Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows


Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Fun adventure with classic characters
Cons: Story could be tighter.  A bit too much slow motion in some scenes
The Bottom Line:
Yes, there are some flaws
But adventure and humor
Overshadow them




"What Are We Doing Down Here?"  "*We* are Waiting.  *I* am Smoking."

The new take on the classic character of Sherlock Holmes from two years ago proved to be quite divisive.  Some fans of the original stories hated how much the character had changed.  Personally, I knew he was very different, but I loved the movie anyway.  So I was looking forward to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

As Dr. Watson (Jude Law) prepares for his wedding, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) has become obsessed with figuring out what Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) is up to so he can stop him.  This obsession leads him to almost botch Watson's stage night.

But when Moriarty turns things person for both men, they must reteam to figure out his end game and find a way to stop him.  As they follow the trail all overEurope, can they do it?

So those who complained about the first movie will pretty much find the same things here.  The movie is as much about the action scenes as it is the mystery, and it takes the same liberties with the characters.  Since I'm not attached to the cannon versions, I don't mind these changes in the slightest.

They seem to have upped the comedy factor this time around.  The friends I saw it with and I were laughing so hard at various parts of the film.  Yes, there were the more serious moments, and the movie certainly earns it's PG-13 rating from the violence, but it's a lot of fun along the way.

As a mystery, the plot is weaker than it could have been.  As one friend pointed out, the story feels unfocused for much of the first half.  The movie is still entertaining, but it's not really until the second half that it appears we're actually going somewhere with all the action.  Again, the climax does explain some bits of the story, and it logically falls into place, but it's not as tight as it could have been.

Most of the action scenes are great and lots of fun.  Occasionally, they go overboard with the slow motion.  There's one scene in particular that turns into a mess instead of being interesting to watch.  The special effects, on the other hand, are seamless and compliment the story.

The acting is uniformly great.  Once again, Kelly Reilly is grossly underused as Mary Watson.  Jude Law and Robert Downey, Jr. have the perfectly chemistry to pull off the relationship between their characters.  I truly buy their deep friendship.  I'm not a big Downey fan, but he is great as Holmes with the right amount of swagger and the occasional bits of vulnerability.  While I've focused on the stars and one supporting character, the rest of the cast is great as well.

The climatic scene between Holmes and Moriarty is a wonderful piece of storytelling and filmmaking.  Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil anything.  But all I could do is sit back in awe at how they'd pulled off the perfect scene.  The acting between Downey and Jared Harris was perfect.

Even though this movie has some flaws, I think I enjoyed it more than the first one.  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows once again takes liberties with the source materials, but it is lots of fun.

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