Welcome to Manchester Confidential
Reset Password
The Confidential websites will be undergoing routine updates. This may cause the sites to go offline. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience.

You are here: Manchester ConfidentialEntertainment & SportCinema.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

Rachel Winterbottom is entertained but not particularly stimulated by the detective sequel

Published on December 22nd 2011.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

THE year is 1891 and a recent bombing in Europe has caused rising tensions between several countries. There is only one person able to deduce that there is more to the explosion that meets the eye: renowned detective and expert in urban camouflage, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.).  

The sleuth, whose inimitable powers of deduction come in handy in a brawl, is more eccentric in this latest outing than in director Guy Richie’s first film. Surviving on a diet of caffeine and formaldehyde, Holmes is wallowing in self pity over his partner Dr. Watson’s (Jude Law) upcoming marriage when the story begins.

Richie’s sequel follows in the same vein as its predecessor, delivering consistently impressive action set pieces which contrast beautifully with sumptuous period details.

His spirits rise after obtaining a clue from the duplicitous Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), and the detective connects the explosions to his arch-enemy, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). Despite being appalled at Watson’s decision to settle down and marry, Holmes requests that his friend joins him on this one last case.

Holmes organises a slapdash stag do for Watson, replacing his actual friends with his own brother, Mycroft (a delightful Stephen Fry), so that the siblings can spend the evening out-deducing each other. The occasion just happens to be held at a venue where Holmes can save the life of gypsy fortune teller, Sim (Noomi Rapace) which in turn leads him to realise that Watson’s life is in danger at the hands of Moriarty.

Determined to protect the newlyweds, Holmes follows the Watsons as they board a train to Brighton for their honeymoon. After foiling Moriarty’s assassination attempts, Holmes diverts their journey to Paris to seek out Sim and unravel the motives behind the bombings. Bickering as only they know how, the duo race against time to prevent the dastardly professor from causing an international crisis.

Based loosely on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, The Final Problem, A Game of Shadows kicks off shortly after the events of the first film. Richie’s sequel follows in the same vein as its predecessor, delivering consistently impressive action set pieces which contrast beautifully with sumptuous period details. New writers have created a sharper, wittier script, although this isn’t without flaws as the film begins to lose its momentum in its final third.

Sherlock-Holmes-A-Game-Of-Shadows-Gets-New-Images-61359-05-470-75

The majority of its viewing time grabs the attention as Holmes and Watson fight their way from one action scene to the next. However, the first film maintained more of an even-handed approach to Holmes’s powers of deductions, as here they are mainly employed in combat. Still, the slow motion insights into Holmes’ thought processes are beautifully executed, despite being used repeatedly.  

The high-octane adventure is made all the more entertaining by the endearing relationship between Holmes and Watson. Law and Downey Jr. have flawless chemistry, and it is impossible to doubt Watson’s love and loyalty for the socially dispassionate Holmes. At the risk of reducing an entire film to a single word, A Game of Shadows is at its best an enjoyable ‘bromance’. This isn’t a criticism.

Noomi Rapace is back in beautiful mode after her phenomenal stint as the troubled lead in the Millennium trilogy. Holmes’ universe doesn’t lack for strong women and although no replacement for McAdams’ fiery Adler, Rapace’s Sim is a lady who can hold her own in a fight. However, rather than being a new romantic interest for Holmes her character frequently functions as no more than a device for Holmes and Watson to explain their convoluted deductions to the audience.

Harris’ Moriarty should be the perfect foil for Holmes, who admires and fears him in equal measure. Unfortunately his schemes are uninventive and he was far more intimidating when operating from the background in the first film. When Holmes and the nondescript Moriarty finally go mind-to-mind at the film's climax, the results are disappointingly banal.

Overall, A Game of Shadows is more entertaining than intelligent. The conclusion is lacklustre and the villain lacks depth. The film, however, still excels as light entertainment and is well worth a watch.

Rating: 7/10


Like what you see? Enter your email to sign up for our newsletters which are chock-a-block with more great reviews, news, deals and savings.

23 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I found it rather depressing that although Moriarty's grand plan was foiled by holmes in the movie, it did historicly happen with all its horific consequences. A thought which made an otherwise good film considerably less enjoyable.

AD

Nigel McFarlaneDecember 22nd 2011.

Without descending too far into Holmes purism, of which I am sure there is plenty, can we please stop assuming that Richie's creation is remotely like Holmes in anything but the names? These films are as far removed from Conan Doyle's creation as the wartime efforts with Basil Rathbone were.
There is no novel by Conan Doyle entitled 'A Game of Shadows', and the notion of Moriarty capturing and torturing Holmes is ludicrous in the context of the original stories.
Richie has cherry-picked characters and incidents from the stories and put them into his own costume action-drama.
By all means enjoy the film for what it is, but to really enjoy the real Holmes (and there is much to savour) read the original stories. And if you want to see a loyal adaptation, watch John Hawkesworth's masterly scripts performed by Jeremy Brett (the perfect Holmes) in Granada's superb series between 1984 and 1994.

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

uluilguujgh
ghiyuhgbvu
hzsdkgghbvhsd
dhgfsdgfdshgdf

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

ou'pojl jgoiughjnklugo7ujgiujjb hfktyfhvjk
vjhjvgyugrf

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

y

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

87

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

e

Rachel WinterbottomDecember 22nd 2011.

It is supposed to say short story 'The Final Problem', rather than A Game of Shadows, which is Richie's re-imagining rather than Conan Doyle's doing.

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I'm sorry Rachel, but I can't agree with your conclusion. Harris' Moriarty is a triumph. Superb subtlety and menace that reached far beyond the first film.

All in all just about as good a piece of film making as you will see anywhere. Yes it's a block-buster that cannot ever achieve the kudos of a Kubrick or a Bergman, but in the action adventure genre, this is an epic.

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I see, so you just delete any comments from those who don't a agree with you, is that it?

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I see, so you just delete any comments from those who don't a agree with you, is that it?

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I see, so you just delete any comments from those who don't a agree with you, is that it?

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I see, so you just delete any comments from those who don't a agree with you, is that it?

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I see, so you just delete any comments from those who don't a agree with you, is that it?

tblzebraDecember 22nd 2011.

Has anonymous passed out onto the keyboard?

Twice in one day?

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

I see, so you just delete any comments from those who don't a agree with you, is that it?

AnonymousDecember 22nd 2011.

Anonymous, ignoring you posting like a twat for a moment - I think the way Man Con operates is to automatically remove any comments as soon as they're posted, and then post them (or not) after reviewing - this sometimes takes a while, but as your comment shows immediately and then disappears, it can appear that your comment has been deleted.
Strange, admittedly.

Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 23rd 2011.

Anonymous - we never take off comments and they all go on. We only take them off if they are personally nasty to individuals. What the odd person above has done is have no patience whatsoever and not given their comments chance to appear.

Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 23rd 2011.

Also I've put the reference to the original short story back - it was sub-edited out in the process of being posted. Sorry Rachel.

AnonymousDecember 23rd 2011.

Jonathan, many times recently I've posted (totally innocuous) comments which are then shown, only for them to disappear a few minutes later, but then reappear a few hours later. I'm not for a moment accusing you of censoring your readers but I'm also not making up my experience, I'm just trying to understand what happens. It can be a bit frustrating so do you have any other explanation? cheers

Jonathan Schofield - editorDecember 23rd 2011.

I'll get the tech team on it - thanks

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 23rd 2011.

I think this tends to happen to me when I'm tabbed browsing and I post a comment then close the tab, sometimes the comment comes back a few hours later sometimes not.

Rachel WinterbottomDecember 23rd 2011.

To the anonymous who mentioned Moriarty. I agree. Harris's nondescript Moriarty himself (not his schemes) was well played. The 'lacks depth' part was an addition when it was sub-edited.

To post this comment, you need to login.Please complete your login information.
OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE..
Or you can login using Facebook.

Latest Rants

Poster Boy

Unlike the reviewer, most of the audience of this film will not have the back knowledge of Chris…

 Read more
Lesley Hampson

We went to the Mark Kermode gig at Bridgewater Hall last night His special guests were the…

 Read more
John Nuttall

Actually Jonathan, you're almost correct in your imagining of the big house full of broadcasters as…

 Read more
LaToya Bollinger

One of the greatest Horror movies to date. Daniel Radcliffe isn't really given a role that he can…

 Read more

Explore The Site

© Mark Garner t/a Confidential Direct 2017

Privacy | Careers | Website by: Planet Code | SEO by The eWord