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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows DVD

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the very much anticipated 2011 sequel to the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes. This highly entertaining action adventure, based on Holmes, the unusual but lovable extrovert created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his literary masterpiece, was skilfully directed by Guy Ritchie. This tale of mystery and intrigue sees the intrepid pair, Sherlock played by Robert Downey JR and Watson, his devoted sidekick played by Jude Law, amalgamating their boundless intellects possibly for the last time as Watsons imminent marriage threatens to terminate their ever-loyal, bizarrely harmonious partnership.

Once again the villain of the piece is Sherlock's arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) whose evil plot involves his trademark large scale death and destruction. With the help of gypsy Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace) and Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) they combine all their skill and ingenuity to try to stop the wicked villain in time; a quest which takes them far from their usual London surroundings and into several European countries. Elementary my dear.....!

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  • Average Rating for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 4 out of 5


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  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
    Julian Howard

    Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is Guy Ritchie's second Holmes movie after the simply titled 'Sherlock Holmes' of 2009. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law star once more, apparently turning down other projects in order to prioritise working together on the new vehicle. The film itself is not strictly based on any one Arthur Conan Doyle story but takes inspiration from The Final Problem. This need not deter viewers though, because what is clear is that the wit, visual delight and breathless plot mechanism that made the original so good have largely been carried over. The story itself is an intriguing mystery with strong overtones of international conspiracy. Very briefly, Holmes and Watson uncover a plan to bring Europe closer to a war which would inevitably benefit the villainous Professor Moriarty who has cynically invested in industries which would directly benefit from such a conflict, most obviously armaments. The film transports us from turn of the century London to the continent and then Switzerland for its thrilling climax.

    While the plot as described provides a firm foundation for this film, it is the dialogue, photography and attention to detail that make it so compelling. In dialogue terms, the exchanges between Holmes and Watson and Holmes and Moriarty are super-witty and you find yourself rewinding to catch every last nuance of what is being said. The photography has Ritchie's signature all over it, especially through the bold use of time slice photography during the incredible escape from the armaments factory. However, the best party trick of them all is the way in which Holmes assesses how he might fare in a fight against any given adversary, only seconds before the fight actually begins. He predicts every move like a chess player with all the possible outcomes and this is played out onto the screen with brutal and violent frankness. This same technique is then used with devastating effect at the very end of the film when for the first time we are led to believe - shock horror! - that Holmes might not come out on top after all. I'll say no more for fear of spoiling it for others.

    Next is the attention to detail. I'm trying to avoid the cliché of 'visual feast' but the expression really does describe this film perfectly. The neat marriage of Victoriana and turn of the century cutting edge technology reveals a slew of gadgetry that on the surface looks old and brassy until you realise that is exactly what the modern equivalents are based on. We are treated to early but still highly effective versions of gattling guns, sniper rifles, cars, artillery pieces and even an oxygen inhaler. None of this detracts from the film; instead it enriches it and brings out the schoolboy hobbyist in all of us. "Cool!", I find myself gasping involuntarily as the gattling gun wreaks havoc in the train sequence.

    But this isn't purely a gadget movie. No Guy Ritchie film would be complete without a snappy and positive portrayal of some of society's more marginalised and misunderstood members. In this case the Roma Gipsies feature but are given fairer treatment than is usually accorded them in films where a degree of stereotyping has tended to creep in. The subsequent Gipsy campfire party in which Holmes and Watson indulge themselves a little too much is trademark Ritchie and just one of many fascinating off-shoots which the film meanders into without completely losing direction or focus. Stephen Fry also makes a welcome appearance as Holmes's eccentric brother Mycroft; his brief but hilarious performance left me wondering why this British national treasure doesn't choose to do more movie work.

    In short, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is another fine effort by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, with sufficient chemistry between the characters and visual amusement to keep the viewer fully engaged right the way through. The jury is out on whether this film is better than the previous; it's almost a pointless debate because plot-wise they are quite different animals, even if stylistically they are similar. If I was being really picky, I might say that the dialogue is 'only' 98% as good as the previous film's, but the ample compensation for that barely noticeable slippage is some incredible set-piece scenes - the aforementioned armaments factory escape being one - and arguably an even more engaging storyline. Either way, it's clear that there is plenty of mileage left in this Sherlock Holmes franchise and we can safely look forward to more instalments in the coming years.

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