Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (DVD)
The game is afoot once more! Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles as Holmes and Watson in the supersleuth sequel to the mystery megahit that minted over a half billion dollars worldwide. While vying with Watson's soon-to-be wife for the Doctor's time and attention, the detective extraordinaire matches wits with his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty (Mad Men's Jared Harris), a criminal genius who's conspiring to make a fortune by manufacturing the next generation of wartime weaponry that the world's great powers will be forced to use against one another... once Moriarty succeeds in provoking World War I, of course. Joining the dynamic duo on their adventure is a feisty gypsy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace) and Sherlock's craftier but crazier older brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry).]]>
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
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GAME OF SHADOWS concerns the first showdown between Holmes and Professor Moriarity (Jared Harris), the brilliant but evil genius who is Holmes' nemesis. The year is 1891, and Europe is on edge due to a number of assassinations and bombings. Each nation is blaming the other, and it seems that World War I will break out 23 years early. Only Holmes realizes that Moriarity is behind it all, for reasons of his own.
Moriarity attempts to destroy Holmes by targeting Irene Adler and the Watsons. Fortunately, Holmes has new allies as well, including his older, smarter, even more eccentric brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and Madam Simsa Heron (Noomi Rapace) who leads a gang of revolutionaries once coopted by Moriarity but now fighting against him.
GAME OF SHADOWS outshines the initial film. The pacing is faster, the scriptwriting more crisp, the humor more incisive, the action less pyrotechnic. If the film has a relative weakness, it is in the female leads. Kelly Reilly and Noomi Rapace both give well-acted performances in inconsequential "pretty girl" roles. Rachel McAdams is wonderful, but her part in GAME OF SHADOWS is much abbreviated. This is really a men's buddy film nonpareil. Downey and Law, having given us the backstory of their characters in the original film, have incredible chemistry together as Holmes and Watson, and are able to explore in depth the complicated, sometimes ridiculous, often rivalrous relationship between the two men. All in all, it is great fun.
You like watching films starring either Robert Downey Jr. or Jude Law
You enjoy action movies, because this sequel is probably a bit more action oriented than the first film, though not in a bad way.
You are a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mysteries or the Sherlock Holmes character in general
You enjoyed Raiders of the Lost Ark, other films from that series, or that type of action/adventure
This is a very well made motion picture that just keeps rollicking along until its climax. It proves to be a lot of fun along the way and has a decent storyline. Jude Law and the other supporting actors and actresses do a fine job, but Robert Downey Jr. makes this film, in much the same way I thought he dominated the screen in the Iron Man films and the recent Avengers film.
I watched this on a home theater with a 60 inch screen and full digital surround, but it still would have been better served in the theater. I am usually not a fan of sequels, but I hope they continue producing this series and keep it fresh. The first two films have been well above what passes for the current Hollywood average. I am sure I speak for many admirers when I say I wish Robert Downey Jr. continued success and look forward to seeing some of his future work.
These things being said, the movie is remarkably plotted, taking a new angle on the "Final Problem" of the original written account. Downey and Law work very well together and the supporting cast is excellent. This movie follows the first in visual effects of the dirt of London street life, the peculiar Zimmer music hinting at Bohemian melodies, and conveys a sense of class in scenes from Mozart's Don Giovanni drama (imitating Amadeus?) with the exact scene of King Leopold and subsequent dragging down to hell. Another scene seems to be stolen straight from "A Beautiful Mind" where Watson's former room has been converted into a "conspiracy map", similar to the garage scene in the Russel Crowe movie.
There are several curiousities in this work, one of which is the use of an 1889 Oswald Wirth Tarot Deck by Holmes when he consults a gypsy, and camoflauge techniques by Holmes that in the beginning are a reminder of "Robin and Marian" with apologies to Sean Connery. We are given a hint of the Diplomacy era prior to World War 1 (The Fall of Eagles?) The Arms of Krupp? As Holmes races across Europe trying to figure out the plan of the Evil mastermind. The result is a final encounter at a new and fashionable castle overlooking "Reichenbach Falls". A Chess match (late 1800s style pieces) between Holmes and the Professor transfers to a mental game and the end is , well if you had read the original work you know the ending!
There are a few interesting Bonus materials included! Nicely done overall.