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