Monday, January 2, 2012


"If you are like me and were a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then I recommend that you see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows before it leaves the theaters!"

Mystery, Suspense, Action, Adventure and Fantasy

Starring - Robert Downey Jr./Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law/Dr. John Watson, Noomi Rapace/Madam Simza Heron, Rachel McAdams/Irene Adler, Jared Harris/Professor James Moriarty, Stephen Fry/Mycroft Holmes & Kelly Reilly/Mrs. Mary Watson
Director - Guy Ritchie
Writers - Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney
PG-13 - for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material.
2hr., 8 min.

When I went to see Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes film in 2009, I was as skeptical as any fan of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, as to whether Ritchie’s “modern” approach to Holmes and his Victorian era London would work. However, when I left the theater, I was a convert and was as reenergized in my love for the iconic detective as much as I was upon my first viewing of Jeremy Brett’s first portrayal of Holmes in the 1984 British Granada Television’s adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia".

Two years later, Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has upped the ante of the first film, by pitting Holmes against his greatest foe, Professor James Moriarty! Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is about two things: The end of Holmes and Watson’s partnership and the beginning of Holmes and Moriarty’s moral antithesis and commensurate rivalry.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is based in part on "The Final Problem".  That story introduced Professor James Moriarty and also ended in Switzerland and the Reichenbach Falls. However, the film defers from the plot of the short story in many ways; adding many a complex plot thread that only adds to the fun and sophistication of the final problem.

Watson’s honeymoon to his new bride is interrupted by dozens of assassins, but a disguised Holmes is there to help save Mrs. Watson and dispatch the villains. Holmes informs Watson that Moriarty is threatening him and his wife, because Holmes has refused to cease his investigations into the plot of Moriarty to instigate war between France and Germany, by assassinating a key figure of the upcoming European Peace Conference. Holmes and Watson join forces one last time and head to France where Holmes believes the brother of a gypsy woman, Madam Simza Heron, has been coerced into Moriarty’s plot.

Guy Ritchie has taken a complex plot and integrated it with enough big action sequences and broad humor to keep the film steamrolling at an unrelenting pace! Yet, when the final scene occurs, it is Holmes’s trust in Watson and Holmes ability to outwit Moriarty that makes the finish of Game of Shadows so satisfying. If you were not a fan of the first film, than nothing I can say will convince you that Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is worth your time. However, if you are like me and were a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then I recommend that you see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows before it leaves the theaters.

My rating for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is 93 out of 100.

How I arrived at this grade is through a simple formula of criteria that I consider to be the basis of what is needed to evaluate a film. Every category is graded on a 5 to 10 scale, with 10 obviously being the highest and 5 the lowest. At some point in the future, I may go into detail on my system, but for now just know that the highest score I could give a film would be a 100 and the lowest being a 50.

TECHNICAL: Acting - 10 Directing -10 Cinematography - 9 Script - 9
Special Effects - VISCERAL: Visual - 10 Auditory - 9 Intellectual - 8
Emotional - 9 Involvement -10 = TOTAL RATING       93


  1. Good write-up. I felt much the same way you did, and I agree that if one didn't like the first one, this is a movie to stay away from... but that it's most certainly worth paying to see on the big screen if you did like the 2009 flick.

  2. Thanks, Steve! Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows was definitively a step up from Sherlock Holmes, in terms of plot, characters, production and overall scope.

    It was absolutely worth it to see at the theater – but because I saw Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows two weeks after its release, my local movie house had already put it in one of their 50-seat theaters, so the “big screen” wasn’t that big. Add to that the theater was one of those annoyingly laid out ones with the aisle in the middle of the theater so that no matter where you sit, you’re slightly off to the side… I was not happy with the theater. Still, by the time the second reel was unspooling (yes, it was an actual film, as I could see the worn lines on the film stock in some scenes) I was so involved in the film that I forgot these minor quibbles with the theater.

  3. Although all of the freshness that was part of the first one is somewhat over-used, the flick is still a lot of fun with Downey Jr., Harris, and Law breathing life into each of their own characters. However, I was kind of disappointed by Noomi Rapace’s role as she just simply stands there and really doesn’t do anything. Regardless though, good review.

  4. I assume by the “freshness” in the first film, you are referring to Guy Ritchie’s use of the slo-mo flash-forward technique in the fight/action sequences to demonstrate Holmes’ ability to anticipate in advance the actions and reactions to the forthcoming conflict. I didn’t count the number of times this technique was used in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, but it didn’t seem excessive to me. Still, because it had already been established that Holmes used this anticipatory method in the first film, it may have felt redundant to fans of that film. I think Ritchie used it just to be consistent with the original film and also to inform viewers who might not have seen Sherlock Holmes.

    I agree that Noomi Rapace’s character, Madam Simza Heron, was dreadfully underused, but perhaps Ritchie or the screenwriters did not want to make her too much of a feminist, for fear of making her too similar to Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler in the first film. BTW: I was not happy the way Ms. Adler was dispatched so early on in SH:AGoS.

    Thanks for the comments, Dan!

  5. This was great fun, I agree. What I liked most about it was the comedy, the dialog betwee Watson and Holmes was often times hilarious, I wonder what this film would be like without robert Downey Jr.?

  6. I’m glad to hear you liked Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows as much as I did, Francisco!

    I agree that the chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. John Watson was especially razor-sharp in this second film! I don’t know how much freedom these actors were given to deviate from the script, but both their comic and dramatic verbal exchanges really flowed in this outing.

    I honestly feel that any other actor would have played Sherlock with a much more serious tone. That might not have been a bad thing either. However, Robert Downey Jr. is so good at balancing the quick wit with the terse drama that I don’t think any other actor would play it better than he.

  7. I got throug watching the first one Fritz, I ended up enjoying it even more than the sequel! The characters are just fun as hell, I enjoyed many things about the first film. I'll be posting a review for both films soon, look forward to that!

  8. I agree that the first film spent more time on the Holmes/Watson relationship, but I still prefer the plot and villain of the sequel. I look forward to reading your reviews of both of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock films, Francisco!

  9. Always a pleasure to meet a Sherlockian :)

    I have seen the first movie and liked it. I need to check the second one out.

    Brett is my favorite Holmes as well.


  10. Thanks for the comments, Buddy2blogger!

    While I’m not as much of a “Sherlockian” as some, I have read most of Doyle’s cannon and many other pastiche works as well. I’ve also watched just about every film and television iteration of Sherlock Holmes over the years, so I’m fairly particular on what type of Holmes I prefer on screen. Until Jeremy Brett’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone’s Holmes was my favorite. I wasn’t keen on Bruce's portrayal of Dr. Watson as a doddering old fool, so I was pleased that Watson’s portrayals by David Burke and later by Edward Hardwicke in the Granada Television productions were much closer to the literary source.

    By all means, watch Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – especially since you liked the first film. The second film builds of the first and does a fine job of riffing on – if not actually adapting - "The Final Problem".