Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Robert Downey Jr., Noomi Rapace and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Mind games of two level-headed geniuses

Rating: ***

Guy Ritchie’s sequel to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes doesn’t disappoint. It adds more depth to Holmes. Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Final Problem, the film follows Holmes as he battles a Victorian megalomaniac who poses a bigger threat than Lord Blackwood did in the first film. Yet, Jared Harris’ Professor Moriarty is less convincing when compared to Mark Strong’s Lord Blackwood. Swedish star, Noomi Rapace plays Simza, a Parisian fortune-telling gypsy who despite her entertaining sword fights doesn’t match up to Irene Adler from the first film.

While I initially chose not to compare the sequel and the prequel, I felt both films weren’t in the same level. While the first film was in the true Guy Ritchie essence, the second one becomes something that today’s influenced directors would do. Ritchie does dabble in eye candy CGI which he uses extensively in the penultimate forest battle that features Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law sprinting in slow motion as bullets and bombs graze past them, and splinters of wood erupt from the trees.

Ah! Bromance!

Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as a fashion designer and a horticulturist. When did this bohemian detective ever become socially enthusiastic? And the scenes having him dress as a woman are mere gags. They don’t appeal much and when they do, they’re in lesser portions. One of the highlights of the first film, the bromance (brotherly romance) is least exploited.

Ritchie ensures upfront that this film is rather more serious when compared to the prequel. From tough fisticuffs to tougher gunfire, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is in its own way a good film. Running for two hours, the film doesn’t fail to entertain you. It’s just that you don’t get what the first film gave you – sheer delight.

I’m telling you again – this is a good film, and a darker sequel. 

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Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes Poster

Murder in London? Go to 221B Baker Street.

Rating: ****

Guy Ritchie is an auteur.His subtle use of black comedy becomes a large part of Sherlock Holmes. This film is perhaps not the best version of Sir Conan Doyle’s stories, but it is the quintessential Guy Ritchie film. Robert Downey’s Sherlock Holmes thinks faster than Daniel Craig’s James Bond.

Take the vital elements in it – Ironic mix of humor and violence (aka Black Comedy), lots of fist fights between the baddies and the good guys (Holmes, Dr. Watson and sometimes Irene Adler), ‘best buddies-get-emotional’ scenes (we’ve seen it in Snatch and heavily in RocknRolla) and most notably Ritchie’s favorite villain – Mark Strong. Moreover, Lord Blackwood’s famed Satanism seems to be a cover-up for his use of trickery and science in his most devious escape from death.

In prison, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) warns Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) that he will rise after death.

Downey gives you a more masculine version of Holmes and yes, he is charming enough to handle the humor. Jude Law’s Dr. John Watson is more likely the strongest character in the film, apart from the French-speaking baddie, Dredger. The funny thing is that Ritchie’s previous flicks never had a female lead (Thandie Newton in RocknRolla wasn’t the lead). Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler is a sublime performance. Here, Rachel’s portrayal of a beautiful but dangerous woman in Holmes’ life lacks the charm.

Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) and Holmes get into some serious trouble which leads to more and more action.

The second one, Kelly Reilly’s Mary Morstan who plays Watson’s love interest may be in for more than she knows. The advent of Mary on the scene sends Holmes into fits of petulance. Even when Watson booms “I’m marrying her Holmes!” he tries to avoid her shadow.

Holmes and the femme fatale Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) play a cat and mouse game in the film.

Sherlock Holmes happens in Victorian England. Hence, visual effects are a big boost to the film. Watch out for the Tower Bridge. It is the best any animator could do. Full marks to the costume design and art direction team, they really did their homework.

Sherlock Holmes is vastly entertaining with many enchanting visuals. However, it fails to reincarnate Sir Conan Doyle’s vision. Instead, it is Guy Ritchie’s commercial formula.