I Saw A Film Today… Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

My favorite literary figure of all time is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s unorthodox detective Sherlock Holmes. It is with some great pride that I have read all 56 short stories and the 4 novels. Plus a few of Doyle’s essays and parodies on the great detective. And although the Guy Ritchie films have not particularly followed any of the stories mentioned above, they don’t seem outside the realm of Holmes’ universe. And that’s why I enjoyed the first one so much- Ritchie gives the illusion of unearthing some long-lost Holmes stories.

******

While Doctor John Watson (Jude Law) is only days away from being engaged to Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly), his friends Sherlock (Robert Downey Jr.) is in entirely different engagement. His is a dangerous one with his opponent being the devious Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Moriarty want to begin war in Europe while a manic Holmes is prepared to stop him, with the help of Watson of course.

But before doing so Holmes and his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) must throw the good doctor a stag party. Secretly though Holmes is recruiting the help of a French gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace), who may hold the key to Moriarty’s plans. From here the trio makes their way through France, Germany, and eventually Switzerland. But how far is Holmes willing to go before someone close is hurt?

A Game of Shadows is much more subdued than its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong, it is coke-fueled adrenaline ride the entire film. I mean, it is a Guy Ritchie film after all. But it is more refined and better laid out. And this is what makes the film better than the first.

This film also has a connection to one of Sir Conan Doyle’s short stories (“The Final Problem”, which may be one of his most famous writing outside of The Hound of the Baskervilles). But here again, Ritchie does take certain artistic liberties. Ritchie also hasn’t quite fixed some of the previous issues of his first film. At the end of the movie there is still a big “hizzah” reveal on how Holmes solved the case. Although to his credit it is more believable and smoother than the previous film.

Robert Downey Jr. has become really comfortable in this role, not to say he wasn’t to begin with. In a long line of men who have portrayed the detective, I can say my favorites Holmes’ have been Downey Jr. and Peter Cushing. But Downey would not nearly be as effective without Jude Law as Doctor Watson. The two compliment each other so well.

Jared Hess is a perfect cast as Professor Moriarty. The scenes between Downey and him are tense and well-scripted. He’s menacing and subtle. Who isn’t is the genius of Stephen Fry. I just wish he had received more screen time than he did. And as much as I love Noomi Rapace, she just seemed uncomfortable in her role, even if she does do a good job.

A Game of Shadows is a fun romp through late 1800’s Europe. And a successful sequel to boot.

Verdict: SEE IT!

* Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material.

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.

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2 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”

  1. I hated this one and the first one. I praise Downey jr.’s performance but sadly even he could not save this franchise from being ranked among the most boring and difficult to follow that I’ve ever seen. I agree that the character of Sherlock Holmes is a fantastic literary creation but the character deserves a far better film series than this.

  2. Although all of the freshness that was part of the first one is somewhat over-used, the flick is still a lot of fun with Downey Jr., Harris, and Law breathing life into each of their own characters. However, I was kind of disappointed by Noomi Rapace’s role as she just simply stands there and really doesn’t do anything. Regardless though, good review Kev.

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