Guy Ritchie reunites with stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law for a sequel to the highly popular Sherlock Holmes from 2009. The sequel, titled A Game of Shadows follows Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson as they battle their most diabolical enemy yet, Professor Moriarty. Ritchie manages to do what most franchises can’t, which is make a sequel that triumphs over the original film. A Game of Shadows is a funnier, more action-packed film than the previous because of Downey Jr.’s and Law’s tight-knit chemistry and Ritchie’s ability to advance the stories of Holmes without losing that initial charm.
Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) has gotten a lot stranger since we last ran into him. He’s mostly a loner now, but he does try and squeeze in time for his best pal and sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law). Watson is getting married and Holmes is slowly drifting into insanity, which makes for the perfect occasion for the two to reunite and stop another criminal mastermind. Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) is Holmes’ most clever and calculated enemy yet, which means Holmes and Watson must pair up with Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace) to hopefully bring Moriarty down.
Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows is basically a rehash of the original film, but with a bigger budget and a more over-the-top sense of humor. Director Guy Ritchie keeps Holmes and Watson the center of attention, with Downey Jr. and Law continuing to express their excellent chemistry. The bickering back and forth between the two is the highlight of the film, with the action and general easy going mood helping the film move along.
The removal of Rachel McAdams for Noomi Rapace is about the only thing that felt like a downgrade, not because one actress is better than the other, but because McAdams had a more natural chemistry with Downey Jr. But what Ritchie messes up in one department he makes up for in another with the casting of Jared Harris as the villain.
Harris’ Moriarty is one of the more popular villains from Holmes’ past and Harris does the character justice, providing enough intricate detail and precision to the role, allowing for a character that actually just might be able to beat Holmes/Watson.
Ritchie also employs more use of those super slow-motion cameras from the first film, which helps kick up the action. Most of the gunfire seems more organized this time around, with rarely a dull moment.
The problem I had with the first Holmes film was that it took too many stops to try and weed out the good dialogue versus the bad dialogue. Some lines didn’t feel any need to be present in the film, yet Ritchie sort of just let them slide. The first film plays out a lot slower and lot less focused than A Game of Shadows, which does feel a bit sillier, but a lot more fun.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a good example of how to take what works and make it better. The sequel is bigger, full of more familiar faces and a lot more entertaining. Some of the sequences are a lot more over-the-top and hokey than the original film, but it essentially makes for a more enjoyable film that never has time to slow down or get too serious.
The 1080p video encode is faithful and pristine. This is another shining example of how to properly transfer a film that consists of mostly dark colors, with a fair amount of grain and filtering. A Game of Shadows never appears too soft or lacking of distinct detail. Colors are rich and vibrant and skin tones and textures aren’t altered or waxed.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is a beat-for-beat experience that captures every little detail. There’s an open space of activity that gets filled with explosions, gunfire and general effects. Dialogue is loud and centered on the front channels.
Here’s a list of special features:
- Maximum Movie Mode (HD)
- A Game of Shadows Movie App
- Focus Points (HD)
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
The film is bigger, funnier and a lot quicker than its predecessor and the Blu-Ray disc is another winner from Warner Bros. There’s not a ton of special features, but WB’s trademark Maximum Movie Mode makes up for the lack of other content. It’s a very in-depth feature that allows you to watch the film and learn a lot about the filmmaking process along the way. I suggest a viewing of it after you’ve seen the film in its regular form.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is everything you’d want a Sherlock Holmes sequel to be. Guy Ritchie does what most director’s fail to do and that is bring back the characters we’ve all grown to love and give them a new story that feels worthy of being told and not something made simply for the cash.