Alan Dee’s guide to the new movie releases

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IT may seen a little ungallant to mention it, but mockney movie magnate Guy Ritchie’s film career seems to have been steered back on track since he and Madonna parted company.

When Guy made a big splash with his debut gangster drama Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels back in 1998 marriage to the material girl was still in the future.

But once they got together it was hard to convince the little woman, whose film career has been distinguished by turkeys big enough to grace any Christmas table in the weeks ahead, to leave well alone.

So it was that Guy helmed Swept Away, a stinker of the first order which could have sunk him.

Follow-up projects Revolver and RocknRolla worked the same territory as Lock Stock without the same streetwise sass, and there were many who dismissed him as a one-note operator condemned to retread past ground in the hunt for another hit.

So when he turned up as director of a new take on Sherlock Holmes, the purists sneered.

When he named bad boy Robert Downey Jr as the man to play the Baker Street legend and Jude Law as his faithful companion Watson, the critics jeered – until they saw the movie, an impressive period piece with a modern twist, and cleaned up at the box office thanks to a sharp script, a sumptuous Victorian feel, and the ‘against the grain’ casting that breathed new life into the pipe and deerstalker image of Conan-Doyle’s greatest creation.

And with that sort of success, it was only a matter of time before Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows arrived on our screens – just in time for the Christmas family market, and with a handy 12A certificate to boot.

The two leads are back centre stage, of course, and this time round we meet both the evil Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) and Sherlock’s smarter brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) as well as lots of other recognisable Brit stars.

The story gets to spread itself a bit, too, moving out of the dark and forbidding London that characterised the first film and going global as Holmes and Watson get to work saving western civilisation.

It’s another helping of the same, and none the worse for that because the original was great fun. A third trip to the well might be asking for trouble, but the sequel delivers in all the right places.

> If you don’t fancy Sherlock, your choices are pretty limited. The only other mainstream movie scheduled for release is Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the third instalment in the inexplicably successful animation franchise sparked by an irritating TV hit of long ago.

You may find singing chipmunks charming, and obviously so do many others, but I can’t understand why long-suffering human sidekick Dave – former skateboard champ Jason Lee, an ever-present in the annals of Alvin – doesn’t just lay down a bit of poison for the troublesome critters and get a life.