Entertainment Magazine

Review #3200: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Posted on the 27 December 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Andy Spencer

Writers: Kieran Mulroney, Michele Mulroney, Guy Ritchie
Director: Guy Ritchie

The 2009 “Sherlock Holmes” film was a relatively slow-paced, more actiony take on the world’s greatest detective (sorry, Batman). Though there were a bit too many punches thrown and not enough clues analyzed, it was definitely a good time, held up by the considerable talents of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. While this pair’s chemistry is back and as strong as ever this time around, most the fun is conspicuously absent.

Review #3200: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

The film’s first hour or so is actually too fast. The overall plot is easy enough to follow, but the individual scenes are not. The action is edited in such a way that I actually had to work hard to follow what I was watching. Nothing memorable really happens, leaving a pretty bad first impression. One minute, a bar fight. Two minutes later, a wedding. The transitions were jarring enough that for a split second I actually asked myself how Holmes and Watson got to where they were. That’s a bad sign for any film.

The villain, Professor Moriarty, is trying to preemptively start World War I by bombing and supplying various European countries with war materiel. Holmes repeats throughout the film that Moriarty is too careful to leave any clues behind. This leaves Holmes to deduce what he can from the various locales. Since a significant amount of this deduction happens at the scenes of Moriarty’s crimes, the villain really does feel one step ahead of Holmes, creating a more tense atmosphere than that in the first film. The suspense keeps the movie together to the same degree that the pair of leads’ acting does.

Despite tripping over its own feet in the first half, the film does find its pace in the second half. The action is coherent, the story starts to come to a head, and the film stops trying to make me laugh every three minutes. Holmes starts moving in on Moriarty, and things get more deliberate. The film catches its breath. Suddenly, one can focus on little details that might or might not carry meaning, just like Holmes does, bringing you into the film in some very clever ways. The final twenty-or-so minutes of the movie are easily the best of it, with a very good mix of detective work and action that make every prior scene look amateur by comparison. However, this is certainly not enough to make up for the criminally lackluster beginning and middle.

In addition, one thing that fans of the original will definitely notice is that the soundtrack is simply not at the same level of quality as the first. Especially in terms of the title sequence, the music is a bit too overpowering, which would be fine if it was not so aggravating.

Though not a bad film by any means, “A Game of Shadows” is a classic example of a sequel that, despite its best efforts, simply cannot live up to its predecessor’s legacy. It is worth a ticket purchase for sure, but do not expect any miracles.

Score: 6/10

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