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“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” – Review (POSITIVE)

December 16, 2011

Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes, like I previously said in my review of the first film, the movie wouldn’t work unless it was for the casting of Mr. Downey Jr. The sequel, “A Game of Shadows”, finds a way to improve itself over its predecessor, the casting is still pitch perfect, but the style of the story has changed, and for the better I think.

While the first film focused on in black magic, or fooling people into believing in it, this films approach is to bluntly show us how World Wars could start.  While all in the hands of a powerful intellect that matches the brains of Mr. Holmes, perhaps even more so.

Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large-Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). Not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but also his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective.

When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, results to heart attack, but Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder when he finds a poison dart lodged in the Princes neck. Murder that is only one piece of a larger puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes as he spins a web of death and destruction-all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history. Where nations will begin to fear one another, leading to the inevitable possibility of World War. Joining Holmes, and his sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law), is a gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace), who’s brother is connected to Moriarty’s plans.

Personally, I like the direction this movie was going. The multilayered plot to start a World War just seems to work better than Lord Blackwood causing chaos, by making people believe in black magic. The multilayered plot is no understatement, there’s a lot going on in this movie. Much like the spider-web of connections leading to Moriarty, in which Holmes creates within the movie, this film has much to throw at us. For some, you might be thrown off by the third Act, but lucky for us, Holmes recaps the events we’ve just witnessed and in a way simplifies it so we can play catch up. It’s all in good fun, I assure you.

The film also introduces us to Sherlock Holmes smarter brother, Mycroft Holmes, played brilliantly by renowned British actor Stephen Fry. Mycroft has his moments of stealing the spotlight from his brother, or should I say Downey Jr. Honestly, Fry was a joy to watch on screen. The character of Mycroft is supposed to be much like his brother Sherlock, just a tad zanier, one scene will grab the audience attention in the middle of the film that I promise. Jared Harris was a perfect casting choice to play the archenemy of Holmes. His scenes with Downey are palpable, their characters wits and intellect battle one another quite briskly. The final battle is certainly a high point for their characters.

Many of the cool quips that made the first movie fun are present here again; Holmes vision for one is always a blast, yet this time I think Guy Ritchie wanted amp up the speed. The use of high-speed photography is always a great tool to create masterful suspense; the scene in the forest will leave people on the edge of their seats. The movie may tend to fall into a bit lunacy, perhaps too much for it’s own good, but in the end it’s the cast that maintains the sheer enjoyment this movie throws at you. You can’t go wrong with Jude Law & RDJ’s chemistry, the bromance has been kicked into high gear here.

May I add, with minor spoilers, for those who’re advid readers in the original “Holmes” books by Sir, Author Conan Doyle, the ineluctable demise of our villain, Moriarty, well…lets just say the movie respects the books quite well. Fans should be most pleased how everything conspires between one of the greatest literary heroes meeting his greatest literary foe of all time.

GRADE: B+

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