Another review previously published in the paper.
Though I am no Conan Doyle scholar, I’m going to assume he would have been content with Guy Ritchie’s further interpretation of his Sherlock Holmes series. In the second installment of the movie series, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, we find Holmes (Roberty Downey Jr.) and Watson (Jude Law) facing the classic villain; Professor Moriarty.
The first 15 minutes of the movie were a let down, especially when compared to the first movie’s action-packed opening. As much as we all enjoy watching Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) walk around with a parcel, I didn’t really care for her. The stories are about Holmes and his detective work, not his love interests. I did appreciate that the first fight scene quickly followed her exit and harkened back to the style of the first movie by doing the play-by-play occurring in Holmes’ mind. This style was used more consistently in this movie than the first, which I thought was a vast improvement in consistency. Later on it’s used effectively when Moriarty and Holmes match wits and somehow enter each other’s mental playbook.
The plot does the title justice as the detecting duo chase the shadowy specter of Moriarty through different locales. The fast-paced country hoping wasn’t distracting from the political mysteries going on. It was fantastic to see the dynamic duo fighting uniforms on a train, taking a wagon through the French countryside and even riding horses across the border. There’s a spectacular bit that pokes fun of Holmes’ fear of horses. I won’t ruin it because it’s pretty damn amusing.
One of the best parts of this movie was the blatant bromance between Holmes and Watson. The tension between them seems to have only escalated with the marriage of Watson and his Mary. There’s are some particularly homoerotic moments in a train car that will be forever cemented in my mind.
I have to give the movie credit for including just the right amount of comedy. I think part of the appeal of the series is its ability to perfectly balance the high action with subtle breaks for humor. Along with the humor I have to give Ritchie credit for being more clear about Holmes’ substance use. In the first film there’s a vague reference to opium, but in this film we see him chugging embalming fluids.
All sequels face the issue of being compared to its predecessor. In this case I have to say I was a bit disappointed, but I probably had exceedingly high expectations for this film, so I can let some of the flaws slide.
It felt to me that the complex storyline was put in place to make it compensate for lack of action, but there seemed to be plenty of thrilling fight sequences. I would have been content with a less detailed plot, but I get that Moriarty’s presence would require a maze-like plot.
Check it out if you are down for a good-ole mystery and some man-love.