The game is afoot again with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. The sequel takes everything that worked in the first film and cranks it up for a movie that is faster and more epic. It also makes the most of pitting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes against his greatest villain Professor Moriarty – a scene stealing Jared Harris.
Directed by Guy Ritchie and written by Michele and Kieran Mulroney, the film stars Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Harris, Stephen Fry, Paul Anderson, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James, and Eddie Marsan.
Trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, the film (which at times takes on a James Bond feel) finds Law’s Dr. Watson pulled into another wild case of Downey's Holmes - even as he is trying to say his goodbyes to his old friend and finally marry Mary (Reilly). Holmes gets pulled into a deadly game with Professor Moriarty (Harris) – who is moving nations like pieces of a chess board to set up a World War and make millions from selling arms to all sides.
Tracking down clue after clue, Holmes crosses Europe (and makes sure to drag poor Watson along for the ride) as he attempts to stop Moriarty from achieving his goal. Along the way, Holmes manages to make Watson late for his own wedding; have a run in with some gypsies; throw Mary Watson from a moving train; and question his own abilities to prevent Moriarty from winning.
Some of the film’s twists are easy to spot coming, but the cast has such great chemistry the audience manages to stay entertained from start to finish. Ritchie keeps all the tweaks he made to the Sherlock Holmes stories in the first movie (the action sequences still feature the slow-motion “Matrix” style filming as Holmes discusses how he will win the fight), but also gave the film a fresh look as the characters develop more and are given more room to breathe – despite the fast pace.
Even though the film has a more action oriented feel to it, the strength of the franchise continues to be the bromance between Holmes and Watson and the banter between Downey and Law. The two actors help the film overcome any weakness and are the reason I want to see the franchise continue.
They both feel even more confident in the legendary roles, and it is quickly getting hard to picture anyone else playing the parts (despite the excellent job Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman do on their BBC series Sherlock).
Every great hero is only as good as his villain and Harris’ cold performance as Moriarty gives the audience a villain that we are not sure Holmes can beat. The talented actor makes the most of the role while seeming to do very little at all. He knows Moriarty doesn’t have to be over-the-top and instead sends chills with a simple glare or quiet threat to Holmes. The final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty sells the movie and leaves the audience wanting more from both characters.
Ritchie’s film also looks incredible on Blu-ray with the format capturing every detail that went into the production designs, costuming, and filming. Everything about this movie feels more epic than the first outing, and shows that the franchise is just getting stronger. The Blu-ray also comes with Maximum Movie Mode which lets the audience enjoy the movie with Downey – which is worth watching if you are a fan of the franchise.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has some problems, but they are easy to overlook thanks to the chemistry between Law and Downey, the chilling performance of Harris, and the epic scope of the story. The ending does what every great Sherlock Holmes adventure should do – leaves you wanting another game.
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