‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ DVD Review

Director: Guy Ritchie

Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris

Plot: When Sherlock Holmes continues following the trail of crime back to Professor James Moriarty he gets more than he expected when the crime lord turns all of his attention onto the consulting detective and his sidekick Dr. John Watson.

Review: The original Sherlock Holmes movie put together by this cast and director was good, but not great. The cast had great chemistry, the film had cool style and while the story stuttered it promised that something better was around the corner. The sly introduction of Moriarty, Sherlock’s famous nemesis, set things up nicely and it felt as though we just needed to sit back and wait for the magic to happen.

Given the extent of the Holmes canon the film-makers have a huge wealth of source material to use in constructing a story. Yet for reasons unknown they chose to ignore all that and instead borrow the story from the film adaptation of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen of all fucking things. Seriously – a group sometimes disguised as German soldiers blow stuff up around London pushing the two nations towards war, and the group is packing advanced explosives and automatic weaponry. Oh, and the mastermind behind the scheme is Moriarty. How did this happen? The story was crap then and it’s worse now because there are dozens upon dozens of great Holmes stories to draw upon instead of this dross. Given that the plot already as enough to chew on, what with all the gypsies and whatnot, it’s astounding how plodding the movie feels at times.

In this scene he stops for a smoke break. That’s the scene.

Since they’re not really using the original source material they may have dropped the pretense of being based on Conan Doyle’s works and renamed the movie The Wacky Adventures of Robert Downey Jr. and Pals. It’s great in the first movie where they play fast and loose with the source material, making it more interesting for a modern viewer, but there’s next to nothing in this movie that ties any of the characters to their literacy counterparts. Sherlock is more concerned with wearing crazy disguises than solving crime via deduction, Moriarty is a scheming crackpot ans Watson is a clucking nanny. It’s jarring just how modernised the whole thing feels with terrorist attacks, arms races and the like – almost as though the whole movie takes place in a parallel universe where technology and fashion were time locked in the 1890s.

This is as witty as the movie gets.

The aspects of the first film that lead to its success have dried up. The banter between Holmes and Watson has been replaced by a forced bromance and created situations that might be misconstrued as gay. Oh look, they’ve been caught all wrapped up in each others arms while one of them is wearing a dress, how awkward. Goodness they’re dancing together, and in public. The humour is forced and almost every gag falls flat. The other gimmick – an insight into Holmes thought process – fails completely this time around. Instead of hearing Holmes note an opponents weakness after making observations it’s just him explaining where he’s going to punch someone, then when he does go into action his plan doesn’t work (yes, every time). That sleight of hand may have worked once, but not three times.

When he pulls the stunt with Moriarty it’s even more stupid because they BOTH start trying to out-do each other by plotting the fight in their heads. Yes, it comes down to Holmes and Moriarty having a psychic battle. There are zero new ideas in this sequel just extra bits glued onto previous concepts.

Credit where credit is due of course – the performances and action are both strong points for the film. It really is the Wacky Robert Downey Jr. show and that is something that is enough to carry a film for you then you won’t be disappointed…just pretend it wasn’t supposed to be about Sherlock Holmes. New additions Noomi ‘Girl Who Has Dragon Tattoo’ Rapace as a gypsy and Stephen Fry as Mycroft are both talented actors who are a ton of fun to watch. When the action set pieces do kick into gear it is the most entertaining parts of the movie. Sherlock chasing down a Cossack assassin is a nicely choreographed piece and the chase through the forest showcases some of the best recent use of bullet time.

Eyes up front Jude.

If you’re looking for a cool action film there are much better ones on the shelf. If you want a modern take on Sherlock Holmes then word on the street is that the BBC version is the best thing on television ever. So watch that.

Score: THREE outta TEN