Warning! May Contain Spoilers!
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So I did see the first of these movies but the review for that is lost to the depths of my broken monster of an old computer.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is the second installment in what I can only assume will be an ongoing series of movies about the famous London-based consulting detective for Scotland Yard. In this movie, Sherlock is focused on trying to take down the shadowy bad guy from the first movie: Professor Moriarty. He is accompanied (reluctantly) by John Watson, who is supposed to be on his honeymoon but Moriarty tries to have him killed and so he’s dragged along on the ride.
That’s the overarching plot anyway. There’s a couple other minute things in there, as Sherlock likes to play games and so does Moriarty. It gets a shade confusing at times, and you don’t really see some of the things Sherlock sees but then again, you’re not really supposed to and they do a good job of trying to distract you from that stuff. You have less of those slowed-down glimpses into Sherlock’s mind than the first one, as cool as they are, but you don’t have any less of a puzzle or any less action than the first.
Sherlock is played by Robert Downey Jr. of Iron Man fame and his portrayal of Holmes is about like his portrayal of Tony Stark. He takes the crazy, crass route as opposed to dignified genius. He’s eccentric beyond what is called for, which drives Watson crazy in turn. But he’s lovable despite that. His eccentricities endear you to him and make for some amusing dialogue.
Watson is played by Jude Law and he’s like the yin to Holmes’ yang, if you will. He’s sensible and rational. He favors stuff that doesn’t try to get him killed. He wants to be normal, to be a family doctor who’s married with kids of his own. He tries to have a normal engagement, to have a normal marriage, to have a normal honeymoon and it always seems like Holmes’ adventures are fucking it up.
Those two are the main characters and the ones you care the most about. There are other really good side characters. Rachel McAdams plays Irene Adler again, one of Holmes’ enemies and the woman he is deeply in love with. It was nice seeing her again, for a brief period of time. She’s a good bad guy, if that makes any sense. She provides the real leverage for Holmes’ going after Moriarty. Kelly Reilly (who I know from the Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightly) plays the very adorable wife of Watson. She’s just as sensible as him but she’s got a bit of Holmes’ cocky attitude. And Stephen Fry makes an appearance as Sherlock’s brother, which is absolutely hilarious because it’s like looking at another version of Sherlock himself. Noomi Rapace (from the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) plays the only other mostly main character, a gypsy fortune teller by the name of Simza. I appreciated her as a character because she was driven by the love of family and because she didn’t take shit from anyone.
The film is adventurous and exciting and mysterious all at once. And I’m a cynic when it comes to movies. I know that when a main character gets killed, that character isn’t really dead (despite that fact, I will get emotional during the movie.) But this one did have me going for a while. Like, it worked really hard for it. So atmosphere-wise, this movie does a good job. There’s lots of action/adventure with shooting and explosions and all sorts of really good stuff in that vein to keep you entertained. And it’s exciting as well. It doesn’t just give you explosions, it makes the explosions and the fights build up climatically so that you’re on the edge of your seat watching them. And it’s always fun to watch the way Holmes unravels each mystery and how everything all twines together. Altogether, it does a good job.
As for the minor details (setting, costume design and soundtrack) I found no big flaws in the movie. The costumes are awesome, the setting seems authentic enough and the music fit the movie. I found no big editing flaws either, not like some movies or recent TV shows. Everything looked authentic enough.
Final Thoughts: This is definitely a good sequel movie. It didn’t flop the way a lot of them do. However, I’m still not sure it’s necessarily better than the original. It definitely lives up to the original though. I’d give it a 4 or a 4.5 out of 5 stars.