Professor Moriarty is described at one point as "a Professor at Oxford University." But when Holmes accepts an invitation to visit Moriarty following Dr. Watson's wedding, the lead in shot shows King's College at Cambridge University. See more »
Dr. John Watson:
The year was 1891. Storm clouds were brewing over Europe. France and Germany were at each other's throats, the result of a series of bombings. Some said it was the Nationalists. Others, the anarchists. But as usual, my friend Sherlock Holmes, had a different theory entirely.
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SPOILER: The closing title "THE END" appears as part of Dr. Watson's manuscript; Holmes corrects the manuscript to make it "THE END?" See more »
Professor Moriarty: Are you sure you want to play this game? Sherlock Holmes: I'm afraid you'd lose.
In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, my mind turns two ways: The first half is guns, gunpowder, and gymnastics. Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) contend with the salvation of civilization mostly through athletics, aided by director Guy Ritchie's considerable skill with the camera and graphics.
But in the second half, when the duo moves swiftly but intellectually to confront the arch villain Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris), my mind is at equilibrium, renewing my love of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original brainy, eccentric sleuth. The chess game is a marvel of strategy, replete with revenge, intrigue, and just plain ingenuity. Director Guy Ritchie's visuals include delightful Downey disguises and lively speed ramping in a forest bombarded by bullets. Hans Zimmer's music leans heavily on the fiddle to lighten the load of a difficult plot.
Watson's marriage, rather than taking away from the bromance, adds unexpected color and creativity. So Ritchie has ramped up the intellectual content and at least balanced it with the athletic, which was a strength of his 2009 version, Sherlock Holmes. With Inspector Lastrade just a memory and Holmes's love, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), appearing briefly, we are left to enjoy not so much the interaction of Holmes and Watson but the explosiveness of Holmes and Moriarty.
After a first half of explosions, the second half satisfies traditionalists like me for the chess game of life and deathand that's the suspenseful fate of the world in those pieces. Director Guy Ritchie has improved on his 2009 version.
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