We review Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – The game is afoot

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Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes was a movie that should not have worked. A director made famous by English ensemble cast gangster movies, coupled with Robert Downey Jr – an actor that just a few years prior had been more known for his public meltdowns than his acting acumen – and Jude Law – about as painfully average a leading a man as England has ever produced – to do an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian super sleuth.Uggs Black Friday Deals
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Elementary, it certainly was not.

But Richie’s vision turned tradition on its ear. Gone was the cold and detached Sherlock popularized by earlier incarnations, and in his place was Downey’s manic pugilist with a tongue eclipsed in sharpness by only that of his mind. By using his trademark super slow motion cinematography, Richie gave the film an unique visual hook as he highlighted Holmes’ heightened mental acumen, as it was used to not only make amazing leaps of deduction but to also systematically dismantle opponents in combat before they’ve even thrown their first punch.
It was a thrill a minute, simply oozed style and wit in every frame, and by coupling the eccentric detective with Jude Law’s perfectly cast straight-laced, military “old boy” Doctor Watson, had on screen chemistry to die for.http://goo.gl/280fwt

Now you may be wondering why I am only talking about the first movie thus far, when this is supposed to be review of its sequel? Well, to put it quite bluntly, for the most part A Game of Shadows is simply just more of the same. But don’t break out the pitchforks and torches quite yet, because as the expression goes, “Why reinvent the wheel?”

The film picks up shortly after its predecessor left off, with Holmes on the track of his recently discovered nemesis, Professor James Moriarty, played to chilling perfection by Jared Harris – son of the late, great Richard Harris. Harris imbues the character with a quiet and intelligent malevolence; a sort of Victorian age Hannibal Lecter. And like the infamous Doctor, he always seems to be just a few minutes removed from a scene of great calculated bloodshed.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace, plays Madame Simza Heron, a gypsy who may unknowingly possess information about Moriarty’s grand plan. After her gut wrenching performances in the Millenium trilogy, Rapace coasts through this role, but that’s no fault of hers as the character simply serves as a plot device for Holmes in his quest to stop Moriarty’s actions.http://goo.gl/vf5WJQ

And it’s through Moriarty’s machinations that Holmes and the recently married Watson’s relationship is put through the proverbial wringer. Watson’s new wife is dragged into the sordid affair, placing him at a crossroads of showing loyalty to his friend or to his wife.

But this character introspection is brief and barely slows down the film’s blistering pace, as we move from the bustling, thug filled streets of London, to a crazy shootout on a speeding countryside train, an impromptu battlefield outside a munitions plant in Germany (where Richie makes the best use of camera speed ramping since Zack Snyder’s 300) and eventually on to the inevitable confrontation at that infamous (well, at least to Holmes fans) waterfall in Switzerland.

 

[SLIGHT SPOILER WARNING]And it’s this final showdown that for me was the highlight of the entire film: a tension filled chess game, simultaneously real and metaphorical, that pits these two titans of thought against each other in one of the most original and apt finales I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in ages.

If you enjoyed the first Sherlock Holmes, you will almost certainly love this one. Guy Ritchie and the writers had a winning formula with the original, and knew better than to fall into the trap of so many sequels out there, by tampering with it too much. Simply put, it’s exactly because it does not try to outdo its predecessor, that it does exactly that. A paradox, if I’ve ever seen one. And who better to solve a paradox than Sherlock Holmes, the greatest detective who ever lived?

Last Updated: January 3, 2012

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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