It’s a full slate of holiday 2011 offerings coming to local second-run theaters: scary stuff, funny stuff, exciting stuff, stuff for kids and stuff for grown-ups.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows brings Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law back to the roles of Holmes and Watson in what is still fundamentally an action bromance. But this installment is considerably less frantic than the 2009 original, and benefits greatly from pitting Holmes against his arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).
Two very different 3-D family films also debut: Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, and Arthur Christmas. The latter is a spirited adaptation of the cult-favorite comic-book series, but the hero at the center proves to be a hollow, cardboard cutout; there’s considerably more charm in Arthur’s tale of Santa’s enthusiastic younger son teaching us all a lesson in the meaning of Christmas.
It wasn’t surprising to find audiences struggling to connect with Young Adult, starring Charlize Theron as a miserable writer and one-time high school queen bee who thinks she’ll find happiness by re-connecting with her high school boyfriend. But Theron is terrific in a sympathetically unlikable role, while Patton Oswalt offers exceptional support as damaged nerd who becomes her confidant.
And then there’s The Darkest Hour, the alien-invasion thriller that vanished almost as quickly as the humans do when touched by the electrified extraterrestrials.