Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Doyle’s heroes recreated by Guy,
Crosses Pirates with Withnail & I,
This sequel is bigger,
More puzzles to figure,
But a third could see the fun die.
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As with all sequels these days, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows brings more exotic destinations, more laughs and more action. This seems to be the on-going trend with all movie franchises, whether they’re pirates, alien robots or secret agents.
Guy Ritchie returns with his adaptation of the characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories, revolving around the unorthodox detective Sherlock Holmes and his straight-laced sidekick, Dr. John Watson.
And while Ritchie remains loyal to the themes and tone of his source, he applies his own signature style of filmmaking to unravel the mysteries – and the slow-motion fight sequences and mechanical explanations are still a novelty the second time around.
However, Ritchie’s biggest flaw is that he underestimates the intelligence of his audience. He lays too much focus on the objects and character mannerisms that should remain subtle clues. Making them obvious makes some of the twists too predictable and ruins the element of surprise.
Robert Downey Jr. is back as Sherlock, who would best be described as a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and Withnail. And while he often seems bored with the part, the relationship between Holmes and Watson remains the key to these films.
This is largely due to Jude Law’s ability play the straight man, without the urge to try and steal scenes from his more-animated partner. Law’s portrayal of Watson is almost identical to that of Martin Freeman’s in the BBC television series, and this is a good thing. Both portray the cold exterior of an ex-soldier, who at heart is also good-natured and loyal to his wife and friend.
Stephen Fry is perhaps the biggest name on the supporting cast, playing Sherlock’s free-spirited brother. Other standouts include the original girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace, relatively unknown Paul Anderson and the return of both Rachel McAdams (in a very minor role) and Kelly Reilly.
If you have seen the British film Tyrannosaur, then seeing Eddie Marsan’s return as Inspector Lestrade will probably make you squirm.
As revealed at the end of the original, the sequel’s villain is Professor James Moriarty, Sherlock’s most challenging adversary from the stories. Here he is played by Jared Harris, who while interesting, is not as magnetic as Mark Strong is in the first film – so the significance of his character is not captured.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is exactly what you expect it to be – just like the first but with more of everything. This is a good or bad thing depending on whether you enjoyed the first film. But as a fan of Downey Jr. and the original stories by Conan Doyle, I loved it.
If they decide to do another (which I’m sure they will), I just hope they scatter a stack of smaller cases within the overall story. I’d like to see the tale of The Red-Headed League thrown into the plot somehow, as it’s one of my favourites.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is in cinemas now.