Film review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsBy John Ellul
May 30, 2012
A SEQUEL to the hugely popular and vastly successful 2009 Sherlock Holmes film, A Game of Shadows is excellent fun and well worth a couple of hours of anyone’s time.
It is not, however, a typical Sherlock Holmes film by any stretch of the imagination, and anyone hoping for such should look elsewhere.
In general, the public appetite for late-Victorian detective escapades has never been greater, with the BBC’s Sherlock series rightly winning over all critics, and similar praise heaped on the pairing of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in their first outing of director Guy Ritchie’s interpretation of the great sleuth.
This follow-up is broadly based on the short story The Final Problem, published by Holmes’ creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1893, albeit with perhaps more explosions and gunplay than in the original version.
Exciting, action-packed and full of suspense, A Game of Shadows provides the perfect evening’s entertainment for anyone looking for a light-hearted adventure caper, with an interesting role reversal of sorts as Downey Jr. plays a slightly dumbed-down Holmes to Law’s serious and sensible Watson.
To add to the intrigue, all the familiar cast members are present and correct, including Inspector Lestrade, housekeeper Mrs Hudson, love interest Irene Adler, arch-nemesis Moriarty, and Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.
A bomb plot, torture, and, maybe most unlikely of all, Holmes throwing Mrs Watson from a moving train into a lake, all follow as the story reaches its climax at the Reichenbach waterfall, and its inevitable conclusion.
If I had one reservation about this film, which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, as I did the first instalment in the series, it would be that it deviates too far from the original tales, and strips down the Sherlock Holmes aspect of the story to the point of almost irrelevance, in an attempt to ‘sex up’ the source material for modern movie-goers.
In an age when films have to battle with the likes of the James Bond and Jason Bourne franchises, and even Downey Jr’s own Iron Man series, it should be the original elements of the man from 221B Baker Street which set him apart – this film could have changed the names of all the characters and still been just as entertaining.
Not much to mention in the way of additional features on the DVD release, with three featurettes included highlighting different aspects of the production, exploring the Holmes-Watson ‘bromance’, the eye-catching action sequences, and the depiction of villain Moriarty.
Further features are included on the Blu-ray release.