I feel bad for director Guy Ritchie. I know I shouldn't because he's rich, good looking and probably has a splendid life. But besides the fact that the poor bastard had to be married to Madonna all those years, he's also a very talented filmmaker that never, ever gets any critical credit. The most commercial success he's had in his career have been the two Sherlock Holmes movies and both, just like all his other films, have been widely panned by my fellow critics. I don't know where the hatred comes from but it's certainly undeserved (except for maybe his taste in women. Yeesh!)
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows is exactly what you want if you were a fan of the first one. It's slick, fast-paced, exciting, funny as hell, action-packed and charming. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Holmes and ever-by-his-side in the eternal bromance is Dr. Watson, played once again by Jude Law. Both actors have proven time and again how skilled they are at creating charasmatic characters that you champion on, and they do it again here with no problem. Downey essentially is playing his Tony Stark character from Iron Man but with a British accent and Law is playing every character he's ever had in a romantic drama or comedy. It's uncreative, but we love it when they do that, so I can give them a pass.
The addition to this film is from Noomi Rapace, who was the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, performing in English for the first time in her career. Could have fooled me she wasn't speaking it all along. And Jared Harris (AMC's Mad Men, Fox's Fringe) playing the original Super Villain, Professor Moriarty. LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW WITH JARED HARRIS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS REVIEW Harris is excellent and an inspired choice to play the ying to Holmes' yang. I apprecitae that Ritchie selected a much less famous actor to take on the role. Their relationship is written and treated with the respect it deserves as the ultimate cat and mouse duo. Rapace's character I can't speak so highly of.
Once again, I appreciate Ritchie going out on a limb and choosing an unknown (to American audiences) actress for the role of a gypsy woman named Simza. She aides Holmes and Watson in their mystery this time around, but unlike Rachel McAdams in the last one, Rapace is a wildly pointless character. (McAdams does reprise her role in Game of Shadows but only for about 5 minutes.) Everything Rapace puts into her performance is erased by how unneeded she is in the film. The motives for that character to be in the story stems only from pandering to male audiences that might want some eye candy in the film, which offends me more than it pisses me off.
Another area Game of Shadows failed was in the concept of taking Holmes out of London for a vast part of the story. That might make casual fans of the films pleased but that's like taking Superman out of Metropolis, Batman out of Gotham, or Spiderman out of New York...you just don't do it. London was just as much a character in the Sherlock Holmes stories as Watson was. I can respect that the producers might have feared the film got too bogged down or copycat of the first one if they stayed in 1891 London again, but I say, if you want to make a movie about Sherlock Holmes...that too damn bad.
But once again, Guy Ritchie makes a visual feast for you to look at. He directs with the furocity of Oliver Stone and the humor of some Coen Brothers films. Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels are still some of the best crime movies ever made and I encourage everyone to see them. The Sherlock Holmes films are made for a wider audience than those, but, at times, executed with the same level of aggresive fun. With consistency like this in a film franchise, it makes me eager to see what comes next. Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B+
Listen to Gavin's interview with Jared Harris here:
It's funny you summed up exactly how I felt about the film. I loved the gypsy aspect of the film but the only thing that fortune teller did was eat...seriously she's stuffing her mouth in most of the scenes...but I liked how she wasn't widely known or too sexy. I didn't care that they took him out of england...I thought it needed to when it came to that Switzerland scene... i loved how it kept you guessing till the end and that chess match done audibly at the end was totally awesome....even if it's scripted...it was still cool.