Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Posted: January 12, 2012 by gd2525 in Movies

By Shaun Smith

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Robert Downey Jr. reprises his Golden Globe winning role as Sherlock Holmes in this sequel to the hit 2009 film of the same name. He is joined by his trusty sidekick Watson played again by Jude Law. Sherlock’s love interest from the first film Irene, played by Rachel McAdams, appears for a small portion of the film but is the only relation to the story in the first film. Once again directed by Guy Richie, Game of Shadows follows Holmes and Watson trying to defeat the evil Professor Moriarty, played well by British character actor Jared Harris. Joining Holmes along the investigation is a gypsy played by the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Noomi Rapace.

Much like the first film, Game of Shadows takes it’s time for the story to unravel. Even from the very beginning Holmes reveals that it is Moriarty detonating bombs in Europe. Unlike in the first film where Holmes couldn’t find the villain, Downey Jr. actually meets face to face with Moriarty. In a way this diminishes any importance of the two characters during a final brawl, which is eminent to happen in a film like this. The film also includes a boring side-plot of Watson getting married and his reluctance to team with Holmes.

There was many times where the film dragged on far too long in the attempt to include elaborate action scenes. It’s nice to see the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Law but after a while they both become mindless pun-spewing machines. Even Noomi is completely lost in the film and seems to have nothing to do other than run away from a knife-wielding henchman.

The biggest problem Game of Shadows faces is the story, or lack thereof. Its fine to have a simple story but the film becomes so simple that you become bored. I wouldn’t be surprised if the screenwriters basically wrote every comical pun they could think of and then attempted a narrative. Even though we are given very little back-story to the character of Moriarty, Jared Harris does his best to save this film from sheer boredom.

There was actually a point of the film during the third act where we finally got the battle between Holmes and Moriarty that started to peak my interest. For once in the film, Guy Richie gave us a creative narrative during a game of chess. Unfortunately after that scene is over the film reverts back to the first two acts. Not to mention the resolution of that scene is so mind numbingly awful that I become angry just thinking about it. Literally some characters just leave and it is never explained what happened to them. Watson goes from chasing one of the upper-bad guys to popping into the final battle. What the hell happened to the other bad guy? Did Watson catch him? At this point who really cares?

The best way to describe Game of Shadows is a glorified deleted scenes reel located of the DVD for the original Sherlock Holmes. Nothing in the film feels deserving of a second feature film. If it wasn’t for Harris’ in the lead villain role, this film would have been a complete disaster. I liked the first film and thought it was thoroughly entertaining but this is not a worthy sequel. If they are planning to make a third film, which is totally possible, I hope they get rid of the film’s screenwriters and hire someone who knows what a story actually is.

Rating: C-

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