Today let’s talk about sleuths and pirates. Well, actually we’ll discuss sleuths and internet piracy. See why pirates sounds better?
I saw Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows yesterday. A fun movie. Not a great movie, but tons going on and plenty of talented actors racing around nineteenth-century London and Paris looking for parties, gypsies, anarchists, and trouble. Let’s just go with delightfully diverting. Nor should it come as any surprise that once again, Robert Downey, Jr. has elevated a good caper to something much more — simply because he’s so darn likable. Who knows why – maybe it’s all those personal demons the guy battled for so long. Maybe it’s a lightness emanating from gratitude because he’s still on his feet and getting hired after what he’s been through. Perhaps it’s because he did time and now presents at the Oscars. Whatever it is, it’s working because the guy is totally mesmerizing to watch in almost anything. I’m not much of a comics fan, and yet I traipsed off to see Iron Man 2 because he singlehandedly took that franchise from Just Another Guy in Tights/Robotic Getup, and created a funny and ironic superhero.
In Sherlock Holmes, Downey takes the world’s most famous English detective and turns him into a sinewy powerhouse of stealth and determination. Who chatters on at lightening speed while insulting, inquiring, investigating, and ultimately inspiring everyone around him. Jude Law is Watson, his trusty – and reluctant – sidekick, who must endure Holmes’ preening narcissism before helping him bring very, very evil men to justice. When this movie takes place – the late nineteenth century, all hell really was about to break loose politically. There were lots of bad factions with all manner of nefarious motives and no internet – not even answering machines – in sight, so news didn’t exactly travel fast (a few World Wars would happen before Al Gore invented the ultimate communication tool). Which means the screenplay could be (and is) rife with anarchists and soldiers and disgruntled laborers and anyone else with a reason to shoot people. Consequently the movie’s plot is pretty complicated – but not Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy-complicated (where it actually matters). This is one of those movies where you’re more than content to watch bullets sail through the air and stop before entering someone’s body, where Holmes has such mental acuity that he can predict the presence of thugs and snipers, and where everyone is vaguely suspicious. And always grimy. Most suspicious of course is Jared Harris (Mad Men) who plays the film’s brilliant and professorial villain. Is it credible? Absolutely not. Does it make sense? Probably to viewers smarter and more astute than me. Did I forget where I was for at least two hours and find myself enmeshed in a chaotic but cool world of crime, intrigue, double crosses and major razor stubble? You bet I did. Guy Ritchie made a lark of a film, and Robert Downey, Jr. makes Sherlock Holmes: Game of Five O’Clock Shadows a welcome holiday diversion.
Now to piracy. You know, when movie studios complain via frightening commercials that illegal downloading is taking food out of the mouths of key grips and boom operators worldwide. Apparently stealing movies is indeed a very nasty multimillion-dollar business. We know it’s rampant, but did we now just how rampant? According to reports, Avatar was last year’s most illegally downloaded movie. 16.6 million people thought it would be fun to watch for free. I’m not entirely sure how people actually pirate the films, but the most popular ones tend to be favorites among young males (Fast Five, The Hangover 2, Thor, Source Code, Sucker Punch, etc). With one startling exception: The King’s Speech was also in the top ten among internet pirates. Although that may be because of the Oscars. With this in mind, please let us know your thoughts on the most downloaded movies.
1) Fast Five
2) The Hangover Pt II
4) Source Code