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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan since pretty much forever. It all started the summer that I was fourteen, when I ripped through the entire series during the month-and-a-half long rainy period that I would have otherwise spent biking. What was at first just another series to occupy my time quickly became an obsession; I read all of the books and short stories, then moved on to watching the Granada adaptation with Jeremy Brett as Sherlock. After that, I was hooked.

 So, of course, when the first Guy Ritchie movie came out, I went to see it with some amount of trepidation. I had seen the trailers, and there was no way that this adaptation would be anything like the books, I argued. It wasn't, but I couldn't really summon up the inclination to be disappointed, because it had just been such fun.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows brings that same sense of fun to our theaters now, in late 2011, when so many of our movies have been lacking in it. It wasn't perfect, by a long shot, but its brilliant bits outweighed its flaws, and overall, I adored it for being the  thrilling, heartbreaking and hilarious romp that it was. It is certainly a notable contribution to the existing Sherlock Holmes canon, and worth a trip to the movie theater even if you'd rather curl up at home, far away from the post-holiday madness.



~  The dynamic between Holmes/RDJ and Watson/Law was perfectly done, a friendship/bromance on the edge of dissolution that just keeps pulling back together again. I particularly enjoyed the parallelisms between the wedding/hangover scene, when Holmes is truly trying, in his madcap way, to "take care" of Watson, and the later trainhopping scene, when Watson kicks into full on "Doctor" mode to do the same for Holmes. I'm a sucker for hurt/comfort, and both scenes made me "awww." The banter was also brilliant as always, and RDJ and Law crackled with enough chemistry to have carried the whole movie even if it had been terrible. Occasionally, it seemed as though Ritchie was trying to push the "homoromantic subtext" that threads its way through most SH adaptations into actual text (the train scene, complete with Holmes and Watson rolling around on cushions half dressed AND hooker eyeshadow, the very public dance scene, the constant "relationship-partnership" opinions expressed by both dudes), but all in all, I enjoyed their scenes together.

~  Noomi Rapace. As a hot gypsy fortuneteller with revolutionary tendencies and a certain trace of the kick-ass Girl With The Dragon Tattoo vibe. Need I say more?

~  The fight/deduction scenes, as always, were beautifully done. They accomplish the same thing that the BBC's Sherlock does with its subtitles and close ups, slowing it down just enough for us as an audience while also providing an interesting glimpse into the sensory overload that Holmes experiences, noticing everything and slowing it down to cope. And the one at the end with Moriarity and Holmes? Perfectly stunning. Two genii locked in the most excellent battle of minds and bodies.

~  This line:

       Simza: What do you see?

        Holmes: Everything. That is my curse.

~And last but not least—the cinematography was brilliant, and the visuals were definitely up to par with the first movie, if not better.

~(ETA: Real Last Thing: NAKED STEPHEN FRY.)



~  The beginning took too long and could have been easily been shortened. Namely, they did not need to include or kill Irene Adler, only to introduce Simza as their female lead.  

~  Occasionally, the plot meandered quite a bit, jumping frenetically back and forth between subjects, which led to quite a few "WTF is happening here?" moments. I identified elements from a few different stories, particularly in the final Reichenbach sequences. I thought it worked, but only barely; I will actually need a rewatch to determine whether or not the plot was more or less coherent than I remember.


Summary: Excellent cinematography, a few really wonderful scenes, great cast, great dynamic between Law!Watson and DowneyJr!Holmes. Beginning was a bit too long, plot a little too frenetic, but certainly entertaining.


Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2011 07:08 am (UTC)
I didn't read the entire post because I haven't seen the movie yet, but I was just curious as to whether you've seen the recent BBC show Sherlock. If not, you should definitely give it a try. (It came out last year, but I just watched it this month. I may be a bit obsessed. :P)
Dec. 30th, 2011 02:57 am (UTC)
I adore BBC!Sherlock! I love that it incorporates so any storylines from the books/stories, while at the same time being a lovely update to the canon.
Jan. 20th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
Here are my thoughts
Thanks for joining my site as a follower. This is what I thought of A Game of Shadows. I don't think it's quite as good as 4.5 stars, but agree it's enjoyable.


Edited at 2012-01-20 01:51 pm (UTC)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )