Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Directed by: Guy Ritchie Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace Running Time: 2 hrs 9 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: December 16, 2011
PLOT: Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) and his sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law) are thrown together once again. This time they must try and defeat the infamous Professor Moriarty (Harris).
WHO'S IT FOR? If you saw and kind of liked the 2009 film, this should do the trick. There is definitely plenty of action, which for some is completely out of place for Sherlock Holmes.
EXPECTATIONS: Without double-checking, I think I gave the 2009 film a 6/10, and thought it lacked a decent villain. I was hoping that wouldn't be the case for this one.
Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes: This character is a nice fit for Downey Jr., especially when Holmes gets a little harebrained. I like that they brought back Holmes "extreme-thinking" before he fights. It was my favorite part of the first movie and the only thing that felt original. Downey Jr. is at his best when he has a lost look in his eyes, but secretly knows what's up. He has plenty of chances for that with this role. Score: 8
Jude Law as Dr. John Watson: The limp, the hair, the accent and the rolling of the eyes add up to a very nice sidekick to Holmes. Dr. Watson helps on occasion, but we can see it's Holmes running the show. Fresh off of marriage, Dr. Watson is dragged back into the thick of it simply because he knows Holmes. I guess you should be careful who your friends are, but in this case we're lucky it's Downey Jr. and Law. They make a fun pair. Score: 8
Jared Harris as Professor James Moriarty: There were rumors that Brad Pitt was going to play Moriarty. Harris isn't a household name by any means, but I love the result. He's best known for his work on "Mad Men" and here he embodies the less is more ... evil. It helps that he's actually willing to kill to get what he wants. The dynamic between Moriarty and Holmes is played quite well and I relished every moment Downey Jr. and Harris were battling wits. Score: 8
Rest of Cast: Rachel McAdams is back as Irene. While it's a smaller role, it's definitely worth the while. We get to meet Holmes' brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry). I'm not sure the necessity of this part, but Fry definitely makes the most of it, mainly for comic relief. Eddie Marsan comes back as Inspector Lestrade, but it's for a fleeting second. Noomi Rapace as Madam Simza Heron doesn't really add or take away much from this film. It's a nice move for her after the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Score: 7
TALKING: Downey Jr. has his Queen's English accent down (and he referred to it on "The Late Show with David Letterman.") While on paper, some of the lines look pretty lame, the cast is able to make the most out of them and twist the dialogue very nicely. One example is Holmes saying, "It's so overt, it's covert." Trust me, Downey Jr. makes it work. They even make talking about a chess game fun. Score: 7
SIGHTS: You mean besides Holmes on a tiny horse, which is oddly hilarious? OK, I rarely mention the set design, but this film is really something to look at. A lot of work was put in and for me, it's money well spent. There is one action sequence that stands out with great use of slow-motion. Besides a certain Mission: Impossible film, this was my favorite action movie to look at in 2011. The dark grey tones on everything help bring to the correct-looking life. Score: 9
SOUNDS: The musical score is once again fantastic in the Sherlock Holmes films. I never tired of it. It's playful, purposeful and fits so well with the tone of these films. I get musical scores sent to me along with screeners of films wanting to be nominated. I was actually sad this musical score didn't come my way. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: I'll go with the action sequence where Holmes and Watson escape from the weapon factory. It's slow-motion action at its best.
ENDING: Also very good. Holmes and Moriarty have a battle of intelligence and potential strength. It's actually the type of ending I wanted from the first film. I was sincerely worried/touched.
QUESTIONS: Did you ever care if they found Simza's brother? I never got into that aspect of it and I didn't even feel like the film needed it. Did anyone notice the subtitles didn't have any punctuation? I wonder why.
REWATCHABILITY: I would happily sit through this film again and I imagine a future where I would always get stuck getting sucked in on cable.
I'm not someone who is upset by the updated, action-focused Sherlock Holmes. This is mainly because of the charm of Downey Jr. and Law in the roles of Holmes and Dr. Watson, but also because there is still intelligence. Sure it's a movie trick, but it's still there. I love that Holmes will glance quickly around the room, keying in on a couple of objects. We, the audience, are trying to make sense of what we're even looking at. Holmes is figuring out how it all fits together. Thankfully, this time around so is an evil villain. Harris steps up to the big leagues (OK, bigger leagues than what he's been in before) and does a really good job as the potentially smarter Moriarty. The first film lacked a compelling villain. That's not the case here and you want to see these two go toe-to-toe.
Guy Ritchie seems to relish playing with all of these toys and fantastic actors. It's a blockbuster that deserves our attention. That alone is actually a rare thing. They improve on the first film and I found myself caring for these characters instead of just liking what I was looking at. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is worth your holiday time.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10