Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , |

Hooray for Christmas holidays! My long absence from the cinema has finally come to an end, and what a film to do it with.

It’s no secret that I loved the last Sherlock film, In fact, I was so emphatic about it that Ross suggested I might be working for their promo department.  So I’ve been excited about the sequel ever since I discovered they were filming it down the road from my flat.  With all the positive feedback from the first film, it had a lot to live up to, and as RDJ said himself “sequels usually suck,” so this film really needed to deliver. Luckily it does.

Game of Shadows has everything we want from this franchise.  Great one liner humour combined with some more slapstick comedy, a convoluted plot with enough clues for the audience to think they’re on the brink of solving it before we realise we’re nowhere near as clever as Holmes, and a fantastic Victorian bromance between Holmes and Watson.

The chemistry between Jude Law and RDJ was what made the first film so wonderful, and in this film they’ve managed to build on it without overplaying it. There are some lovely moments, both humourous and more serious, which add heart to the storyline.

As for the supporting cast; Noomi Rapace is good as Sim and Stephen Fry does a good turn as Mycroft, although it’s hard to see him as anything other than Stephen Fry.   After all the furore over who would play Moriarty following the first film, and the melodramatic secrecy with which they hid the actors face both in the first film and during initial work on the second, it could almost be a let down that Jared Harris is revealed with fairly little ceremony (and that he isn’t a big name Hollywood superstar).  I’ll admit when I heard who was playing the infamous Napoleon of crime I was a little disappointed because I was expecting something different, but Harris earns his place in the movie and is a good foil for Holmes.

On to the story.  The plot is at times hard to follow, and about three quarters of the way through I did find myself trying to make sense of which diplomat did what to whom and why this was a bad thing.  Pretty much everything is explained by the end though, and a second watch coupled with a bit more post game dissection with my sister should tie up any loose ends.  The action comes thick and fast, as we would expect from Guy Richie, and there are some awesome set pieces.  Anyone who has seen the trailer has seen most of the train scene, but for me the chase through the woods is a fantastic piece of cinema.  The use of slow motion is clever and adds just the right emphasis to certain moments, making it a real edge of the seat sequence.  The final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty is brilliantly executed too, playing with the Holmes voiceover device to turn the fight in to a proper meeting of minds.

The story is basically the same as LXG (for those who’ve seen it, and no, I’m not going to start that debate again) but obviously with a bit more work gone in to it, and based on one of Conan Doyle’s more notorious books.  Despite not having read the book (surprise surprise) I did know where we were heading and so I was really happy with how the ending was handled.  I’m not going to spoil anything, but the last scene definitely drew a gasp from me and those around me, and was the perfect way to bring as neat a close as possible to a necessarily open ending.

Finally a few words on music. I love the score to Holmes; it conjures up Victorian London brilliantly.  Hans Zimmer can basically do no wrong, but he manages to get a great balance between a period feel and a punchy accompaniment to the on screen energy.  The nods to Don Giovanni are also a nice little in joke for musos.

I probably don’t need to do much work to convince you to go out and see this film.  It’s a great pre-Christmas movie and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.  Roll on Sherlock 3.

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