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Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
3 years agoby:
100%
7 10

PLOT: The game is afoot for Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and his sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law) when they run up against the evil genius Moriarty (Jared Harris)- who threatens to plunge Europe into war with his nefarious scheme.

REVIEW: Confession time. Two years ago, when the first SHERLOCK HOLMES hit theatres, I totally got caught up with the hype, and gave the film a rave review upon its release- even going so far as to put it on my top 10 of the year. It IS a good film, but it's just that, GOOD, and not quite the extravaganza I might have led readers to believe. Still, I did quite enjoy it, mostly for Robert Downey Jr's energetic re-imagining of the titular hero, and I've been looking forward to the sequel.


I'm happy to say that for the most part, SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS is just about as good as the first film. Everything that made the last one so entertaining is still here- namely Downey Jr., energetic performance- which manages to be both comedic and heroic. Like the last film, Downey Jr., has gotten himself into great shape, and the fights that made the first SHERLOCK such a treat are still here. Within seconds of it starting, we're plunged into a battle between Holmes and a bunch of heavily armed adversaries, and Ritchie, using the trademark Holmes powers of deduction make these battles a lot of fun to watch.

Equally good is Jude Law, for whom the last SHERLOCK was the key to a major comeback after a few lean years. Now that Law's gotten a bit older and is a wee bit less pretty (it's no coincidence most of the really good films he's done, namely ROAD TO PERDITION and COLD MOUNTAIN downplayed his looks), he's gained a little heft as an action hero. Most important, his “bromantic” chemistry with Downey is spot-on, and the two make a fun pair of action heroes. Also making a welcome return is Hans Zimmer, who once again contributes a memorably heroic score which, this time around, features a few cool nods to John Barry's Bond scores (similar to his score to INCEPTION), and even incorporates the Ennio Morricone theme for the Clint Eastwood western, TWO MULES FOR SISTER SARA.


A GAME OF SHADOWS' strongest addition to the franchise is the phenomenal casting of Jared Harris (son of the late Richard) as Holmes' arch-nemesis Moriarty. Harris is fantastic, and makes a damn near iconic Moriarty, the one villain who's perhaps even more brilliant than Holmes. His verbal parrying with Downey is excellent, and takes care of my one chief complaint about the first film: the lack of a strong villain.

Another wonderful addition to the franchise is Stephen Fry as Holmes' wayward older brother Mycroft, who- in a bit of business I can't recall from the Arthur Conan Doyle books, has a fondness for holding court while nude. Fry fits right into the madcap, but never zany, Holmes-world that director Guy Ritchie has created, and given the audience's laughter every time he was on-screen, I assume he's a shoo-in for a sequel if one happens (depending on the box-office of course).


As great as the additions of Harris and Fry are, the same cannot be said of Noomi Rapace. Her performance here is utterly lifeless, as the extraneous gypsy con-woman, who's drawn into Holmes and Watson's adventure. I suppose she was added to give the film some sex appeal, but she really phones it in- which is a real shock to me, as she was brilliant as Salander in the Swedish versions of the Stieg Larsson THE GIRL... series. Compare her to Rachel McAdams, who recreates her role as Irene Adler from the first film and you can see a major difference, as McAdams brings the type of energy to the proceedings a big-budget extravaganza like this needs. You can't play something like this dead-serious, as Rapace does, as it clashes (badly) with the rest of the cast, all of whom seem to be having fun (I actually would have preferred more screen-time for Kelly Reilly as Watson's wife, who seems more game for this kind of ride).

In addition to Rapace, the film has a few other problems. At 130 minutes, the film feels a shade long, and drags a little more than the first film. If anything, maybe it's loaded with TOO MUCH action as the pyrotechnics got a little numbing after awhile- especially the overuse of slow-mo in one of the big set pieces (although it does distinguish the scene somewhat). Still, I appreciate that this is the rare action film that features good old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat, explosions, and gunfights rather than loads of CGI (it's certainly used, but not as blatantly as in other blockbusters). There are a couple really nifty set pieces, including an extended action scene aboard a train, which features a cross-dressing Holmes intruding on Watson's honeymoon, and a good final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty taking place over a game of chess (at a Swiss mountainside hideaway that would have been at home in a Bond film).

While it's not quite as fresh as the first film felt (mainly due to it being Downey's first real action role other than IRON MAN), it's still a good romp, and well worth seeing over the holidays. While BBC's SHERLOCK is probably more in-line with what Conan Doyle would have envisioned for the character, Guy Ritchie and Downey Jr., have crafted a pretty nifty variation of their own. I'm certainly game for more.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:42AM on 12/16/2011
While I am looking forward to this film, as I enjoyed the first one quite a bit, I must say I am disappointed in the direction that this series has taken. I understand there needs to be a new Holmes for a new generation, but I really wish they'd toned down the action more in place of some good, old fashioned mystery. Holmes is always most entertaining when being a straight up detective, and while the using his deductive skills to overcome a fist-fight is entertaining, I would have preffered a
While I am looking forward to this film, as I enjoyed the first one quite a bit, I must say I am disappointed in the direction that this series has taken. I understand there needs to be a new Holmes for a new generation, but I really wish they'd toned down the action more in place of some good, old fashioned mystery. Holmes is always most entertaining when being a straight up detective, and while the using his deductive skills to overcome a fist-fight is entertaining, I would have preffered a Holmes more true to the original, while still weaving in Downey Jr.'s sense of humor and lunacy. But, I surmise this will be fun none the less. Unfortunately, I think seeing Mission Impossible tonight might taint the entertainment level of this film.
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2:04PM on 12/15/2011
The BBC's SHERLOCK is a pretty amazing series by the way...
The BBC's SHERLOCK is a pretty amazing series by the way...
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11:22AM on 12/15/2011
Perhaps the problem with Noomi Rapace was a language/cultural barrier? Not to say Swedes don't have a sense of humor, but that the comedic aspect of a balls to the wall action movie and the needs to speak almost entirely in english hampered her ability to let loose? Just a thought.
Perhaps the problem with Noomi Rapace was a language/cultural barrier? Not to say Swedes don't have a sense of humor, but that the comedic aspect of a balls to the wall action movie and the needs to speak almost entirely in english hampered her ability to let loose? Just a thought.
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9:17AM on 12/15/2011
cant wait to watch this tomorrow
cant wait to watch this tomorrow
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9:14AM on 12/15/2011
Great review, and unfortunate that you mentioned Noomie Rapace phoning the role in. I really love that girl. But hopefully I will have my own reaction when I see it tomorrow.
Great review, and unfortunate that you mentioned Noomie Rapace phoning the role in. I really love that girl. But hopefully I will have my own reaction when I see it tomorrow.
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8:05AM on 12/15/2011

Spelling

Firstly I am just curious as to why this post has so many grammatical errors? Not saying I'm any better, but I don't write for a cinema joulnalist website.

Secondly, I'm glad the film was reviewed highly, my family has been looking forward to seeing this on Christmas. I will however say that I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a better Holmes as well.
Firstly I am just curious as to why this post has so many grammatical errors? Not saying I'm any better, but I don't write for a cinema joulnalist website.

Secondly, I'm glad the film was reviewed highly, my family has been looking forward to seeing this on Christmas. I will however say that I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a better Holmes as well.
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9:19AM on 12/15/2011
Such as? You say it's full of errors- which ones?
Such as? You say it's full of errors- which ones?
11:04AM on 12/15/2011
This coming from someone who can't type journalist properly.
This coming from someone who can't type journalist properly.
1:23PM on 12/15/2011
digital821, it pays to keep quiet on criticism in terms of grammatical errors. No-one on here listens...
digital821, it pays to keep quiet on criticism in terms of grammatical errors. No-one on here listens...
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