Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) Poster

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What a relief! The trailers lied--it was awesome. :)
dottyjyoung16 December 2011
We just got back from the earliest showing we could get a sitter for. I can say with confidence that my fears about this movie were totally unfounded, and I now hold Guy Ritchie and these writers in the highest regard. Without going into spoilers, here are the three concerns that were put entirely to rest: 1) After seeing the trailer, my biggest worry was the use of "bullet-time" type photography during a Victorian-era movie. I thought it would be completely anachronistic and pointless. However, they'd already established in this movie and the previous one that Holmes is hyper-aware of his surroundings. The bullet-time was used to convey how traumatic a couple of scenes were to someone with that type of awareness, and it worked beautifully.

2) Jared Harris looked so vanilla and soft in the promo pics and trailers that I couldn't imagine him as a fearsome adversary for Holmes. However, his Moriarty is so devious and cunning, and at one time downright sadistic, that I don't think they could have made a better choice. A couple of times I felt like he was channeling his father (the outstanding Richard Harris) without the warmth and empathy that the late actor conveyed. Can you imagine Richard Harris as a cunning, calculating perfectionist that's totally devoid of concern for human life? You won't have to after watching his son. It's freaky. And he sings.

3) Holmes' relationship with Watson (and in a small way, Irene Adler) is fantastically developed. Saying any more than that would be too spoilery.

So, watching this w/ my husband(who is a die-hard Sherlock fan, and used to read Sherlock Holmes aloud to me every rainy night, complete w/ voices) was a fabulous experience. We can't wait to see it again, and own it.
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Elementary Holmes
jdesando16 December 2011
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 death—and that's the suspenseful fate of the world in those pieces. Director Guy Ritchie has improved on his 2009 version.
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Typically ruined by Hollywood
Ed Shmed22 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I will say all the good things first, then I can rant. This film was visually stunning. It was also pretty well acted especially by Jude Law, although he is obviously too young to be Watson. Robert Downey Jr. is also pretty good and his natural charm makes me want to like his character. I also quite enjoyed Stephen Fry's part as Mycroft, it was a nice surprise. I'm a little dubious about the casting of Moriarty, but he wasn't awful I guess. In fact I feel that the same actors with a different director and script would have made this film top-class.

OK now the bad bits. It is trying to be FAR too cool for it's own good. And you know what happens when people try to be cool - they come off as posers and losers. I'm all for a bit of action, and yet this film just ruins Holmes by making him a martial artist, super slow mo, extra cool, thug. Holmes could box and he was a cane fighter. Why not just put that in??? It would have been great.

Another major gripe is the complete lack of any real deduction, questioning or intelligence. I know, let's just make him dress in about 4 different silly outfits and every now and then he can jump to some conclusions! Then the final nail in the coffin was the over-the-top story which reminded me of the absurdity of 'the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'. I'm all for suspending belief in a plot line, but there is a limit and I reached it about half way through this film.

If you want a decent modern take on Sherlock Holmes I highly recommend 'Sherlock' the BBC series. The setting is modern, but the acting and characterisation are just the right temperament to transcend the classic stories into a modern setting. It depends how much of a Holmes puritan you are! For many, Jeremy Brett IS Holmes simple as that.
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Better than the first one
picklechann16 December 2011
This movie was absolutely fantastic. I have been waiting for it for what feels like forever now and it truly did not disappoint. The storyline was clever, the dynamic between Watson and Holmes was charming and beautiful, and the effects were incredible. Honestly, as much of a fan I am of the first movie, its sequel surpassed it and my overall expectation. Some the effects were unnecessary at times, but I really enjoy the style in which these movies are edited. It can be slightly confusing periodically, another reason to rewatch, still pay attention closely. Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.'s chemistry was compelling and the supporting actors were on par. I laughed, I nearly screamed, and I even cried. Game of Shadows is gripping, exciting, hilarious,and even draws tears. You'll be cheering throughout and satisfied with the end. Too be honest, it is absolutely one of the best movies of this year.
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Very Disappointing
micksutton-128 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I lapped up Arthur Conan Doyle's works in my younger years and had recently begun re- reading them. However that is not to say that I am a Sherlock purist, far from it. I thoroughly enjoyed the BBC's recent take on Sherlock and am anxiously awaiting the beginning of the new series. Much the same can be said for Guy Ritchie's first exploit. I rated it as the best film of that year, enjoying the mix of the occult, to the back beat of Victorian London. Mark Strong portrayed a master villain who death and unease followed. There was then the balancing act that was Holmes and Watson. Jude Laws character being more than a blundering side kick and in some ways equal to Robert Downey Junior's Holmes.

Fast forward to two years later to this afternoon when I sat down in the cinema to watch A Game Of Shadows, full of hope, awaiting two hours of sterling entertainment, sadly I left somewhat disappointed to say the least.

All the negative reviews that I have read so far echo what I am about to write. If you are a small child looking for a film with multiple explosions and slow motion "bullet time" effects then you are in luck. However, if you are looking for a sequel that continues in the vein of the first film, regarding the worlds foremost detective, then you, like me, will be sadly disappointed. Gone is the ingenious Holmes analytical deduction, with a rich multi layered plot, only to be replaced with overly long fights sequences, more akin to Steven Seagal or John Claude Van Damme. The irony being that I am a keen martial artist and I was extremely impressed with the sequences in the first film. However, in the first film they were used sparingly, adding to the characters arsenal of brains and brawn, thus keeping the integrity of the film intact. Unfortunately this is not the case in this sequel. Holmes relying more upon his fighting prowess, as opposed to the art of deduction.

Characters on the periphery of the plot, such as Simza's Anarchist brother and the Anarchist leader are not seized upon and examined, leaving a thin plot, anorexic. But leads the way for a special effects 'fest' following our heroes through the forest, pursued by Moriaty's forces.

The only scene I did enjoy was the 'mano-a-mano' scene between Holmes and Moriarty towards the conclusion, however at the same time I found this frustrating as it was an insight into what A Game Of Shadows could (should.!) have been.

From the opening credits it was clear that this was going to be darker than its predecessor, especially when one the previous main characters is killed off. Although I liked the character, I was impressed by the bold move of the writers and was waiting for the emerging of a bold new character in Noomi Rapace's Simza. Unfortunately Simza is a one-dimensional character, who was easily forgotten and need not have even been there, save for the penultimate 'brother' scene in the film.

In Sherlock Holmes, Mark Strong gave a stellar performance as Lord Blackwood, the lead villain. However the seedling of Moriaty's character was always in the background, in some ways waiting to eclipse Blackwood as the "villain of all villains". Unfortunately Jared Harris's Moriaty fails to deliver on all counts. There is no presence and no conviction. A poor choice, with poor delivery. Another irony being the Mark Strong would have been one of the ideal candidates to play the character of Moriarty.

The domestic relationship between Holmes and Watson added to the charm of the first instalment and in my opinion Jude Law elevated Watson's character, however in this sequel, as some have already commented, it is bordering on homo erotic and as such the definition of the characters is lost. Doyle's original creation was fond of donning disguises to aid him in his investigations, however this is 'dialled up to eleven" in the sequel, resulting in the cringe worthy 'seat' disguise at the conclusion of the film.

All in all an extremely disappointing sequel to one of the best films I have seen in the last five years.
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NO disappointment in this sequel
Aak23 December 2011
Talking about sequels, more often than not, they are disappointment compared to the original. But this team has done again. They brought back the sequel with quality. I enjoyed this film as much as I did in the first part. The action, thrill, intelligence, all are placed perfectly in this film. The screenplay and making pattern is pretty much same as the first part and story moving in good pace. The main characters did a fantastic job once again. Holmes and Watson chemistry is perfect and delivered a great performance. Here I really like the way how the hero and villain play their games, both are very clever and the equality was very interesting. Simply, if you liked the first part, just go for this one. This is perfect entertainment and No disappointments.
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Honeymoon in Brighton? Not today.
Prince AJB24 December 2011
So what's been happening lately?

There has been a series of bombings and assassinations across Europe and if these activities continue, war will erupt and Europe will become a field of casualties and devastation. And our favorite detective Sherlock Holmes suspects Professor James Moriarty as the mastermind behind all these events.

Meanwhile, amidst the bombings and destruction which are ravaging Europe, Sherlock Holmes's partner, Dr. John Watson is finally getting married with his fiancée Mary. After being engaged in the first film, they are finally getting married and a short funny wedding scene has been reserved in the film. They're even going for a honeymoon in Brighton. Or they were supposed to go for a honeymoon.

The train the couple boarded was filled with Moriarty's henchmen and a loud, explosive battle ensues eliminating any hopes of an upcoming honeymoon. Even though Watson had been planning to retire from adventuring with Holmes after his wedding, he reluctantly becomes Holmes's partner one more time while his wife is taken care of by Holmes's brother, Mycroft. And the duo will receive an additional member to form a trio: the mysterious gypsy Madam Simza. Together, they try to stop Moriarty from continuing his cruel schemes and Holmes learns about Moriarty's plan to start a war in which he will personally benefit from.

There are lots of action scenes that keep the film exciting and keep the film running in a constant, fast pace. The action sequences are louder, much more explosive, and much more energetic than the ones present in the predecessor. They are very loud, operatic, and exuberant. But some of the battle sequences are surprisingly quiet, such as a simple chess game held between Holmes and Moriarty. While you think a chess game would be boring, Guy Ritchie filmed it as if it was a grand battle. The sounds, the atmosphere, and the dialog adds another layer of tension and makes the chess game scene more atmospheric.

Not only the action scenes, but the humor here is outstanding. Most of the jokes and humor come from the titular character himself. His bizarre behavior, regardless of his intelligence add a layer of comedy to the film. His trademark hobby, disguising into several unexpected people is just purely entertaining. If it weren't for Robert Downey Jr., the humor here would have collapsed and become a disaster.

And of course, the acting and performances by the cast were brilliant and outstanding. Robert Downey Jr. is just brilliant in portraying the titular detective. He is admirable and he is really a man of talent. Don't worry, Jude Law also plays the role of Dr. John Watson perfectly. Together, they form an excellent chemistry. Also worth mentioning is Noomi Rapace as the mysterious gypsy Madam Simza, who not too long ago played the role of Lisbeth Salander in the original version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". Stephen Fry plays the role of Mycroft Holmes to perfection.

I'd like to take some time discussing the character of Professor James Moriarty. He is a very compelling villain. His professional life as a criminal mastermind is hidden beneath his profession as a professor in the University of Cambridge. He is much more intelligent, much more cunning, and much deadlier than Lord Blackwood of the previous film. While Holmes seems to be a detective that can do no wrong in the previous film, here, he will make mistakes. Here, he will feel pain. Moriarty is just a very powerful villain and a very suitable opponent for Holmes. (And remember the slow-motion scenes where Holmes elaborates his fighting strategies in his mind, Moriarty can do it too.) And to further compliment this is the performance of Jared Harris. While he may not look suitable as an antagonist, he actually makes a perfect choice.

However, the film uses too much slow-mo effects. This is largely noticeable in one particular scene which has an extensive use of slow-motion. I know the effect is mainly used to make it look more stylish but there is certainly too much of them. Running at a duration of 129 minutes, it could have been shortened if some of the slow-mo effects have been removed.

Not only the slow-mo effects, but this film seems to have lost its trademark element of mystery that is present in the first film. Even though there are some mystery present here, they are not as mind- boggling as the ones present in the first film. In the first film, there are just so many questions that popped up and Holmes really has something to work on. But here, it's not mysterious. You know the full details immediately.

Nevertheless, "A Game of Shadows" is a pleasant experience and a whole lot more fun than the original film. Its operatic action scenes will entertain the audience and its comedic scenes will add a layer of laughter. With powerful performances from the cast, this film is one not to be missed in this movie season.

Final Verdict: "A Game of Shadows" is a stylish, fast-paced, yet comedic adventure which improves upon its predecessor in several aspects, and surely a highly recommended film.

Rating: 8/10

Thanks for reading my review on "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". I do hope this review is useful.
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A more action-packed Holmes
jdkraus16 December 2011
"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow" picks up where the prequel left off; Holmes is tracking down Professor Moriarty, a man he believes is responsible for a series of bombings and mysterious deaths around world. With the help of his pal Watson (off to be married soon), and a gang of gypsies, which includes The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace, set out on a game of cat-and-mouse to find the schemes of the sinister Professor.

Though there is an element of mystery in this film, it is not as in-depth as the first film. Rather the focus is on the action sequences and clever humor. This is not necessarily a bad thing though; in fact it helps move the plot along. The first film suffered because the story was slow. In this Holmes though, there is not one second that drags. The story itself is not special, but its pace is what counts. Walking out of the theater, I felt refreshed and glad that I saw this movie.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are once again a true treat to watch as Holmes and Watson. Their chemistry and interactions are perfect; it's easy to tell that both had fun with the script and with each other. Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty gives a solid performance, as a cold, manipulative, power hungry villain. Unlike Mark Strong in the first film, he is a believable antagonist. Noomi Rapace is a nice flavor as Madam Sim.

The set and costume designs are exquisite, bringing to life of what Europe was like in the late 1800s. I smell Oscar for these departments. The sound and editing is crisply done, and the music is top-notched—Hans, you're truly the best. The visual effects are mostly good, but some scenes were a bit over the top and borderline ridiculous. One of many examples include a woman being thrown from a fast moving train into a river, without sustaining injury or even dying. This is impossible. Then again, it's Hollywood. The filmmakers aren't doing their job if a sense of the ridiculous is not thrown into an action flick from time to time.

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow" delivers as a great, action-packed, and a rather humorous, popcorn loving flick. Note: the dog dies again.
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Style vs Substance
aharmas18 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Guy Ritchie has proved himself quite a stylish director. He has given us "Rock'n'Rolla" and the first of the Sherlock series before. Somehow, he has lost control of the material recently, and this is most obvious in the latest entry Holmes entry.

The film is a visual stunner, easily with "The Tree of Life" and "HP VII/ Part II", one of the best looking movies ever filmed. This film truly transports us back to the early days of the XX Century and makes us feel like we are really in the middle of the very polluted capitals of Europe, the exquisite photography immersing us in the world of shadows which was part of that society day and night. The film allows us to almost feel the torture of the upholstery, the lush velvet of the costumes, and the sumptuous decadence of the wealthy classes. Every aspect of the art direction should be recognized as the best of the best, and I wish the story would be allowed to reach those levels.

Doyle's Holmes and Watson are truly two of the most intelligent and fascinating characters in literature; as a pair, they might have no match, and Moriarty is the perfect villain, but the way these films treat the development of the story and the characters themselves is a shame, for Ritchie prefers to have slow motion takes to show bullets or flash editing to detract from the impact of a good action scene. He does redeem himself twice in the scenes with Moriarty and Holmes, but that is what makes the whole two hours truly frustrating because one yearns for more of what could have made the films great, and we get a lot of beautiful shots of violence and mayhem, but little of what truly matters.

This film takes us through the philosophical studies of what man's self destructive nature, and how evil geniuses profit from man's tragic disposition. As I mentioned before because of the film's truncated style, it is hard to truly appreciate the battle of the minds. It is a cat and mouse chase through some lovely scenery and it ends with the ultimate solution, the final solution, a chess move so diabolical, the audiences gasp, and in what could have an amazing cliffhanger, with a true open end, or not, depending on how carefully you have reviewed the clues along the way, Ritchie goes the easy away. Can we hear the audience papers results being read? Downey and Law do very well. Rapace is truly wasted, and it is hard to believe she gave the best performance of the year in 2010. In this film, we are in for easy laughs, little is explained as to why Holmes want to blend into the background or dress as a cheap slut. His mind is best asset but you couldn't tell from this film. You'll have a better time reading the short stories or checking out the old films. Now that would make sense.
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Lack of proper research?
kevin albufeira28 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I would guess that Sherlock is one of the characters that would interest the more intelligent film enthusiast. I also have seen the much more intelligent written series from the BBC(of which I am awaiting the next season), and they clearly mist it by a big one with this poor excuse of a Sherlock Holmes.

Aside to this, I think it's quite annoying to see a film that has not done it's research properly. For instance: The time in what this movie plays is around 1891, the luger pistol that they use wasn't invented until 1897. Germany wasn't really there yet as we see them talking about the whole time. The side that was near the border with France was Prussia. There is a moment they talk about coloured contact lenses, These did exist but covered your complete eye. Not very hard to detect I guess.

And how the hell can they shoot with artillery on them, when there is no one giving the coordinates? Come on Guy Richie, We all know you can make a much better film then this. This was an insult to intelligent people clearly! Please watch the BBC series before you shoot another one lad!
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