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Overall Rating
2.94

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 12.12%
Average45.45%
Pretty Bad: 30.3%
Total Crap: 3.03%

3 reviews, 15 user ratings



Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
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by Jay Seaver

"Holmes and Watson on the surface; buddy-cop fare underneath."
3 stars

Part of the reason that Sherlock Holmes has persisted as a character for over a century is that he is much more flexible than he may first appear - get the basics right and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's character is a good fit for just about any time period, style, and genre. The trouble with "A Game of Shadows" isn't so much that it's a buddy action/adventure with director Guy Ritchie's fingerprints all over it, or that liberties are taken with the canonical stories, but that the characters are a bit off, more clearly than in the same crew's 2009 film.

As was discovered at the end of that movie, there's an intelligence behind the crime in England, one Professor James Moriarty (James Harris). Consulting Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is trying to find evidence via con artist Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), eventually hijacking the bachelor party of best friend John Watson (Jude Law) to follow up a lead with gypsy fortune-teller Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace). This sets them off on a chase through Europe as it becomes clear that Moriarty's plans are much greater than simply controlling crime in the London underworld.

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will recognize some of the things married writing team Michele & Kieran Mulroney throw into the script, picking up characters and elements from various Holmes stories and combining them to good effect. It's a fun story, growing from street crime to international conspiracies without the scale getting away from the film. There's a few fun action scenes, and the film actually outdoes the source material in one or two places, particularly in the scene many will know is coming when a certain Swiss village's name gets dropped early on.

And yet, something's off. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law make a fine mismatched pair, and the script gets their skills right, but making them a loose cannon and his sensible partner gets both wrong. This film's Holmes describes his knack for seeing detail as a curse, when it has traditionally been the times between interesting cases that had him looking for his seven percent solution; similarly, Watson has always been eager for adventure, even when he is domesticated. Having them wish to be more "normal" may make them more relatable, but a large part of these characters' appeal is that they are extraordinary. Downey and Law have great chemistry together, but there's often a sense that they could be playing any pair of partners, as opposed to Holmes and Watson specifically.

Of course, I can't fault the movie too much for how Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, MD come across, as Stephen Fry steals just about every scene he's in by playing Sherlock's serious but lethargic older brother Mycroft as, well, Stephen Fry: Convivial, witty, and though sizable, surprisingly active. Jared Harris is closer to the standard as Moriarty, and he's a good one, doing a nice job of combining brute malevolence with the sort of visible intelligence that would hatch such a sprawling master plan. Noomi Rapace is fine as a potential partner with an interest in the case, but it's hard to deny that such partners are inevitably somewhat extraneous.

A Game of Shadows is a slick production, although there are some problems (each of the geniuses in this movie has a turn at being unnecessarily foolish). The film occasionally seems to be trying too hard to get a laugh, rather than allowing them to come naturally from a group of clever, eccentric characters, and as in any sequel, the thrill of discovery is inevitably diminished even as the scale gets bigger. The slow-motion scenes here often seem like they exist more to be slick-looking for their own sake than to demonstrate how Sherlock's brain works. Even things like Hans Zimmer's celtic-infused score seem surprising this time around.

Of course, Sherlock Holmes can handle all this, and I'm likely being tougher on the filmmakers' understanding of the character than someone who hasn't loved the character since grade school Ritchie, Downey, Law, and company have crafted an enjoyable second adventure for their version of Holmes and Watson, and I would not object to a third (especially if Mycroft returns as well).

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=20919&reviewer=371
originally posted: 01/07/12 16:28:43
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Features Sherlock Holmes For more in the Sherlock Holmes series, click here.

User Comments

12/03/15 1800suckmydick well shot, well acted, well orchestrated, well done. 5 stars
1/17/13 ES Sherlock Holmes - Quantum of Solace. Sherlock shoots his way through a mystery 1 stars
9/19/12 Gabrielle Barnard I enjoyed the brilliant acting and intriguing story line. 5 stars
9/16/12 Eric Stevens It's Simply Entertaining from beginning to end-Quit overthinking it! Geezzz 5 stars
8/24/12 The Taitor A littleflat or a sequel but still wrotha rental at best. 3 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Better than the first movie, but not as good as the stories. 4 stars
7/01/12 mr.mike Worth a shot but gets dragged down by the plot-heavy second half.nyc 4 stars
1/24/12 Devin Sabas skip it. the bbc is doing it way better 2 stars
1/13/12 Donald Hallett not my type of movie boring 2 stars
1/02/12 Alan Left before the end. Boring. 2 stars
12/21/11 green O should be ok 3 stars
12/21/11 Stacie Clark haven't we done this before? 3 stars
12/20/11 KingNeutron I liked it even better than the 1st one - here's hoping for more to the story :) 4 stars
12/17/11 Ming Its better than the original. Its very witty and fun to watch 4 stars
12/16/11 PAUL SHORTT AIMS LOWER THAN ITS PREDESSOR'S MODEST AMBITION, AND STILL MISSES THE MARK 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  16-Dec-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 12-Jun-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  16-Dec-2011
  DVD: 12-Jun-2012


Directed by
  Guy Ritchie

Written by
  Kieran Mulroney
  Michele Mulroney

Cast
  Robert Downey Jr.
  Jude Law
  Noomi Rapace
  Jared Harris
  Stephen Fry



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