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Published on March 14th, 2012 | by Yellow Magpie

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Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows Film Review: Light Entertainment

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Director: Guy Ritchie.
Cast: Robert Downey Junior, Jude Law and Jared Harris.

Entertaining and well-acted A Game Of Shadows places Sherlock Holmes on well-defined territory while also taking the iconic figure along untried paths.

The convoluted plot of Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is hard to follow. A series of apparently unconnected terrorist attacks and murders all lead back to Sherlock Holmes’s arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Holmes, spurred on by the death of the woman he loved, together with his trusted companion, Dr. Watson, undergo a circuitous journey as they track down a gypsy that seems to hold an important part in the puzzle.

Madama Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) And Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) In Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows

The strengths of Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows lies in the way it manages to balance drama with a light, comic touch. It suffers when the action sequences and visual effects overpower the storytelling. Guy Ritchie’s overindulgence of slow-motion shots does not help the cause either.

The battle between Moriarty and Holmes is intriguing. Equals physically and intellectually, both are addicted to playing out their strategies as they fight their battle. The two characters seem to lack empathy, although Moriarty has taken this to extremes, and both seem to be narcissistic and egotistical.

‘This stems principally from the fact that even by American standards Downey Jr. has a deep voice…’

The subplots in A Game Of Shadows are intriguing and immeasurably add to the enjoyment of the film. The tension between Dr. Watson and the needy and attention-seeking Holmes produces some marvellous scenes as the doctor becomes a married man.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes voice has an unnatural English accent which is very difficult to understand. This stems principally from the fact that even by American standards Downey Jr. has a deep voice which does not lend itself well to a London dialect.

Carruthers (John Laskey) And Mycroft Holmes (Stephen Fry) In Warner Bros. In Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows

Accent aside, Downey Jr. delivers a highly competent performance as Holmes. He deftly handles the balance between being emotionally needy and comically likeable. Despite the superhuman aspects of Holmes, Downey Jr. brings a vulnerability to the role that emphases the human quality of the character.

Jude Law is more than satisfactory as the able sidekick, Dr. Watson. A much more reasonable personality than Holmes, he grounds his college and somewhat curbs Holmes’s self-destructive behaviours.

‘Standing in his way is Holmes who uses every excuse to tempt Watson with hedonistic activities. ‘

Watson is undergoing a transition as his seeks to bridge the gap between youthful irresponsibility and responsible adulthood as he gets married. Standing in his way is Holmes who uses every excuse to tempt Watson with hedonistic activities. Watson recognises Holmes’s true intentions but does not want to lose his dear friend. The resulting conflict between the two powers much of the film.

Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) In Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows

Jared Harris gives a very good performance as the menacing psychopath, Professor Moriarty. Harris does equally well in displaying Moriarty’s convivial mask with subtle dark undertones and and the full-blown psychotic menace lurking underneath. The battle of wits between Holmes and himself provides the highlight of the film.

‘despite having a fair few minutes on screen she fails to make a lasting impression…’

Noomi Rapace delivers an adequate performance as the gypsy Madam Simza Heron. Nonetheless, despite having a fair few minutes on screen she fails to make a lasting impression and is somewhat overshadowed by Rachel McAdams even though she is only briefly on-screen.

Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) And Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) In Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows

Although only her character endures an early demise, Rachel McAdams’s Irene Adler is one of the stand out members of the film. The fascinating mix of wit, charm, untrustworthiness and vulnerability is a potent cocktail and McAdams’s portrayal is pin sharp in its execution.

Unfortunately, for the viewer she is underutilised and the film suffers as a result.

‘Mycroft is charming, hilarious and a wonderful asset.’

Sherlock Holmse’s brother, Mycroft Holmes, is a most welcome addition to what may become a franchise. Played wonderfully by Stephen Fry, Mycroft is charming, hilarious and a wonderful asset. Many of the film’s best comic moments occur when he graces us with his presence.

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) And Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) In Warner Bros.  Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows

As is the trademark of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series, A Game Of Shadows is quite difficult to follow. The plot is very convoluted and it isn’t always clear why an event is occurring. The compact nature of the film exacerbates these characteristics and at times viewers can be left wondering what is happening.

Some of the supernatural elements of the film and implausible nature of many the scenes may prove too much for some Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts. Nevertheless, when you take into account Holmes’s preternatural deductive reasoning perhaps it isn’t stretched too far.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is a highly enjoyable and quite funny film. Is it a cinematic masterpiece? No, but few films are. What it does is provide light entertainment and good enjoyable escapism for just over an hour and a half.


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