, location is downplayed and put into realistic context: there is a dank teenage bedroom (Sullivan’s) and obsessive attention is placed on objects when the two leads are separated (Camille). The supporting cast of each family does well to bring tone and depth to the stark surroundings.

Goodbye is a far departure from Love’s feature debut, the critically acclaimed drama Father Of My Children, a well received and brutal portrayal of a family torn apart by suicide. The film was based on the actions of producer Humbert Balsan, who took his own life in 2005.

In Goodbye, the two leads do well to bring an intense, claustrophobic and at times unbearable performance. The main draw is Camille, but her plight is neither that heartbreaking or unequivocally empowering. Her arc is however what keeps the narrative afloat, close attention paid to her physical changes with her emotional highs and lows. It’s a shame Sullivan was not given the same detail, but he is sadly both inconsequential and all encompassing, making a frustrating conclusion.

Verdict: A little long in the tooth, this self-aware romp into the lives of two adolescent’s is both charming and full-bodied, without the Hollywood saccharine overload.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Alabama Shakes Live Review (2012)

If you weren’t at last night’s Alabama Shakes gig - their first performance of three in the UK having set up a three night residency at The Boston Arms in London - you missed a damn fine soul driven explosion of sweat, sweet tunes and a taste of Alabama’s finest. Opening with Goin' to The Party, the Shakes instantly had a comfortable swagger cramped onto one of the smallest stages used for a five (when live) piece band. They weren’t going to the party, they’d arrived.

The Shakes played a staggering 15 songs during their set for over an hour, mixing tracks off their debut record Boys and Girls with a couple of new ones, and a cover of Led Zeppelin’s How Many More Times for good measure. Their current single Hold On saw the crowd tear the roof a new hole as the hipsters got fully immersed in lead singer Brittany Howard’s distinctive southern drawl. She’s got a dang good set of pipes, and it’s clear the whole band were having a blast. Heck even Russell Crowe was there, getting his funk on.

Touring a debut record is a tough slog for any band, especially when you’re bringing the sound from across the pond. But Alabama Shakes have all the makings to hit the big time. Last night they showed this town how to party - Alabama style - and will continue for the next two nights at The Boston Arms. Their soul infused rock is simply infectious. Last night wails of “We love you Brittany!” were heard and acknowledged by Howard with a sly nod. The Shakes won’t be back in the UK until May, and then later this summer when they appear on a number of festival bills, so if you don’t see them this week, you’ll have to wait, but just hold on as they’ll be back real soon.

Friday, 17 February 2012

The Woman In Black (2012) Review

The Woman in Black marks the revamped flourish from the Hammer studio, and a well publicised Harry Potter departure for lead Daniel Radcliffe. Type casting must be a frustrating scenario, and one that Radcliffe hasn’t been able to quite shake just yet. Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a young London lawyer and recently widowed father, who must travel to a remote English village to salvage not only the estate of a recently deceased woman, but also his own salvation for the sake of his boy. Adapted for the screen by Jane ‘Kick Ass’ Goldman of Susan Hill’s 1983 chilling novel, The Woman in Black is a tough story to rework, as not only is Hill’s novel still a popular choice for a haunting read, but it’s already been made into the longest running stage show at London’s Fortune Theatre, since 1989. So how do you adapt an already successful and well received novel into a movie? With difficulty it seems.

Even if you’re not familiar with the brilliantly terrifying story of The Woman In Black, you’d be hard pressed to find a real scare in James Watkins big screen adaptation. A 12A cert, it’s a difficult market to sell to, without scaring the little darlings into a psychosomatic shock, which the novel and stage production have managed to do for a number of years. For one, there are too many characters, each not fully developed enough for anyone to really care about, least of all Radcliffe’s Kipps. He makes a good effort to hide the Potter in him, but the voice just isn’t quite right. A young father and lawyer, there’s no real conviction behind either role in Radcliffe’s eyes. Do his career and child matter that much? Not really.

As for the Woman in Black herself, well, there’s too much of her. Little is left to the imagination, and once you’re past her slightly grubby appearance, she doesn’t look that bad. Not that scary. Which is a shame, as she should leave you terrified to the core, dreading the next moment she may appear. Here, there’s a sense that she just needs a good chat, a hug and cup of tea to set her right. The score sets up the scares far too easily as well, there’s no moment of true terror, and you’re fully prepared for what will be ahead. Horror films are a hard breed to nail, especially at a 12A rating but for the majority, less is more in every sense. For a real scare, check out the theatre show, as you’re sure to be in for a fright or two.

Midnight in Paris (2011) Review

Woody Allen is a lot like Marmite. He writes the majority of his central characters as lost souls, the ones that are aware of it, and they’re usually driven by selfish whims. But realistically, who isn’t? Which is why Allen’s latest, Midnight in Paris, isn’t a far departure from what we’ve come to know and love from the director. Owen Wilson is the latest A Lister to succumb to the Allen charm where he plays Gil, a frustrated throwaway screenwriter who whilst on vacation with his girlfriend Inez (Rachel McAdams) he unknowingly searches for a Hollywood almost forgotten. Gil finds himself detached from the LA allure, and longs for life to be littered with inspirational cultural legends. Cue an array of literary celebs, each of which he happens upon during midnight strolls through Paris, where he delves into a romantic version of 1920s Hollywood, and falls instantly in love with it.

It’s difficult to portray famous figures from the past, especially ones from the golden age of Hollywood, but as Gil notes they don’t have to be perfect, just as we want them to be. Like memories, the parts we’d rather forget are blurred away. He encounters F. Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and a brilliant version of Salvador Dalí (Adrien Brody), who manages to capture a glimmer of the illustrious man’s imagination during such a small scene. Allen is so very good at writing love letters to cities, but what lets his Parisian affair fall flat is McAdams, her Inez is so obviously unsuited to Wilson’s Gil it’s quite distracting and two dimensional (though very much the point) this restricts a lot of McAdams’ own charm as an actor. As with many of Allen’s masterpieces, if you’re not the lead, you’re nothing. Still, there’s more here to keep the heart fluttering, and we’re reminded by Gil what it’s like to fall in love.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Black Bananas: Rad Times Xpress IV Record Review (2012)

Originally published in Nylon Magazine.

Strutting through the remains of Royal Trux, the multifaceted Jennifer Herrema’s new psychedelic infusion goes by the name of Black Bananas, but they’re hardly rotten. Rad Times Xpress IV pushes beyond what RTX achieved, namely by being more rad. Album opener It’s Cool draws on hot 70s infused riffs that would leave many a Jimi fan in a head spin. Rad Times however is definitely the record’s main beast: gritty disco beats, slick vocals and relentless guitars that makes you want to party. Crossover genres abound, (My House screams 80s hair mental, in a good cliché free way) the only downside is there isn’t enough of each styled track to go around. If there was ever a moment to get into the Herrema gang, now’s the time.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Haywire (2011) Review

Haywire, the latest action flic from director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic) sets an all star cast into disarray as the (wo)man hunt is on to track down a two-fold plot: decipher a double crossing, and a rogue black ops soldier gone, well, haywire, with her only hope of survival to kill her way out of the situation. There are obvious comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s revenge fuelled Kill Bill, however to compare the two would be a mistake. Kill Bill is a well rounded romp on how to execute a successful and entertaining revenge plot, full of pop culture anecdotes and more cross genre action then you can shake a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword at. Haywire is not.

The movie comes a cropper from the get go as it tries too hard to be a better film than it actually is. Relative newcomer Gina Carano plays Mallory, the ousted soldier on a mission to find out who has set her up. Why isn’t really essential. As a black ops gone off the rails, she does well to play an emotionless, dull and characterless lead, though this does make it difficult to invest any interest in her or her cornrows. She’s pitted against the likes of Ewan McGregor, (who shouldn’t be knocked for trying to range his accents, but maybe should stick to the original) Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, and er, Channing Tatum, who is not bad at all, and proves he can cut it on the action stakes. With this range of actors, it’s a shame that Haywire really doesn’t deliver the chops that were expected.

The choreographed fight scenes look over thought and contrived, edited together in such a staged manner its surprising ‘ACTION’ and ‘CUT’ are not audible. Haywire bashing aside, the main drawback to this shambles is with such a wealth of talented actors and crew, it’s shocking to see the movie fall flat on so many levels. Once the credits were rolling, Soderbergh did bring to light how it should be done, and out came the Tarantino collection. For that, it was not a total waste.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) Review

Striding leaps and bounds right into their next adventure, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law frolic away like a couple of school boys in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock: A Game of Shadows, which likes to play dodge ball from the get go. If A Game of Shadows were a sibling to the first instalment, it would be the jovial, misbehaving sibling that really didn’t give a damn about impressing the parents, and wound up being the most successful out of the nest. Learning from the prodigal child, A Game of Shadows is far less clunky, the CGI more superior and less offensively obvious, whilst accepting of the type of film it should be: pure entertainment.

That’s not to say there’s no darkness to this shadowy affair, far from it, which arrives in the form of Sherlock’s only true nemesis: Moriarty played by the bearded Jared Harris. He’s the ultimate villain to Sherlock’s sanity, matching intelligence, screen presence, and their banter harks back to a fictional time when enemies were gentlemen, who knew when and where to battle, and when to politely refrain from violence through insulting wit, executed brilliantly by writers Michele and Kieran Mulroney.

Accompanying our heroes on their latest case is Sim, the freewheeling gypsy played by an underwhelming Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) who’s enrolled to help the duo foil a terrorist plot across Europe. You can’t really blame Rapace’s lack of screen presence when pitted against the now very strong bromance between Downey and Law, which has been caricatured to great effect here, but we’re not really that bothered as her character is quite incidental. Stephen Fry makes a solid appearance as Holmes’ brother Mycroft, although the film could have benefited with a little less of Fry’s...wit

This is all forgivable as the film does what we’ve come to love from a well oiled Sherlock machine with Ritchie at the helm: there’s more of Sherlock’s inner monologue when fighting with his fisty cuffs, more banter between the two leads, more chase scenes, and more of what we like in the midst of Winter-a good old yarn of a Blockbuster.