Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2012) – directed by Guy Ritchie

For the second time we went out for dinner and a movie in Howick. This time it was Thai and Sherlock Holmes on the menu. I’ll say from the outset that I’m a fan of the first Sherlock Holmes film. I found it an interesting take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic character, it was well paced and fun. So I was curious to see how A Game of Shadows would avoid the pits and traps that so often plague sequels.

A Game of Shadows sees Sherlock and his sidekick Dr. Watson attempt to outwit their cleverest arch rival, Professor Moriarty. Uncovering his intentions, they travel to Switzerland encountering various adversities on the way, whereby, they arrive and attempt to foil Moriarty’s grand reveal. I won’t go further into the plot … mainly because there isn’t much more. Unfortunately it was squeezed to the side by bloated and unnecessary action sequences. In particular, the chase through the forest was simply an exposé of technical wizardry that looked more at home in a music video. While it was visually impressive, here it felt out of place and was ultimately to the detriment to the film. That said, there were some very enjoyable scenes; Watson’s attempt to identify Madam Simza’s true brother did actually manage to balance plot with tension.

Hans Zimmer’s excellent and rousing score suited the period wonderfully, even though it was ostensibly the same score as its predecessor. Robert Downey Jr. was commendable as the swashbuckling and slightly unhinged Sherlock Holmes, spouting some really delightful lines of quick wit in his cross dressing glory (a noticeable nod to Ledger’s Joker from Batman). The character interactions were the real highlight of the film and I just wish more was made of them. However, A Game of Shadows rested too much on the novelties put in place with the first film. Outrageous camera movements through various machinery forced me to stop, wait for the ensuing visual show-off, and then continue. This fragmented flow, accompanied with “novelties” such as predetermined fight sequences, were treated as a new idea. They were fresh and interesting in the first film, but here felt tired and forced. What was sorely lacking was a concerted investment and focus in the narrative. We already know the universe that Guy Ritchie has set up in the first film, now it’s time to “crack on” with some real meaty plot.

Ultimately the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows suffered inconsistency of pace, a disjointed narrative flow, and a lack of plot. However, despite these short comings, I must admit that I still enjoy Ritchie’s take on the character of Holmes and will still be in line to see the next film. But for now I will be content to watch the excellent BBC rendition.

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