Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Directed by Guy Ritchie, Warner Bros, 2011.

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Stephen Fry, Jared Harris, Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams.

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime

Question: How often does a sequel come out as good as or better than the first? It's rare, I know, but Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows might have just done it.

I really enjoyed Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes (2009), so much so that I have probably seen it a half a dozen times. Sure, it may have been for Robert Downey Jr., but he's worth it, right? And that is probably why I saw the sequel. However, it wasn't just Robert Downey Jr. and his portrayal as the world's most famous "consulting detective" that brought me to the theatre this time. It was one of the first movies in a long time, it seems, that wasn't offered in 3D. Finally. It might have helped that A Game of Shadows was in D-BOX though. This was only my second movie viewing in the motion activated seats, and it won't be my last. Anyway...

One thing that a lot of film-makers do when writing and making a follow-up to a blockbuster: adding in way too much of what worked the first time. It's usually the jokes, special effects, or quirky aspects, which are used sparingly, that help make the original a treat and leave us wanting more; but sequels usually get saturated with these details. It happens ALL THE TIME and it, in my opinion, ruins the sequel. Well, not this time.

A Game of Shadows appears to start off relatively soon after where the previous story ended; and I wasn't sure I was going to like it. In fact, I thought it might be trying too hard by what I first witnessed. To be honest there was one aspect of the first film where I thought it was a bit on the hokey side, and I feared it was going down that path again or where the film-makers thought they had grabbed that elusive brass ring. Luckily, the story took a turn or did something I wasn't expecting at all. It was a shock, actually. Although I kept thinking that, "No, they didn't just do that", and that lingered in my head throughout the rest of the movie until I fully believed it. Nice one! I relaxed - well, as best I could in the ever-moving seats.

I would love to go into detail about the story but if I did, I would just ruin it. Even though Sherlock Holmes is probably the only one who can receive this little amount of information and have the ending all figured out before he takes his next breath, I am stopping here anyway. But rest assured this story is worth seeing. It's more complex and ominous than the first; and I believe it might be best seen on the large screen. The very slow-motion scenes that occurred in Sherlock Holmes (2009) showed up here. No, I am not going to complain about that because I really enjoyed this specific effect. Plus, it was used just enough. And without a doubt, one slow-motion scene that takes place in a forest made the price of the ticket worth it - D-BOX or not.

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, once again, made a great pairing in the sequel, and I can't wait to see them in another one. (Fingers crossed) Watching those two actors play off each other was almost like watching Fred and Ginger dance. I particularly enjoyed the banter back and forth between the two men. I wouldn't be surprised if there was even a little improv in their dialogue. A Game of Shadows shows a greater friendship, collaboration and balancing act that kept this film from being not just another action/adventure sequel.

If you didn't see Sherlock Holmes (2009), it's no big deal (although I recommend seeing it, just the same). There is only one aspect from the first, a specific character: Professor Moriarity, who was mentioned but how they started the story in A Game of Shadows catches you up quickly. In addition, there are new characters introduced here - played by Noomi  Rapace (From the Swedish version of the Stieg Larsson's trilogy) and Stephen Fry, who I hope is in the next one more, albeit more fully clothed. Yep, that's all I am going to say about that piece.

My favorite thing: Robert Downey Jr. - of course.

My least favorite: That the seats didn't move more. D-BOX helps you delve deeper into the story that you almost want it moving the entire time, no matter what's going on in the film. So. Much. Fun.

Rating: PG-13
Length: 129 minutes

Review: 8 out of 10

 Click on film posters below to view films:
BBC's Sherlock Holmes - a fantastic series worth checking out:

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