Carl the Critic: reviews "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" [Caution: Contains Plot Spoilers]

Experience/Expectations

Boy oh boy, another Sherlock Holmes movie, directed by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and this one has Moriarty in it! Hurray! My opinion on the first Sherlock Holmes was simple, there was lots of action, and a weak story, but because it was directed by Guy Ritchie, had the music of Hans Zimmer, starred Jude Law, and was enjoyable I actually found it to be fun. Robert Downey Jr. does a good job playing Sherlock Holmes, but he isn’t the best, (Basil Rathbone is), however we are not here to discuss the first Sherlock Holmes or to compare old versus new (at least not yet) or to talk about how awesome Basil Rathbone is (that’s Cogerson’s job), we are here to talk about the second installment of the movie franchise “Sherlock Holmes: A Game in Shadows”.

I saw the title of this movie and went “'A Game in Shadows'? Is this going to be like ‘Blaire Witch 2: Book of Shadows’ where there was no book let alone a book of shadows? Will this movie actually have a game? And will it be played in the shadows? And can I be any more of a smart ass?"

Well, it’s Christmas Break, I’m home for the holidays, I decided to watch this movie, and judge for myself if it was good or not.

Story

Unlike the first film, which arguably had little to no real story, this one actually does. Sherlock is trying to stop Professor James Moriarty from creating chaos in Europe, and prevent bombs from exploding all over Europe, from London, to France, to Germany to Switzerland. Meanwhile, Watson is getting married to the woman he was engaged to in the first movie and Sherlock keeps telling Watson that marriage is awful, while also trying to a help find a missing Gypsy who was kidnapped and is being forced to do Moriarty’s bidding. Colonel Sebastian Moran is using his new weapons to kill off people left and right, and it’s up to Holmes, Watson, and some Gypsy woman (whose name I can't remember) to stop him.

And so as you can see this is the story that I was able to gather. Though give the film credit it’s a better story than the last film.

Critique

As a matter of opinion, everything about this movie is much better than the first (not to say that the first film was bad or anything, but that I think this film is better). I might not be too keen on Sherlock Holmes as a comedic character, the way Robert Downey Jr. portrays him, but he is very funny (and psychotic at times, like when he is drinking embalming fluid).

A problem I had with the first film was Sherlock’s slow motion monologue moments, I felt they were unnecessary but this film fixes this issue three ways. The first slow motion fight scene had no monologue whatsoever $6, which was perfect, because we can see what Sherlock Holmes is going to do before he doesn’t without him explaining every little thing. The second slow motion fight scene had a monologue (and at first I was like, oh no why are you doing this?) but then when Sherlock Holmes is fighting the guy, it doesn’t happen the exact way as he had planned in his mind, while fighting him, a Gypsy woman (Oh wait, I just remembered, her name is Simza Heron) throws a knife at the guy Holmes is fighting, which I thought was pretty clever how the film deceives the audience like that. The final slow motion fight scene is against Holmes and Moriarty, and at first it was the same monologue as before, Holmes had planned everything out in his mind, but then suddenly we hear Moriarty’s voice saying “you think you’re the only one who can do this?” and it showed what Moriarty was thinking and then back to Holmes, and in the end Holmes realizes that there was only one alternative (I give more in my SPOILERS down below). I was so happy about the film actually using one of the weakest points of the first film to its advantage.

Just like in “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” this movie uses chess as a metaphor, but while the chess game in “Breaking Dawn Part 1” was a metaphor to see if Bella will or will not get sex tonight, the chess game in “A Game in Shadows” was a metaphor for the battle of wits between Sherlock Holmes and James Moriarty, which is very clever. The film itself feels like a chess game as both Sherlock and Moriarty battle back and forth, plan out a strategy to foil the other, and had to make sacrifices in their attempts to achieve their goal.

The visual effects were stunning (even though one might laugh at the sight of a gigantic bullet the size of a smart car flying at Sherlock Holmes and missing him because his arm was positioned at the right place at the right time), the editing is well paced, sound design added the moments of suspense (such as a ticking timer to a bomb when Holmes is looking for the bomb), of course the music of Hans Zimmer is fantastic (and it too added to the suspense of the scene), all the actors were great, the movie was closer to the actual stories by Sir Arthur Cohn Doyle than the first film, and the ending was no disappointment (without spoiling it here, it is very similar to the ending of one of the books).

My only fear is that the next Sherlock Holmes movie may not be as good as the previous two, (as I explained in my “Puss In Boots” review) but we’ll have to wait and see. The biggest problem that the film has is that there is so much action going on that it is hard to concentrate on the story, just like the first film. At times the movie does feel slowly paced, and Sherlock is just over the top with his insanity (by drinking things you’re not supposed to, or eating things that you’re not suppose to) but I guess you’ll have to judge for yourself. A film like “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is definitely a Hit-or-Miss movie, and I’m sure that the people who are going into this know exactly what they are getting.

Overall

So go check this out, I enjoyed it you might as well; it’s a fun movie full of laughs, and suspense. I gave it an 8.5 out of 10.

Spoilers

So maybe you don’t like surprises, maybe you don’t want to see Sherlock Holmes, maybe you’ve already seen the movie but feel like you’ve missed something, but here is the ending of “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”.

After Watson and Simza stop the assassination (that Simza's brother was going to carry out) Holmes and Moriarty are playing chess outside on a balcony (or at least they were playing chess, but then they just shout out movements) and Holmes unsurprisingly wins. Holmes then strategizes how he is going to kill Moriarty, or at least protect himself from Moriarty as we see a slow motion fight scene, but then Moriarty’s voice is heard as he also explains what he plains to do to kill Holmes (although it’s Moriarty’s voice, I believe that this is what Sherlock is thinking in his own mind, unless Holmes and Moriarty are secretly telepathic twins who can read each others mind). At any rate Holmes realizes that he is no match for Moriarty and so he decides to fall off the balcony that is off the edge of a rocky cliff and fall to his “death”. Conveniently, Watson arrives just in time to witness Holmes and Moriarty fall to their deaths.

After a funeral for Holmes we see that Watson spends most of his time writing the adventure he had with Sherlock Holmes (this is also how the movie started). As Watson finishes his book (with the words “The End”) he receives a package, and in it contains evidence that suggest that Sherlock Holmes is alive. He goes to find the postman figuring that Holmes disguised himself as a postman just as a red chair begins to move. “Surprisingly” enough, it turns out it’s Sherlock Holmes, who takes this opportunity to read the last page of Watson’s book that he left in the typewriter, and adds a question mark so the last words of the novel read “The End?”

Now I know that some of you are thinking, “How did he survive that fall?” Well that’s for the third movie to explain, and it will no doubt explain how Moriarty survived the fall as well because this happened in a Sherlock Holmes novel as well. Personally, I feel like it’s a great way to end the movie, not because it ensures more squeals, but because as one who has read a few “Sherlock Holmes” stories as a kid, I can appreciate the fact that they made the ending close to the novels.

What about you?

If you've seen "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows", what did you think?

  • worst movie ever
  • It was bad, but...
  • So-so
  • It was good, but...
  • GREATEST MOVIE EVER!!!
See results without voting

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Comments 35 comments

THEHuG5 profile image

THEHuG5 4 years ago

Excellent review Carl! I liked the movie too especially the slow motion fight scenes. I though the whole thing was pretty badass overall. It could have been shorter though I found it hard to concentrate for that long but...whatever maybe it's just me and my short attention span :) Anyway voting up!


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Well you are right, it was a little long (about two and a half hours long) but I guess that didn't bother me as much. Thanks for bringing it up though, because I'm sure others would feel the same. Thanks for the comment and vote Alexis, always good to hear from you :)


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Guy Ritchie is a movie director? I thought he was a music mogul. That's Madonna's ex, right? I haven't seen the movie so I skipped over the spoiler alert section. Awesome review, as always:)


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Yes Guy Ritchie is Madonna's Ex, and other movies he made out side of the Sherlock Holmes franchise include "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels", "Snatch", and "RocknRolla". I highly recommend watching "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "RocknRolla" (I still need to see "Snatch"). Thanks for the comment Linda, always good to hear from you :)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Hi Carl; I haven't seen this one yet, because I'm hearing very mixed reviews on it. I'l still not sure if I'll see it or not.

I don't know how the scene where Holmes falls plays out in the film but in the Arthur Conan Doyle short story "the final problem", it looks like Holmes and Moriarty have both fallen to their death off a waterfall, but in the next story, "the Empty House", they explain that Holmes never really fell but Moriarty did and died. I don't know what Guy Ritchie has in mind.

Well done review,

Rob


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Hey Rob,

Hmm... Did Moriarty die? I thought he came back in one of the later stories... It really has been a while, I remember in the movies Moriarty was always "killed off" and then some how miraculously survived and came back in another film. I really need to read the books again, but I have a feeling that Moriarty in this movie will not be dead for very long. You are of course right, (and in the film Holmes and Moriarty fall off a cliff near a waterfall) but we'll have to wait and see what Ritchie has in mind for the squeals. I thought this movie was really worth the $7.50, but definitely don't just take my word for it :)

Thanks for the comment and insight, it's always good to hear from you.

Carl


Melissa McClain profile image

Melissa McClain 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

I agree that the second movie was even better than the first (and I really liked the first one). I also like that they incorporated just enough information from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories to truly be considered "based off the stories of..." but not so much that they sacrificed theatrical elements. Bravo. Voted up!


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

Carl; Moriarty did come back in a later story, in the novel "the Valley of Fear", but that story took place before "the Final Problem" where Moriarty died. The Holmes stories weren't written in chronological order. Arthur Conan Doyle liked to jump around in time.

As you say, in the movies, he died about six times and kept coming back regardless.

Rob


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Thanks you Melissa, glad you agree :)

@Rob: Yeah I have to really start reading those again, Thanks again for the comment and insight :)


Hector 4 years ago

What is up with the bullet with the dart when they were playing chest


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

The Darts were Moran's weapon of choice to kill off his victims quickly. He used it earlier in the film not just during the chess game.


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I haven't seen the movie - because I wasn't sure if it was going to be very good (and it is a longer movie) but I think I'll see it after reading this. I did skip the spoiler thanks for the warning:) voted up for sure!


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

lol Thanks Kelly, it's really worth the price of the ticket. And I definitely agree that it's better to go into this movie not knowing the spoilers. Thanks for the comment and votes, it's always good to hear from you :)


tschaunerb profile image

tschaunerb 4 years ago from Medicine Hat

good review, i found this movie to be okay. it kept my attention but was nothing special. I'd recommend it tho to kill an evening over the holidays- that or wait for the dvd.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Okay, well thanks for your input tschaunerb, it's greatly appreciated especially since many may feel the same way. Thanks again :)


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

As always, you've written a great review on this movie. Although, I can't say I agree with everything you said in this, as you already know, but I can certainly see where you're coming from. By the way, in your opinion, which film was probably the best adaptation of Sherlock that you've seen? I only ask because your the only person that I know of that read the books, so i was just curious. Anyway, great job as always. :)


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Best adaptation? Hmm... Boy that's a tough one (a lot of Sherlock Holmes movies that I like were original screen plays with just the Sherlock Holmes characters, and may have a few references to the novels), but that's a great question, I'd say "Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon" which incorporates "The Dancing Men" and "The Engineer's Thumb". But great question I hope this answers it, and thanks again for your comment and support :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Thanks for the great review, Carl...what I read of it. I had to skip over the spoiler section. I saw the first movie, but I haven't seen this one yet. I'm looking forward to seeing it.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Thanks for topping by and commenting Daisy, I hope you enjoy the film as much as I did. Always great to hear from you.


Jason 4 years ago

your a moron.... he survived because he used mycroft's oxygen supply which he stole.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Ah yes, because that's all you need to survive a 100 foot fall isn't it? Just an oxygen supply the size of a container of lipstick? Although it may have helped, it wasn't the reason as to how he could have survived, because you need more than oxygen to survive a 100 foot fall. So, it would appear that I'm not the moron here, and if I did get something wrong don't be an asshole about it. Thank you very much.


jamescar 4 years ago

you are totally wrong about the first film


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

...Okay well thanks for sharing your opinion, I'm sure many others feel the same way.


Stevennix2001 profile image

Stevennix2001 4 years ago

Hey carl you should definitely put together a top ten sherlock holmes films list, since you claim to be such a fan of the book series. I'd be interested to see what films would make your top ten.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

lol I'll see what I can do, I've got a lot of requests at the moment but I'll definitely consider creating a top ten Sherlock Holmes films list :) Thanks for the suggestion!


vazelos profile image

vazelos 4 years ago from Volos, Greece

A nice review!!! I agree with what you said. I liked the second movie better but i prefer the written stories of Sherlock Holmes. The movie Sherlock Holmes reminds me of an action hero!


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Hey vazelos, I'm glad you liked the review, and thank you for your insightful comment :)


Joe 4 years ago

Good review. Just one thing. The gypsy womans name was Simza Heron and hers brother's Rene.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Oh thank you very much I'll fix that at once.


Serge Chabert 4 years ago

I doubt that they will have Moriarty survive in the third movie as in the book he does not, only Holmes survives. However there is the possibility that Holmes opponent will be colonel Moran as he is, after all, number 2 in the Moriarty organisation. Anyway the rumour that the third film might be set up in Hollywood does not bear good. I really hope or is just a rumour.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

Moriarty does come back in a later story. He does die in a later story as well, but there are other stories where he comes back though many times film directors go for the James Bond theory that Moriarty isn't a real person, he's just a code name, which is an excuse some filmmakers used to explain why in one film he is played by one guy, dies at the end, and yet comes back in a different movie played by a different actor (that or plastic surgery).

We'll just have to wait and see, I just theorized that based on the books I read where it seems that Moriarty "dies" but yet comes back in a later story (though in the books I think this was only once where he may or may not be dead and then he dies in a later story) and the older films exploited this idea of "uh- he just fell off a 50 story building, I wonder if he's really dead..." I just thought maybe Hollywood and its love for franchises would bring him back possibly. But I could be wrong. Thanks for the comment.


KatieG 4 years ago

Have you ever watched the BBC adaptation? It's simply called "Sherlock", I would be interested to see what you might think. Love the review though, you brought up some good points.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago Author

I have seen "Sherlock", Steven Moffat is a genus. I love the idea of modernizing the Sherlock Holmes stories, incorporating texting and emails, etc, and Benedict Cumberbatch is amazing despite not being a huge fan of the comedic over the top Sherlock that he portrays, he does it so well that I just love him as Sherlock Holmes. I have been working on my review for the show, but I have been so busy and I just have it in a file along with other reviews I didn't get a chance to do.

But I really do like the show, I guess I'll work on my review of it when I can, finish it up and get that done as soon as possible. Thanks for the comment, and suggestion :)


Kartikeya Chauhan profile image

Kartikeya Chauhan 19 months ago

Seriously, Moriarty really dies in 'The Final Problem'. He appears in 'The Valley of Fear' later but it is really set before the former. A common misconception. A good review by the way.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 19 months ago Author

Thank you for your comment Kartikeya Chauhan, and thanks for the correction, it really means a lot! :)

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