Howdy ladies and gentlemen, in this blog post I’m going to give you my review of the second Sherlock Holmes film from Guy Richie; Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
So the story of the film is an easy one to follow, basically we have Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson having to join forces again to take down their most calculating adversary, Professor Moriarty. The story in this film for me is a lot interesting than the first film because the characters in this sequel the characters are much more interesting and involved in the plot than before. Even some of the secondary cast lend themselves to the story in a great way. There is also a greater sense of danger and urgency in this film then there was in the last film and that is something I always love in sequels; having greater stakes and a deeper story for the audience to get invested in. It has been argued by some that the story is a lot further from the original source material and because of that the film has faults with the story and its characters. Overall I thought this story was pretty impressive, although I wish the writers had dived a little deeper into the darker areas of the film which would have made the characters and plot a lot better. But for the most part Sherlock Holmes 2 has a great story worth telling.
When it comes to the characters Robert Downey, Jr. as always is just incredible as Holmes, he is funny, complicated and a very strange man, but he does have a brilliant mind and the way in which he figures things out is nothing short of astounding. Holmes is also very similar to how he was in the first film, but I think this film takes him into deeper emotional territory than the before. At first I thought Holmes was an invincible smart man who couldn’t be touched but this film shows he can be hurt, physically and mentally and even the great Sherlock Holmes can get things wrong sometimes and I really liked that. When it comes to Watson, Jude Law is simply wonderful, he is the stern, yet fair friend of Holmes who brings his own level of smarts, wit and charm to the film. Even as he gets married and his life changes with his new wife we see that he still is the same man he was in the first film and like Holmes he goes though some emotional episodes that makes Watson all the better for it. Together throughout the journey of this film Holmes and Watson find that they need each other, that their bond extends further than just their journeys together, that for all the dysfunctional aspects of their relationship and all the problems that Holmes usually causes Watson in the end they really do need each other and it’s that bond that is one of the most powerful aspects of the film.
The other powerful character that completes the film is Jared Harris as Moriarty, as the antagonist he gives a much more memorable performance than Mark Strong’s villain in the last film. Unlike Strong’s character, Harris’ actually has a presence. Moriarty is one of those sort of villains that doesn’t act like one out in the open and operates behind the shadows while having a very different persona to the public as a cover. And as charming as he is, when his calculating villainy side comes out and his cruel side becomes apparent you realise he’s a force to be dealt with. He’s definitely not the type of guy you’d want to meet in a back alley at night. And the way in which Moriarty and Holmes interact is just incredible, they’re both incredibly smart and are constantly trying to outwit each other. Also Noomi Rapace is good as Simza, though I believe her character was incredibly underused and wasn’t in the film as much as I thought she’d be which was disappointing, but for what she did contribute to the film it was pretty good. The same can be said for Rachel McAdams and Kelly Reilly who reprise their roles as Irene Adler and Mary Morstan/Watson. And lastly but by no means least a special mention has to be given to Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, he was just incredible in the film, he was witty, funny and just larger than life, he had much more of a role than I thought he would, but every scene he was in he was very memorable. As usual Stephen Fry delivers.
Now when it comes to the action sequences this film does not disappoint. From the fights, to the chase sequences and everything in-between everything is on a much higher level than before. Everything is on a much bigger and better scale than the last film; Holmes’ fights are even more interestingly choreographed than before, the gun fights are on a better scale and with all of the different locations in the film all of them introduce interesting scenarios and scenes of thrills, tension and adventure. And like the previous film Hans Zimmer returns to compose the soundtrack and it’s just a good as it was in the previous film, possibly better due to the darker nature of this film. Either way Hans Zimmer continues to be invincible and cannot do any wrong.
Overall Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a great follow-up to the first film and in a lot of ways is much better than its predecessor. The pacing is a lot better and with a much deeper plot, good character development, a much better villain and incredible action sequences this is definitely a film worth checking out. Director Guy Ritchie and his filmmaking team have taken what has worked in the first film and re-applied it in this film on a much bigger scale and I feel they should be commended for it. A lot of film critics and audience members have given this film bad reviews stating that it’s not as good as the original or stating that the film doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from the first film. And while some of that may be true and there were issues and elements that this sequel didn’t fully commit to, overall the film isn’t nearly as bad as many people make it out to be. It is a well-made film with action, story and its fairly intelligent too. It’s not perfect but I still enjoyed it immensely and will probably be seeing again very soon.