Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes "A Game of Shadows" (2011)
For a lighthearted, adventure movie with lots of special effects, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows delivers.
Now, I didn't see the very first modern Sherlock Holmes movie so I was surprised to see that Sherlock Holmes was no longer the witty, cerebral detective of many disguises from the Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Rather he has morphed more into a James Bond sort of character, full of action, a little more urbane, but loves all sorts of disguises and notices the little details from which he deductively reasons the answers. The Dr. Watson character is no longer the slow-on-the-uptake sidekick but rather a partner and not so bad with the action moves himself. The biggest change that I noticed was London. It was no longer the foggy, sooty, grimy version of London that shrouded the original stories with plenty of atmosphere and menace. Rather, London looks clean and modern. After noticing these changes I just gave up on the movie following the original version of Sherlock Holmes altogether and enjoyed the movie for what it is, an updated movie adaptation of the story.
Europe is at the turn of the century and there have been bombings at various city centers. Is it the work of anarchists, nationalists or socialists -- the authorities can't figure out whose behind it. Dark forces seem to be at work to force a confrontation between countries and start a war. Holmes, however, is more upset that Dr. Watson is getting married and that they will no longer be working together whereas Dr. Watson can't wait to get on with married life. However, their separation is short-lived. Holmes has found out that his nemesis, Professor Moriarty is involved in the assassination of various public figures and he aims to thwart him. A gypsy woman is mysteriously involved in the killings and narrowly escapes her death with the help of Holmes. For the dastardly Professor Moriarty, the assassinations serve a purpose and he will not allow either Holmes or Watson to stop him. Dr. Watson's honeymoon at Brighton with his new wife, Mary, is interrupted when Moriarty threatens to kill the pair to get even with Holmes. Holmes saves the couple. Together again, Holmes and Watson embark for Paris, on a chase to stop Moriarty on a bigger assassination attempt. The gypsy woman helps them because they promised to find her brother and discover his involvement with Moriarty. The adventure culminates in Switzerland where a peace conference has been arranged involving the ambassadors and leaders of the European countries, a target-rich environment. There, Holmes and Moriarty have a final confrontation and meet an unexpected end.
I found the plot to be rather preposterous but this is an action film after all so I can't expect anything realistic. Robert Downey Jr. plays Holmes as an eccentric James Bond who aims to hide in the background by using various disguises. I'm very glad that Downey has been able to put his drug use behind him because I wouldn't have had the pleasure of seeing his performance in this movie. Jude Law plays the much put upon Dr. Watson and has made the character an appealing, attractive man of action that serves as a perfect foil for Holmes. There really is not much character development, you take them as you find them. Dr. Moriarty, played by Jared Harris actually reminds me of a dentist, he was boring and not at all sinister. There are a ton of special effects, in fact director Guy Ritchie, seemed to have spent more time putting the action scenes in slow motion with things getting blown up while rushing through Europe's landmarks. It's unfortunate because the cinematography is superb. There were times that I thought the movie was slow and I would be restless but they didn't last too long. Watching the movie is a fun 2 hours, but it needs better editing and more story development.
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