Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (minor spoilers)
Sherlock Holmes seems to have become all the rage the past couple of years, with the first Robert Downey Jr movie, the excellent Sherlock series from BBC and the upcoming Elementary series from CBS giving us a new spin on old mysteries, and considering my love for mystery shows (and mad characters) I have absolutely no problem with this trend (yet).
I will admit to quite liking the first Robert Downey Holmes movie, so I was all set out to like this one too. And I have to say, I did. Sure, he’s not as clever as Benedict Cumberbatch’s version, nor is the writing as tight, but on the whole it was a fun movie with some memorable scenes. I will keep spoilers as light as possible, but a few things will need to be mentioned.
Also, this will not be as long my Prometheus post, because there’s honestly not that much to say about this film.
The plot opens with talk of acts of terrorism in 1891, and Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) returns from the first movie to deliver a package which Sherlock figures out to be a bomb and saves the intended victim. This is basically just to get the plot started, as we learn Watson (Jude Law) is about to get married, and Sherlock is a little bit huffy about losing his friend this way. They agree to do one last case together before the marriage, and set off for a short adventure, with the rest kicking off after the wedding.
Robert Downey Holmes is portrayed as a neurotic individual with a tendency to get bored, dress up and pull pranks on people. The movie occasionally shows how brilliant he can be, and how quick as well, and while the scenes showing how his plan is coming together are quite enjoyable, they seem more incidental than a key part of the character, though perhaps that’s just my impression.
The action scenes are pretty good, though perhaps they could do with a little less slow-motion scenes. At times they are appreciated however, since they better show us exactly what’s happening (it can get a bit chaotic), but a lot of them could have been cut.
There are some good quips though, like Holmes’s view on horses: “They are dangerous at both ends, and crafty in the middle.”. He is apparently okay with ponies though, because when provided with one, he does ride it, which is inherently hilarious. And the movie features several moments of shooting sparrows with a cannon, as we say in Norway, to varying degrees of amusement.
Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) is not as good as he could have been. They never really show how clever he is in a good way, and for the most part he’s reduced to just another villain with a scheme for world domination. Watson’s bride-to-be, Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly), I have to say I quite liked, though she had a miniscule role in the actual film. The Gypsy fortune-teller Simza (Noomi Rapace) got a bigger role, though I felt she fell mainly under the role of “plot device”, though it’s not as bad as being just the “love interest”. I will commend the movie for not shoving a romance subplot into the script.
And Stephen Fry shows up as Mycroft Holmes, which was a delightful surprise for me. I love Stephen Fry, and while his version of Mycroft was a lot more jolly and whimsy than the one in BBC’s Sherlock, I felt he was a good bonus to this movie.
Overall, it’s not a great film, but it’s a fun one. There’s no real mystery for the audience to partake in, it instead focuses on action and the occasional bit of showing “ooo, he’s a clever one, that Holmes”, with some funny lines and scenes inserted to keep the thing from going too dark. If you liked the first one, you’ll probably like this one too, just don’t expect it to make you exercise your brain all that much.