Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, Arthur Conan Doyle
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry, Paul Anderson, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, Eddie Marsan, William Houston, Wolf Kahler
Synopsis: Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and his longtime trusted associate, Doctor Watson (Jude Law), take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), with the help of Holmes's older brother Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) and a gypsy named Sim (Noomi Rapace).
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material
It's Simply Elementary..my dear readers
After careful deduction of this movie, I've come to the conclusion that this film pales in comparison to the original film in terms of story telling, but it's still entertaining nonetheless. How I've come to such a startling conclusion is simply elementary my dear readers. Although the film still has plenty of the same high octane action scenes, and humor, that made the first film such a success with audiences, the sad fact about this movie is that it leaves much to be desired in terms of it's plot; which is a shame considering that one would think that a Sherlock Holmes film featuring his greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), would be a lot more interesting. However, like most sequels, the promise doesn't often match up with the results.
As many fans of the first one know, the last movie left on a cliffhanger to imply that Holmes' arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty, was not only the devious mastermind manipulating the situation behind the scenes, in the first film, but he would also play a significant role against Sherlock Holmes in the sequel. Indeed, one would think based on the concept that Moriarty was the devious one that manipulated the events of the first film, and happens to be infamously known to be Sherlock's greatest adversary, then one would expect an epic film like no other...but it never happens.
Don't get me wrong, the film is still very entertaining for what it tries to be, but the character build up between Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) isn't that strong. And, to make matters worse, Jared Harris comes off as a rather weak antagonist at best. Granted, the story is still equally as engaging as the first film, while leaving just enough clues and subtleties to keep the audience guessing until the very end. Unfortunately, the rivalry build up between the protagonist and antagonist isn't that strong, and Jared Harris lacks the intimidating demeanor that Mark Strong brought to the table in the first movie.
To get back to the story, Sherlock is locked into a case that involves hunting down the infamous Professor Moriarty, while dealing with Dr. Watson's impending wedding as his best man. However, things seem to go astray rather quickly, as Moriarty not only sends out his men to gun down Sherlock and all his friends for intervening with his plans, but he even has a scheme that could potentially wreak havoc on the world if he's not stopped by any means necessary. Will Holmes be able to deduce enough clues to stop Moriarty and his nefarious scheme? Or will Moriarty get the last laugh? Only time will tell, as this movie is indeed a deadly game of chess; where one wrong move can get you in check. Or better yet, you'll just have to see the movie to find out.
As I mentioned earlier, the action and humor that made the first one so much fun to watch is still there. In fact, Guy Ritchie amps up both in this sequel. Not only are there more explosions, and action sequences than what we saw in the first film, but Guy even tends to use quite a bit of slow motion to amp up the action as well. One particular scene for instance, we see Sherlock and Watson running through the woods, as Moriarty's cronies hunt them down; while using the patented bullet time slow motion that seems to be infamously popular these days (Thanks to the "Matrix" trilogy).
As for the humor, let's just say that if you thought Robert Downey Jr. came off as goofy and entertaining in some of his disguises in the last film, while enjoying the love/hate relationship of Holmes and Watson, then you'll definitely see more of that too. Unfortunately, as a wise man once said, sometimes too much of a good thing isn't always for the best. Although I too like many fans enjoyed the humor and action that the last film brought to the table, the sad reality is that this is also part of the problem for this sequel.
Unlike the last film where there was a strong character build up between Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Strong's characters, the build in this movie seems to take a backseat quite a bit to action and humor sequences. Sure, some fans have argued that the first movie suffered from this as well, but I beg to differ. At least in the first movie, Guy still allowed for their be moments where we could identify with the struggles of the characters internally, where we could see relationships grow and develop. Heck, there was even a brief moment, in the first movie, that showed how even Sherlock Holmes started to doubt himself, after he was temporarily labeled a fugitive of the law. However, it was because of those moments were so subtle, and downplayed, that it never interfered with the up tempo action comedy pace that the first movie established. Unfortunately, the sequel doesn't offer any of those kind of moments.
No, what we're treated to here is plenty of missed opportunities to explore some of the character's internal struggles, while providing a deeply engaging emotional story full of action and comedy. Sadly, those type of moments to explore the characters' relationships and internal struggles are practically nonexistent in this movie. In fact, Holmes doesn't seem to lose any sleep upon hearing that his love interest, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), is killed by Professor Moriarty's cronies. Sure, there was the one brief moment that you could subtly see the sad expression on Downey's face, upon hearing about it for the first time, to show the sadness of his character. However, even that moment was short lived, and it's never mentioned again throughout the rest of movie.
However, I can't blame any of the actors for the shortcomings of Guy Ritchie's movie, as it cuts out a lot character development in favor of action comedy sequences, but it's rather sad to say the least. But then again, this is also why it's a good thing that the film features such great actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law; who both have a great chemistry together on screen. In spite of the limitations that the script has for their characters, both of them seem to rise to the occasion to carry this movie. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about Jared Harris. Granted, one can tell he tries his best to live up to portraying such an iconic villain like Moriarty, and the scheme his character tries to pull is certainly devious enough, but to be honest, you never actually felt like he much of a threat to Holmes at all in this movie. If anything, the film has to constantly remind audiences that Moriarty is a force to be reckoned with, but it shouldn't be that way. No, Moriarty was known throughout literature as the only adversary who could match Holmes intellectually, yet in this film, it seems like Holmes is always one step ahead of him.
Don't get me wrong, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" is still a very entertaining film, and it'll certainly keep it's audience guessing throughout it's course; while featuring more of the epic action scenes and comedy that audiences loved about the first one. However, it could have been so much more...
In the end, I'd have to give this movie a two and a half out of four. It's not a bad movie by any means, and if you liked the first movie, then you'll still like this one as well. However, like most sequels, it just doesn't live up to the first movie; hence why I would advise all my readers to wait for the DVD/Blue Ray release, as this film isn't worth seeing in theaters.