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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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The Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Silver Pictures logos, opening title, closing title and part of the closing credits appear in the pages of Dr. Watson's manuscript, with the latter two accompanied by illustrations of scenes from the film. See more »
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.
Thanks for reading my review on "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows". I do hope this review is useful.
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