director: Guy Ritchie
writers: Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney
starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris and Noomi Rapace
genre: Crime | Thriller
released: December 16, 2011 (U.S.), December 5, 2011 (Greece)
The modern day adaptions of "Sherlock Holmes", could leave hardcore fans disappointed. As the faster paced and more action centric films are by no means, a true adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle books. But for the rest of us, who don't give a damn about Sherlock Holmes. We get once again a decent update for the times and one's that take advantage of the blockbuster style very well. Especially the sequel to the re-visioned Sherlock Holmes, which up's the stakes by throwing in his ultimate nemesis and making the action even grander than before.
Last film left us with clues of a mysterious villain behind the curtains. This villain we find out it to be Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) a true match to Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) in wits and brawn's. Finding out Moriarty's true plot is made difficult when Holmes uncovers the villains true identity and his well connected background. Moriarty is not only wealthy and well respected, but one of the most intelligent men in the academic community of London and a close friend to the prime minister. Holmes with all of this and his best friend Dr. Watson's (Jude Law) marriage has to get to the bottom of Moriarty's secret plan and save Europe from its dire fate.
I enjoyed the first film somewhat. It was a kind of adaptation take I had not thought would work out well, especially with Downey and Richie involved. But it came out to be quite original and well liked by all. Now for the sequel it suffers in the usual departments of bigger is better. Studios especially think this works in sequels. Thinking no one would ever come back to see the second film if there aren't even more giant explosions but only a good and cohesive story.
What's the sequel's biggest fault is its awful beginning. Introducing new and old characters in a very boring fashion. Having action scenes that feel forced and unnecessary to get things moving along. There was need for this, as not only were the scenes unnecessary but also nothing special in of themselves. Quite the contrary with the filmmaking in the second half of the film. It would have been preferable to see character and plot development, some mystery and Holmes actually being more of a detective than a 1890's James Bond in the first half of the film.
The second half not only turns everything around for the better. But has some of the best action scenes of the year. Beautifully shot and perfectly coordinated by director Guy Ritchie. Especially the canon woods sequence. Demonstrating his directing talent in action and the pitch perfect ideas of camera placement and the kinetic speed of action. With incredible cuts and slow mo's to the big explosions and chases.
However the action is not the only part where "A Game of Shadows" excels. Its in its cast where Downey, Law and Harris all do a splendid job and all are perfect choices for their roles. Selling us on the idea of these zany characters being geniuses in their respective fields and action masters. Law also is greatly underrated actor that even in a supporting role shines, Harris unknown to most except TV fans shows that as the star villain can shine. But if it wasn't for Downey as Holmes there would be no film. He sells the role just like Depp with Jack Sparrow. Undeniable likable throughout the film and perfectly acted in his portrayal of an English detective mastermind.
By the end "Game of Shadows" leaves you wanting for more. The second half is so good compared to the first, that you wish that the first half hadn't gone to waste. The film isn't a letdown even with its bad first part. Its just would have been a better bang for your buck action flick.