Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Movie Review
If there was any sequel I was most excited for this year, Sherlock Holmes 2 was the one. Having loved the first movie to pieces, I was raring to join the world’s most famous detective on another adventure of mystery, intrigue, romance, and action.
Unfortunately, A Game of Shadows failed to deliver on all points, save for the very last.
To review this movie properly, I believe the easiest way is to compare it to the original film, because the original film was just that – original. Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as the beloved character was shockingly different, and he captured audiences immediately with his terrific accent and quirky eccentricisms (yes, that is now a word). Throw in a plot that kept you on the edge of your seat, a villain that was truly villainous, and a love interest that was shrouded in mystery, and you had yourself the recipe for a perfect Sherlock Holmes movie, peppered with humor and action to boot. Such are the reasons why the first movie excelled, and such are the reasons why this movie does not.
The biggest disappointment for me was the fact that this movie did not deliver what it promised. At last we were going to see Holmes and Moriarty battle it out in a “game of shadows”, but, for the most part, the movie didn’t even focus on said “game.” Instead, the audience is taken on an overly drawn-out and pointless globe-trotting adventure, filled with sight-gags and predictable/clichéd plot-twists. And when Holmes and Moriarty finally do collide, I felt cheated. Jared Harris’ Moriarty was, in this reviewer’s opinion, an incredibly weak villain, and it felt as if the writers/director were simply riding on the name of Moriarty, for said name implies evil and cunning and deceit. None of those attributes were present in Harris’ interpretation of the character, however, thus reducing Moriarty to nothing more than a wasted opportunity of greatness.
And while we’re on the topic of character interpretations, I’m going to be honest with you: I felt that Downey Jr.’s Holmes was off. I don’t know if it was due to the script or the director or Downey Jr. himself, but the Sherlock in this film felt different than the last film. It was almost as if he was out of character. He didn’t come across as the crazed genius that he did before – instead, he came across as simply crazy. He didn’t explain his clever deductions, nor did he pull the audience into his absurd (but ingenious) solutions; essentially, he was reduced to a Jack Sparrow-esque caricature. Some of you may cry foul at this observation, and that’s fine if you do, but I stand by my convictions all the same.
Another reason why this movie failed to deliver is because it didn’t just focus on Holmes and Watson; instead, it had a slew of characters, all with their own plots and contributions to the story, and all were completely unnecessary. Perhaps the biggest waste of space, though, was Sherlock’s older brother, Mycroft Holmes, as portrayed by Stephen Fry. Don’t get me wrong, though – I liked Fry’s Mycroft! But he added absolutely nothing to the movie, other than adding his name to the star-studded credits at the end of the movie (and if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Noomi Rapace’s role in the film yet, it’s because her character, Sim, is just as inconsequential as Fry’s, thus I will not be wasting any more of your time or mine by writing about her outside of these parentheses).
At this point, you may be wondering if this movie did anything right at all, what with all the failures and short-comings I’ve listed thus far, but there is one area where A Game of Shadows excelled.
The action sequences were by far the highlights of this movie; they were beautifully choreographed, perfectly executed, and super fast-paced (save for the Snyder-esque slo-mo sequences where Holmes deduces where he’s going to strike, which were awesome in their own special way), and (for me) those scenes are what made the movie bearable to watch. That might sound harsh, but I did not go to see this movie for the action; the action was merely the delicious icing on a disappointingly bitter cake.
In my reviews, the music always seems to be the last thing I talk about. This is not necessarily because I think the least of it – on the contrary, I think music is one of the most vital components to a movie, and I for one loved the music of Sherlock Holmes.
That is, the first movie’s score.
Hans Zimmer, Lord bless him, delivered a brilliant score for the original film, one that took me completely by surprise in the theatre. I remember thinking “this music is amazing!” and I couldn’t get over that fact for several weeks. Needless to say, I was looking forward to what he was going to bring to the table for this new movie, and (like the movie itself) I found it to be rather lackluster. Was it bad? No. Was it great? No again. It was decent, but failed to capture the intensity of the first film’s score, which is sad considering Zimmer is quite the talented composer.
With that said, instead of leaving you with a sample from the new movie, I’ll leave you with my favorite track from the first movie’s soundtrack (and this is largely due to the fact that I can’t find a good track on the new soundtrack).
To conclude, Sherlock Holmes is not a bad movie.
It is a fun movie, delivering witty jokes and big explosions to entertain the masses, but, while doing so, it sacrifices that which makes any good Sherlock story great – that is, the mystery, the clues, the deductions, and, well, the characters themselves.
I suppose it was too much to ask for lightning to strike twice, and like so many other sequel movies that have come before it, A Game of Shadows is unable to rise from beneath the shadow of its predecessor.
Final Verdict: 7 out of 10 Stars