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Film Review: Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Jan 04, 2012 03:02PM ● By Wendy Sipple

The original filmmakers and actors return for this sequel to the very successful Sherlock Holmes which was released two years ago. In this new adventure, Holmes is at odds with his greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty. Moriarty is the model citizen that no one would expect of nefarious intentions. He is also the intellectual equivalent of Holmes. With the help of Dr. Watson, Holmes sorts through Moriarty’s trail of death and deception in hopes of preventing his plan that will have world history altering implications.

The movie had everything needed for a big budgeted action sequel:  great visuals, a great set of actors in the lead roles, large explosions and plenty of action, and it really is more of the same in regard to the first. Despite all of these great elements the movie was, well, boring. How can this be? There are three things that help explain this.

First, there is no tension. There is so much detail in the whole mystery that the movie is more about the litany of clues than the element of danger. Even in the action scenes, the movie is far more concerned about the style and comedy than the actual danger facing the main characters. Then to really wipe out the element of any tension, before much of the action we are shown a blow by blow breakdown of how Holmes will get out of his quandary. Not at any moment in the movie do I feel that Holmes is actually in any danger.

Second, Moriarty is a terrible villain. The movie doesn’t invest much in the villain, instead opting to focus much of the movie on Holmes. That would be all right if, when Moriarty does occupy the screen, he made a larger impression. Instead he has the look of a banker uncle. He does not give much of a menacing impression. His villainous scheme is more complicated than it needs to be and is nothing more sinister than greed. There was nothing compelling about the villain or his henchman in this movie.

Last, no new ground is really broken with the movie. It feels, looks, and goes through many of the same paces of the first movie. For fans of the first movie that will be all right. But even those audience members want something different added to the mix. Unfortunately it’s just another chapter.

The movie is not devoid of funny moments. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law have great chemistry together and they know how to play off of each other. The ending features one of the cleverest and funniest moments in the series (I won’t ruin it here). Guy Ritchie is great at creating a specific tone and fantastic look. The production values of the movie are nothing short of impressive.

The action is top rate too. However most of it feels out of place, much like it did in the first movie. I remember Holmes as a detective not a Matrix style action icon. It just feels strange that everyone knows martial arts and fights with amazing tactical knowledge. The best parts for me play on Holmes’s mental strength and paranoia. I love the scene revealing his “web of conspiracy” which is featured in all the commercials. I wish the movie featured more of that. Fans of the franchise will enjoy the sequel but will probably admit that there isn’t much that is memorable contained in the film. People who found the first film somewhat boring will not find new life with this sequel.

Films like Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows – Sherlock Holmes, National Treasure and The Mummy

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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