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Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

December 16, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – A Warner Bros. Pictures’ Release

Release Date: December 16th, 2011

Rated PG for violence

Running time: 128 minutes

Guy Ritchie (dir.)

Michele Mulroney (writer)

Kieran Mulroney (writer)

Based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Hans Zimmer (music)

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes

Jude Law as Dr. John Watson

Noomi Rapace as Madam Simza Heron

Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler

Jared Harris as Professor James Moriarty

Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes

Paul Anderson as Colonel Sebastian Moran

Kelly Reilly as Mary Watson

Geraldine James as Mrs. Hudson

Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade

©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.  Photo by Daniel Smith

Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Repace), Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Our reviews below:


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

When director Guy Ritchie released his thoroughly entertaining take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved Sherlock Holmes back in 2009, the film became a big holiday hit and left many fans eagerly awaiting the sequel.  With an even clearer focus on the story and several excellent scenes that lead up to an awesome finale, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the rare sequel that actually manages to be a touch better than the original.

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) face their most dangerous and baffling mystery yet when they are forced to confront the twisted brilliance of Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris).  Also joining them is the mysterious Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), a fortune-teller who might be intrinsically linked to Moriarty’s master plan.  Like a great game of chess, the two unique minds must outthink each other before they can make their next move.

The look of the film is moody and atmospheric, with the grey tones of Victorian England providing an added grittiness to the fight scenes.  Filled with effective twists and turns, the script is consistently good.  But the performances are what make the film especially entertaining.  Just as it was last time around, Robert Downey Jr. is excellent in the leading role, and he has a great chemistry with Jude Law.  The two bicker and often fight, but they have to get along to get things done.  Even though her character is a bit underused, Noomi Repace gives a good English-language performance after becoming famous for starring in the Swedish versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

There are some pacing problems with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, particularly in the first half, but the payoff is totally worth it.  I won’t give away the specifics, but the last act is exhilarating, particularly a brilliantly written sequence where we learn exactly how Sherlock Holmes solved the case.  The action is kinetic and brilliantly choreographed, often playing out slowly before smoothly coming together.  In one visually stunning sequence, they are pursued through the woods with the bullets firing in slow-motion and bark flying off the trees right towards the screen.

As it went along, I was actually surprised at just how much I found myself enjoying the film.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a piece of beautifully produced holiday entertainment, with a crackling mystery to solve and another great performance from Robert Downey Jr.  What more could you ask for on a cold winter night?


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows follows the first (2009) film fairly closely in terms of event timeline, but stands alone quite well on its own.  This time around, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is deep in solving a series of mysterious deaths and bombings that might not seem linked to the untrained eye, but all lead him directly to Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris).  Meanwhile, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is finally marrying Mary (Kelly Reilly), and it is on his honeymoon that Holmes shows up and sucks him back into another one of his cases, which leads to a lot of chaos as they chase the clues across Europe to find out the motive and target of the professor in order to stop him.

As always, the film is more than worth it for the acting from the leads (Downey Jr., Law, and this time around Harris).  Again Holmes and Watson’s banter and interactions with each other are spot on.  Unfortunately, some of the side characters don’t get nearly as much to do as they could have.  The cinematography, costumes, and art direction are well done, as are the edits, and the score by Hans Zimmer is fitting and fun.  The film is over two hours though, and possibly a little more editing in terms of length could have been done, although overall I didn’t mind it.

In some ways, I liked this one better than the first.  Although the action is still kinetic and dizzying at times, it is easy to follow and fits more as the story progresses.  The story is also clearer (if you can say that) here, or rather, it feels more relevant to follow – it was the script here that I liked more than the first one the most.  Holmes is even more manic this time around (as pointed out in the film by Watson), clearly energized by figuring out the mystery Moriarty has laid out before them.  Everything leads up to the climax – and the last 20 minutes provides the perfect exhilarating payoff to the film.  Moriarty is definitely one of the best antagonists to pit Holmes against, as they play their chess-like ‘game of shadows,’ both matched intelligence-wise.  The question is, who will ultimately play the other one in the end?  And how?

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the perfect mix of action, and a story that needs a bit of attention paid to it.  The whole thing makes for a fun film to see during the holiday season for those around 13+.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is back with his sidekick, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) in another fun adventure.  In A Game of Shadows, several well-known people including the Crown Prince of Austria have mysteriously died.  Holmes believes that the ingenious yet sociopathic Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) may be responsible.  So Holmes and Watson, along with a Romani fortune-teller (Noomi Repace) chase Moriarty on a mission to find out what he is trying to do.

I enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes film, and I liked A Game of Shadows just as much.  One thing I like about both films is the way that Sherlock Holmes is portrayed as someone on the autism spectrum.  His attention to visual details is much like Temple Grandin.  Both Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law play their characters really well.

The plotline is clever, easy to follow and quite engaging.  The screenwriting is sharp, the visuals are cool and the score by Hans Zimmer is a lot of fun.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is worth seeing.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

Who doesn’t love a good mystery?  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous literary detective Sherlock Holmes was the master of mystery solving.  Holmes is brought to life once again through another brilliant performance by Robert Downey Jr., directed by Guy Ritchie.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is an action-packed, often funny and always clever thriller that has Sherlock Holmes matching wits with his long time adversary, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).

The story is set in 19th century England with Holmes, and his crime solving partner, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) on an exciting and often dangerous pursuit of Professor Moriarty through England, France, Germany and Switzerland.  Their goal is to stop his evil plan to cause enough political unrest in Europe to trigger a war and profit from the weapons factories he has purchased.  Holmes and Moriarty are both intellectually matched and view their encounters as an elaborate game of chess.

What makes this movie so much fun to watch is the rapid fire dialogue and visual processing that comes from Sherlock Holmes’ unique mind.  The fast-paced cinematography works really well here as do the sequences that are shot in slow-motion to show details the way Holmes is perceiving them.  With Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law working together like a well-oiled machine, A Game of Shadows is a very entertaining film for Sherlock Holmes fans.  The rest of the cast is also excellent, with lots of good action sequences and clever twists and turns that make this a fun holiday movie for teens and adults.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a sequel to the 2009 film, again directed by Guy Ritchie with Robert Downey Jr. as the title character and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. This time the arch-villain is Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), bent on starting World War 1 after cornering the market on munitions and medical supplies. Working in the shadows through his right-hand man (Paul Anderson) with a gang of Roma anarchists, Moriarty has planned a series of strategic bombings and assassinations to achieve his goal, leaving no loose ends once his accomplices have served their purpose. Holmes enlists the support of his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and a Roma fortune teller (Noomi Rapace), and Watson reluctantly has to postpone his honeymoon as things heat up.

If you saw the original film you know what to expect–brilliant observation, disguise and deduction faithful to the period of 120 years ago but also lots of action–by analogy with Bond films, more Daniel Craig than Roger Moore. As before, some sequences are analyzed in slow motion either before or after the fact so we can appreciate their detail, with one battle scene actually shown in slow- and stop-motion. Though a bit long at just over two hours, the story is easier to follow than last time, still with more than enough wit and twists to keep us interested.

The cast and production are all fine, and the use of music is particularly interesting. The Shubert lied Die Forelle (trout song) recurs as a symbol of the game between Holmes and Moriarty of who is catching whom, and the closing scene of Don Giovanni in the Paris Palais Garnier opera house makes good use of the stone Commendatore’s pedestal. Hans Zimmer’s eclectic score also includes Roma elements with cimbalom and other folk instruments, and a glass harmonica during suspenseful moments.

In summary, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is lots of fun, especially for the fans.


Consensus: With strong performances including another excellent turn from Robert Downey Jr. as the title detective, Guy Ritchie’s sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is an entertaining mystery filled with great dialogue and thrilling action sequences.  *** (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Matt Stewart permalink
    December 16, 2011 12:34 am

    Good to know i’m looking at good fun, we all need it sometimes!

    Awesome blog, I love the whole idea of five views, very original!


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