Check out my review of the first movie here. As you can tell this is the sequel to the very successful Sherlock Holmes from 2008 directed by Guy Ritchie. As with all successful series you just had to have a sequel. In the case of the first Sherlock Holmes, all the references to the mysterious player in the shadows seemingly orchestrating all the moves from behind the scenes, you knew that there had to be a confrontation between Holmes and the “Napoleon of Crimes” (not that I really knew what this meant) Professor Moriarty.
The next installment finds all the original cast of character intact with Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, Jude Law as Dr. Watson and Rachael McAdams as Holmes’ on again/off again love interest, Irene Adler. As plots go, this one is pretty thin. Basically Moriarty wants to set off World War I a bit earlier than history suggests. The movie takes place in 1891. Obviously, as this isn’t some alternative universe; the War eventually happens in 1914, so I am not really sure if this really was a win for Holmes. The movie plays out like one of the National Treasure movies. While symbol and history aren’t involved in the same way, you still have the various large set pieces throughout the world, lots of chase scenes, super dramatic music (almost Pirates of the Caribbeanesque) and a certain level of wackiness that might have crossed the line into annoying rather than entertaining. Add in the whole Watson and Holmes interactions which I already documented in my last review and you have something a bit less than the original.
I do have to say that I can’t imagine what the Gay and lesbian organizations think of the movie. Are they proud that such a relationship is in the forefront of a major feature film? Or does their brazen way of hiding it with “wives” and “romantic interest” set the whole movement back a couple of years? While I know this was not the intentions of Guy Ritchie, you have to think that they were aware of it and trying to have fun with the whole situation.
Example 1: Sherlock Holmes in bad drag and ultimately topless asks Watson to lie with him after previously wrestling with each other in full straddle.
Example 2: Sherlock throwing Watson’s wife from train.
Example 3: Watson and Holmes share a dance together during a ball.
All I can say is good for them; it takes some incredibly brave people to do all that in the 1800’s.
In all seriousness, the most disappointing thing was the lack of development of Holmes. In A Game of Shadows he plays almost like some comical superhero, flying around this way and that but without much depth or back-story. In the movie, we see Holmes experience a major loss and it seems like he just shrugs it off and continues on with the adventure. Just as disappointing was the continual underuse of his genius and deductive skills, while he seems to have grown even more crazy and eccentric from the last film, I still regard him as no more impressive than a regular episode of Monk or Psych.
Overall, the movie still works in the sense of action packed movie, unfortunately, it suffers from the fact that it is a sequel to a superiour film and just doesn’t seem to movie all the characters forward. I recently read that the producer and director created the movie as a standalone film, and could be watched by itself without prior knowledge from the first. While I slightly disagree with this fact, it makes a bit a sense. If you watched the first and A Game of Shadows consecutively you see too many of the flaws in the second one. This is great for people who haven’t seen the first movie, they will get an exciting and action packed show. For the rest of us (mostly everyone who is probably going to see the film) things might not be as rosy the second time.