The good news is, Dr. Watson does get married. The bad news is, Sherlock Holmes throws his bride off a moving train. Actually, there's even worse news than that--but all will be explained in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the sequel to Guy Ritchie's 2009 hit. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law return to their roles as Holmes and Watson, as the duo take on the world's greatest criminal mind, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), a man whose latest scheme has global implications. Sherlockians who prefer their consulting detective to remain in a traditional mode... had best look the other way, for the sequel continues Ritchie's vision of Holmes as a hard-punching action hero hurtling through a barrage of special effects sequences. If you can go with that, A Game of Shadows actually improves on the first film: the story makes a little more sense (or possibly the whole thing moves so smoothly you don't notice the illogic), Harris is a delicious villain, and new cast members Noomi Rapace (from the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series) and Stephen Fry (playing Sherlock's brother Mycroft, who calls his sibling "Sherlie") add appeal. It's all frivolous and superficial, but the film's playful attitude and breathless forward motion are skillfully managed--and the final note adds just the right punctuation. --Robert Horton [show more]
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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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law reprise their roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in Guy Ritchie&39;s second adaptation of the classic Arthur Conan Doyle detective novels When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) pronounces suicide as the cause of death But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been murdered - and is soon untangling an international web of intrigue in which all threads appear to lead to criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) The supporting cast includes Stephen Fry Kelly Reilly Geraldine James and Noomi Rapace