Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Like an SI2 diamond, this movie is all sparkly and pretty, but has a few minor flaws that only a trained eye will notice - or even care about.  Guy Ritchie directs this enjoyable sequel and continues to prove that Madonna was his albatross.  He brings back his blue-hued scenery, gritty characters and trademark action, but it feels very much like a continuation of the original, if not a bit faded.  Despite the objections of the Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts, I still love Robert Downey Jr.'s sarcastic take on the titular character and although Jude Law's Dr. Watson never really feels like the original, it creates the perfect on-screen balance.

A Game of Shadows was supposed to be the highly anticipated introduction to Holmes' arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty, but this movie doesn't really do enough to emphasize their feud.  For those unfamiliar with the books or older movies, trust me... this is supposed to be a bigger deal.  First off, they were originally planning on having multi Oscar Award winning actor Daniel Day Lewis play Moriarty, then Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn and Javier Bardem were all considered for the role.  But they eventually went with character actor Jared Harris who is in his own right a very good actor (don't get me wrong here), but he's just not a name that sells tickets, which was a bit surprising.  And neither Ritchie nor the writers did much to build up Moriarty's appearance in the film.  This is Luke vs. Vader, Rocky vs. Apollo, Dorothy vs. The Wicked Witch... but they gloss over their history and their tension in the movie suffers because of it.

Also new to the sequel is Noomi Rapace (the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as the Gypsy fortune teller whose brother may be the key to Moriarty's diabolical plan.  Noomi is pretty enough to just be in a film to make it good, but her character isn't really fleshed out enough which prevents her from showing her true acting prowess.  Although I do appreciate that they didn't just turn her into another one of Holmes' random love interests.  Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) is also introduced in the sequel, but has a very removed supporting role only popping up a few times to provide a little advice and taking care of Watson's fiancee during their adventure.  Both entertaining roles, just not very meaty.

Apart from my issues with Moriarty and a few small editing flaws (which I can't explain without a couple small spoilers, but PM me and we can chat about it), the movie is a very enjoyable "popcorn" movie!  I've been a Guy Ritchie fan since day one and am very happy to see him continuing to get recognition.  If you haven't seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) or Snatch (2000) do yourself a favor and rent them this weekend... better yet, stop reading this and go get them right now.  A Game of Shadows features Ritchie's trademark thugs, gypsies and fast-then-slow camerawork which make it evident throughout that this is his movie.  He keeps the pace of the story fast which makes the audience unaware of the 130 minute runtime.  Awesome special effects and of course the script by Michele and Kieran Mulroney is effectively funny.

So as you can see, my ragging on this movie is pretty nit-picky.  Overall, a wonderful and enjoyable movie that is worth your $10 for the action and humor alone.

My Score:  7/10
IMDB Score:  7.8/10

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