SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Guy Ritchie’s films blow hot and cold for me, and not always in agreement with the critical consensus. Case in point, I really don’t like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” but I really dug “Snatch.” I skipped “Swept Away” for good reason, but I do like his “Sherlock Holmes” movies.
Initially, the first one wore on me, but upon subsequent viewings, I found it more and more enjoyable. when the sequel came out this past Christmas, there was a lot of anger thrown at it from the critics. I disagreed, however. As much as I did end up liking the first film, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” was a fun romp through the world Ritchie created.
This new film takes place on the even of Watson’s wedding, with Holmes being a bit of a baby to say good-bye to his friend. Upon the nuptials, Holmes and Watson are pulled into a new mystery in which criminal mastermind James Moriarty threatens to do away with Holmes’ favorite people. In order to save them (and the bulk of Europe), Holmes goes head-to-head with his new nemesis.
Not long after the first “Sherlock Holmes” was released, the BBC offered us a fantastic and accurate modern-day adaptation of the detective with “Sherlock.” While many point to that show for all of what Guy Ritchie’s films are missing, I’m okay with it. Different adaptations are fine, and while Downey Jr.’s Holmes is not quite what Conan Doyle put on the page, they’re true enough in spirit.
Like the first film, “A Game of Shadows” is a bit convoluted. However, it’s also aware of itself. Where Holmes was able to dissect a situation and plan out a fight step-by-step, he falters in this movie as new elements are thrown at him. This is Ritchie winking and nodding at the audience, as if to say he didn’t want to do the exact same thing as before.
The addition of Noomi Rapace as a gypsy fortune teller to the mix was a nice touch, and it offered a clean exit for Rachel McAdams to mostly bow out for this film. However, the best addition to this installment in the Sherlock Holmes movies is Jared Harris as James Moriarty. His scenes – particularly the final showdown between him and Holmes – are clever and extremely fun to watch.
If you’re like my mother, a Sherlock Holmes purist, you’ll probably not like this movie any more than the previous one. However, if you did enjoy the first film, this is more of the same.
On the surface, it looks like the “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” Blu-ray runs kinda thin. There’s few features called out on the cover box, but when it’s put in the player, the real value emerges. The best feature by far – as is with many of the Warner Bros. releases – is the Maximum Movie Mode. Instead of having Guy Ritchie walk you through the movie, Robert Downey Jr. does the honors. This embedded feature includes picture-in-picture content, storyboards, focus point (which are basically mini-documentaries) and still galleries.
Other tech-based features include the “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Movie App,” which will sync the movie with your portable device. Additional multi-platform features include UltraViolet streaming and an included DVD of the film.