Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

2011-12-28 11:18
 
Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows
What it's about:

Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law bicker and banter and bob and weave with significantly diminishing returns in this sequel to the 2009 smash hit Sherlock Holmes.

What we thought:

Director Guy Ritchie once again applies his revisionist approach to Arthur Conan Doyle's classic literary character, infusing the film with his trademark, hyperkinetic aesthetic and turning the renowned detective into a wisecracking butt-kicker. But what seemed clever and novel the first time around now feels stale and tired; a lot of that has to do with the grimy, grey colour scheme, which smothers everything in a dreary, suffocating sameness and saps the film of any real tension or thrills.

While Downey is more than capable of tossing off impish quips - he's based an entire career on being charmingly subversive - his heart just doesn't seem to be in it. Sure, he gets a couple of funny lines here and there, and some of his wardrobe changes are good for a laugh, but it's as if the material just isn't challenging him. And that's a shame, since this time we meet Holmes' most famed foe.

Game of Shadows finds Downey's Holmes facing off against brilliant super-villain Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), who's cooked up a scheme to pit various European nations against each other in hopes of benefitting from the demand for arms. (This is more than a couple decades before World War I, by the way. So not only is Moriarty dastardly, he's also prescient.)

Holmes must stop him with the help of his trusty sidekick, Dr Watson (Law), who's newly married and not nearly so gung-ho about such wild antics anymore. And it shows in the script from Michele and Kieran Mulroney as well as in the performances; Law gets little to do beyond functioning as the skeptical straight man, and the chemistry just isn't there this time.

Noomi Rapace tags along for some reason as Simza, a gypsy fortune teller looking for her missing brother. Ostensibly this is because the filmmakers felt the need to inject a female figure as part of their adventures, and the saucy Rachel McAdams, who played Holmes' love interest in the first film, gets knocked out of the picture early.

But the formidable presence Rapace displayed in the original Swedish The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels goes to waste. In a mound of wavy hair and gaudy jewellery, she's asked to run and look worried, and that's about it.

Again and again, though, Ritchie falls back on the same super-slow-motion visual effects he used in the first film: sequences in which Holmes can foresee how a physical showdown will play out, narrate it blow-by-blow, then take part in it in sped-up fashion.

It's cool-looking the first couple times; Ritchie trots out this trick about eight times too many, to the point where you begin to wonder whether that's all he's got left in his bag. But even straight-up chase scenes and shootouts are so amplified and over-edited, they become incomprehensible.

Not that any sort of criticism matters: The ending of A Game of Shadows clearly sets up a third film in the series. And so Downey can trot out that British accent and don his dapper Victorian duds once more.


Robert Downey Jr is as entertaining as ever in the titular role but Guy Ritchie just wheels out the same, tired bag of tricks for this grey and lifeless sequel.

BERT 2011/12/29 9:07 AM
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I agree with your review. BUT I enjoyed it as an adventure film. It was always going to be the middle film in the Sherlock homes adventure and had to build up to the 3rd instalment. Some how all follow ups does not hype up to the 1st or 3rd/ last installment. Still enjoyed it.
BOUNCA 2011/12/29 9:47 AM
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I saw the movie last night (28/12/2011) and thoughrouly enjoyed it. I firmly believe this movie outplayed the first one. My only real disappointment was that it was not shot in 3D as the explosive slow-mo action scenes looking so grity and enthrawlling. The onstage presence of Rob and Jude were brilliant however, I felt the Watson's role could have been a bit more inclusive as was in the forst installment. By far the best movie to end the year with. Sorry but not even MI5 lived upto its name this year to top Sherlock Holmes. Please go watch it nd end your yearon an excitting note.
narieman 2011/12/29 9:44 PM
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Thought the movie was a great sequel. Same formula yes, but it was a brilliant one to repeat. One of the better movies on circuit at the moment!
olwen 2012/01/01 5:53 PM
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This reviewer is an idiot. You need to put in a spoiler alert. Also add some praise for Professor Moriarty, he was scholarly, and psychotic. You just overlooked the positives and critised the repeat gimmicks. This is lazy reviewing.
byron 2012/01/03 9:10 AM
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Have to agree, loved the first but this was an absolute bore.... I feel Guy Ritchie is always hot and cold. Does something amazing and brilliant and then tries to repeat it and fails by over-complecating the storyline and leaving the audience confused until the very end where he tries to bring it all together... I have to admit I didnt watch the last 15min so it couldve come together for the last 15 but for the rest it was really really boring..
byron 2012/01/03 9:13 AM
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Have to agree, loved the first but this was an absolute bore.... I feel Guy Ritchie is always hot and cold. Does something amazing and brilliant and then tries to repeat it and fails by over-complecating the storyline and leaving the audience confused until the very end where he tries to bring it all together... I have to admit I didnt watch the last 15min so it couldve come together for the last 15 but for the rest it was really really boring..
Raleen 2012/01/05 5:28 PM
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I ghly recommend this film if you're having difficulty falling asleep.
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