‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ DVD Review
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.
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.
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.
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
I LOVED the first one and really liked this one as well.
I was really looking forward to seeing how this one would take the series further. Ended up taking several steps back.
I couldn’t get past the trailer to even see the movie; to me there is no way someone as cold and egotistical would cross dress for comedic effect that is just completely against his character. And to me it Downey is not playing the famous literary detective in these flicks he’s just seems to be playing Tony Stark with a British accent
Oh god, the disguises. Almost every freak’n scene he’s got some wacky disguise.
He always wears disguises in the books though!
I agree full-heartedly. I have never read the Sherlock Holmes series, but as a movie itself, this falls flat on so many levels. The first one really had a steampunky feel to it, and I think they tried to play that up in this movie in all the wrong ways. The whole arms race and cynical (you’ll have to excuse my spelling. I’m writing this review on my phone and thus, sadly, without spellcheck) approach to “weapons sellers being the sole creator of wars” feels rushed in and is, quite frankly, tiring. I am so sick of the “corporations are evil” angle. Isn’t Moriarty just supposed to be a really bad guy and Holmes’ intellectual equal? I feel like I have to quote RedLetterMedia here: “He’s just some guy in a suit. He is not Space Jesus.”
I really enjoyed the dialog between Downey Jr. and Law. I knew when I saw the first one that that kind of chemistry can only be captured onscreen once. That a sequel would only ruin it. And it did. One thing that I felt this movie severely lacked was grit. The fight scene in the first one was a great example. The sequel was just too…bright?
So again, I wholeheartedly agree that the sequel, albeit with a few good scenes (though the forest scene was toooo long), fell flat on all points. If you want a better interpretation, I’d say you can’t go wrong with “The Great Mouse Detective.” And BBC’s “Sherlock” is pretty amazing too.
Your review is hilarious. I literally snorted out loud at work! I haven’t seen this yet, but I may skip it based on your review.
Another soul saved!
If you liked the first, you’ll like this one too. If you’re really interested in seeing it don’t skip it because of one review!
Watch Game of Shadows for the “Iron Man plays detective” experience, (i.e. RDJ blows things up while some mysterious subplot goes on in the background). Watch BBC’s Sherlock for sheer awesomeness in such amounts it should be illegal for any TV show besides Doctor Who.
Pingback: A Game of Wits…and Style « cineblog