High on Enjoyment, Low on Detective Work: ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’


Sherlock Holmes is back on the case with the sequel to 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” reboot, once again starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and directed by Guy Ritchie.

Where the last movie showed Holmes’ skill to solve problems when facing the impossible with mind versus “magic,” this film has Holmes pitted against his equal, resolving the plot instigates by fellow genius Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Matching wits at every turn, Moriarty and Holmes (Downey Jr.) play the game of cat and mouse, of cloak and dagger, of good vs. evil.

It is 1891, and Europe teeters on the brink of world war. Businessmen and politicians are assassinated around the globe. Bombings of public places keep the locals in fear. Germany and France are set to start a war that will force every country to choose sides. But the one man who can prevent this is Sherlock Holmes.

Aided by his colleague, Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), Holmes sets off to save lives and prevent the collapse of Western Civilization. And the only thing standing in his way his Moriarty. But why is Moriarty involved? What has he to gain? And how can he be stopped? This holiday season I’m sure will belong to Sherlock Holmes at the box office as the public floods to see this much anticipated sequel.

I am no detective. I am not the kind of person who guesses the ending before the movie is over. It rarely happens to me. So when I say that I solved this case in about 20 minutes, you know that I don’t have to be especially gifted to be able to do that. While I am gifted, I don’t have to be to solve this case.

This case, The Game of Shadows, pits Sherlock against his arch nemesis, the baddest villain of all time, Professor Moriarty. When they alluded to Moriarty at the end of the last film, I was excited for the follow-up. Holmes vs. Moriarty is the best nemesis story. They are matched equally in intellect, yet one has his morals and the other does not. So my expectations were, admittedly, high. But with some of the deductions that Holmes made in this film, I would have been disappointed even if my expectations were low.
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At one point, Holmes sees a row of candlestick holders on a fireplace mantle. All of them are covered in cobwebs except one, which is clean. There is also fresh mortar cement on the floor beneath some new brick replacements. This is enough for me to think, “They built something behind there, maybe I should try the clean one.” But Holmes spends another minute or so doing zoom-ins on wine spilled from a congratulatory toast, blood from a worker who had scraped his hand and sand from the sandbag pulley that must be behind the door for a weight. This is all superfluous.     The whole time I kept thinking, “Scooby Doo would have pulled the clean candlestick holder by now.” It was moments like this that slow down the action and took the viewer out of the world of the disturbed genius detective.

The moments are there, but that is not enough to hurt the enjoyment of the film as a whole. There is still plenty of action, fighting and brilliant detective work that does keep the audience engaged. And even despite the predictability from early on, enjoyment is not sacrificed when watching it unfold. Not only the great acting from both Downey Jr. and Law, but the direction style by Ritchie is ever changing and keeps you guessing. Sometimes you only see part of a face, sometimes it was all in slow-mo. His shots are not stagnant, to say the least. Definitely a movie I would recommend. Rated PG-13, I give this movie 3 out of 5 stars.