Review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011)

1 Jan

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011) is an adventure/action/mystery film. It is a sequel to Sherlock Holmes (2009). Both movies are based on the various literary works following the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch. (2000)), he also did the first movie.

Written by Michele Mulroney (Sunny & Share Love You (2007)) and Kieran Mulroney (Paper Man (2009)), considering their few writing credits on a couple of indie films, they seem a weird choice for a major studio movie.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jarred Harris, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry.

I must say I quite enjoyed the first movie, didn’t think of it as too great, mostly due to the liberties it took with the source material, but in this day and age you can’t expect an adaptation to not rape the original at least a little bit. So we get this kitschy, heavily stylised version of late 18th century England.

And they sort of twisted the characters to suit their needs. Holmes is now this extremely eccentric substance abuser and when I think of what the character is in these films, it’s just a combination of  Tony Stark and Gregory House. I guess the House part makes sense, since he was based on Sherlock Holmes. However, I do like that Dr. John Watson actually isn’t the sidekick who just stumbles around and wonders how Holmes does what he does. Here he is quick-witted, is good at being a detective, shows that he’s been in the army and he can damn well kick some ass if needed.

So that brings me to my favourite aspect of the movie – the interactions between Holmes and Watson. Downey Jr. and Jude Law just perform the buddy movie duo dynamic so well. You almost feel bad for Watson, who is the straight man in this combination, just trying to leave the detective work behind and have a simple family life, but Holmes keeps bringing him back against his will. This helps the movie a lot because it is fun to watch the dialogue, even when there isn’t any action on the screen.

I wasn’t too impressed by the Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, but it wasn’t bad either, to me the stand-outs were the Swedish actress (…um, playing a gypsy) Noomi Rapace, who I thought was stunningly beautiful in this and I can’t wait to see her in Prometheus. And Jared Harris was also great as Moriaty, he just nailed the classic movie-villain cold look in his eyes. Stephen Fry has a small role as Sherlock’s brother and there are hints at him being gay, so that’s a nice inside joke.

And the action is cool, Holmes again does the thing where he can in a fraction of a second think of some  fight moves shown at slow motion and then do them again in normal speed. And then there’s this beautiful sequence that is shown in the trailers, where people are running through a forest, while bullets are hitting the trees, scattering splinters in all directions, again all in slow motion, but here it actually looks amazing.

The ending was well-done, although you won’t be very surprised at the final twist. Also I’m not sure how long I want to see Watson just being dragged back into business by Holmes, I would have rather wanted them to have started the movies somewhat earlier in their lives, on the other hand we’ve already seen that way too many times.

Overall, I recommend this film, mostly because it is pure entertainment, don’t expect from it anything else and you won’t be disappointed.

Pictured: Watson kicking ass and rocking an insanely glorious moustache at the same time.

4 Responses to “Review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (2011)”

  1. Matt Stewart January 2, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    The fact that you call it pure entertainment makes me really want to see it. Good cast too, as we already know.

    Awesome review!

    • karlails January 2, 2012 at 10:39 am #

      I’m glad that my review has had this effect on you, now I should start worrying that I might have oversold it.
      I hope you’ll have fun and thanks for reading my awesome review.

  2. Amy January 10, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    I think your review is spot on. Very entertaining movie. Not a cinematic masterpiece, but very much worth the time. My favorite element is the interaction between Holmes and Watson. The dialogue was quick and whitty. I do feel that this one was easier to follow than the previous movie…this in itself makes it more entertaining, at least for me.

    • karlails January 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      Yeah, this one was a straight adventure movie and every question was immediately answered. In the first one it had more of a mystery to it. It might be more entertaining, but since Sherlock Holmes novels and short-stories fall into the detective genre, I think mystery is better suited in this case. However, it all depends on execution, better a good adventure story than some contrived mystery bullshit.

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