Meredith reviews Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
The second installment of Sherlock Holmes has arrived at Reckless!
I was really looking forward to this one. I saw the first one in the theater and loved it, but I had not seen the second one till I borrowed it from Reckless for this review. To prepare myself, I read some of the online reviews. I read everything from Ebert and The New York Times, to Johnny Movie's Cinema Chat (I might have made one of those up). The reviews were mixed – people either thought it was great fun or great garbage. And that works for me, because now whatever I decide will be backed up by at least one national reviewer. Because I am a professional, people.
Game of Shadows picks up not long after the first movie left off. Holmes and Watson are on the hunt for Professor Moriarty, who is plotting to start a world war so that he can make money off the sale of ammunition. As you do. We see the return (albeit brief) of Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), and the addition of a few new characters. Holmes' brother is introduced (ever wanted to see Stephen Fry naked? Here's your chance, bucko!), and we meet Sim, a gypsy fortune teller played by the amazing Noomi Rapace, who was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in the Swedish version of the film. She becomes the third musketeer in this movie, helping Holmes and Watson with the case. Unfortunately, I spent most of the movie saying, “Yay! There's Noomi again! Huh. I wonder why she's in this scene?” It felt a little “tacked on” at times.
The director, Guy Ritchie, has firmly established that his Sherlock Holmes is an action-adventure Sherlock. There are no small clues that are brooded over, as there are in the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Instead, there are explosions and gunfire. But as long as you're not a purist, it's still a lot of fun.
There's a lot to enjoy in Game of Shadows. For one, the signature move of the film – its “whatchu talkin' bout, Willis”, so to speak – is taking you through the clues as Holmes picks up on them. Sometimes it does this to help the viewer catch up to Holmes and show you how he reaches his conclusions. And as someone who frequently gets confused by movie plots, I found this very helpful. I could watch Free Willy and spend half the movie wondering if they are ever going to let that whale (whats-his-name) go. I can be a little slow.
Also, in a world where jarring, hand-held, nausea-inducing camera shots are the rage, this film offers a lot of interesting super slow motion shots. I do not enjoy getting dizzy – the tire swing is my nemesis – so this was a great change of pace. Speaking of nemesis-es, the scenes between Holmes and his nemesis, Moriarty, are lots of fun to watch. They have a scene towards the end where they try to one up each other while calling out chess moves that is terrific. And I don't understand chess! Which should maybe not surprise you.
Finally, the relationship between Holmes and Watson is, as in the first one, the best part of the movie. In particular, the fact that a more “intimate” relationship is not-so-subtly hinted at throughout. Some reviewers mentioned this and I thought, “What? Really? Nah......” Well, let me tell you – those two are an old married couple if I've ever seen one. From lines like, “Are you really wearing that scarf?” to, as Holmes says to Watson, “Unlike you, I repress nothing.” And Holmes' extreme resentment over Watson's marriage, which is one of the focal points of the film? Come on now, folks. COME ON.
All in all, it's a fun action adventure flick. No real mystery or major plot twists like you might expect from a character like Sherlock Holmes, but it's for sure entertaining. Now if those two crazy kids could just work it out............
Meredith Bland is a
freelance writer who blogs