A man of great intellect and eccentricity, detective Sherlock Holmes forces his reluctant assistant, Dr. Watson, to endure his silly experiments. Watson walks into Holmes’ office, dressed up as a wilderness by plants and animals of the like. Refusing to play his games, Watson simply approaches the end of the office, to find a dart flung upon him. Holmes reveals himself as the culprit, hidden in the corner and dressed in bookshelf/wall-like camouflage. If you just managed to miss Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes adventure, this scene would describe the character perfectly. Holmes is insane! But insanely smart.
His latest adversary, Professor Moriarty, is equally as insane and intelligent. He has Holmes sent over for a single meeting his office. The great detective had already announced his suspicion of Moriarty to Watson earlier. Now was his chance to prove them correct, as he spends the scene deducing all the logic and evidence placed before him. What makes the scenes between Holmes and Moriarty so great is that Holmes is constantly sizing up Moriarty as an opponent. This comes to play later in the climax when the two take their wits to a game of chess. The game is entirely vocalized, and played out, not with the plastic pieces before them, but with actual colleagues working towards a real goal in the room next to them. This isn’t your standard action movie confrontation between a hero and his villain. No, this simple test of wisdom and ego is far more interesting. There is, in deed, a fight. But it is carried out within their minds, as they each size up logical moves the other would make and the likeliest outcomes of those actions. These are by far the best moments in the film. They are followed by a rushed solution that lacks any sort of theatricality and dramatic integrity, but at least it leads to one of the funniest scenes in the movie in the very last scene.
As a sequel, A Game of Shadows is neither an improvement nor a regression in quality from the original. It is as easily entertaining as the first, as it is just as flawed. The only true setbacks in the film is that it often lacks an emotional influence that would make it far more interesting and gripping of a story. Take Holmes, he has learned that someone who was once so important to him had met a horrible fate early in the film. Yet, he rarely shows any remorse. This is most likely in part of his character, yet is a story where a person lost a girl he loved, yet barely blinks an eye all that interesting? The rushed climax I mentioned earlier is also an example of this. Yet, these will have a minor impact of your enjoyment of the film as a whole. The story itself is easily forgettable, but the characters themselves will leave you satisfied. The next time Holmes and Morairty come to blows, I would hope for more twist and turns in the story than what was delivered here, but this will do for now.
One thing that didn’t work for me this time around was Hans Zimmer’s score. Zimmer is often regarded as a generic composer by the more serious film community, who often ignores some of his finer works from the past and get him confused by his countless imitators working in the film and gaming industry today. His score for the first Sherlock Holmes was amazing, with a brass and lively main theme that was the centerpiece used for its Oscar nod a couple years back. Here, the score just feels dialed back and, yes, a tad bit on generic and forgettable side.
Ultimately, the film is fun. It isn’t the most intellectually stimulating pieces of film to come out in recent ages, but does every movie need to be? Certainly, not an action/adventure, which is what many, including myself, paid to see. We went to the theater expecting Robert Downey Jr.’s nutty Holmes and that is exactly what was delivered. No more, no less.
Tags: A Game of Shadows, adversary, bookshelf, camouflage, culprit, detective sherlock holmes, dr watson, dramatic integrity, eccentricity, game of chess, game of shadows, guy ritchie, intellect, moriarty, plants and animals, plastic pieces, professor moriarty, Sherlock Holmes, simple test, theatricality, villain, wits