Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Guy Ritchie, 2011)

What's it about? Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) is a bit miffed about the impending nuptials of his friend Dr. Watson (Jude Law), especially since he needs his help as he tackles his toughest challenge yet in the form of master criminal Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) and his dastardly plans.


Is it any good? Given the downward trajectory of Guy Ritchie's career when he made the first Sherlock Holmes, it came as a bit of a surprise when he delivered a pretty solid action adventure with appealing chemistry between Downey Jr and Law. It wasn't for the Sherlock traditionalists, but it had a real sense of fun about it, which was fair enough. So clearly not a man to fix something that isn't broke and risk bollixing up his career again, Ritchie simply gives us pretty much the same film again. Like before, we have some comic banter between Holmes and Watson, some slo-mo sequences to depict Holmes' heightened thought process and a few big-budget action set-pieces. It's watchable enough guff, but truthfully, if someone were to mix scenes from both films up and put them together in a different way, you probably wouldn't even notice, especially since the plot of this second film is fairly mixed up already. Something about a war and an assassin, I think. They were in Paris for a bit too. Ah, I don't really remember - it's been at least 12 hours since I watched it. Not worth worrying about, to be honest. But perhaps the biggest problem with this new film is in failing to develop a satisfying battles of minds between Holmes and Moriarty, ultimately resorting to that tired old cliche of the two locking horns over a chessboard to demonstrate their genius. (Even I can play chess - and drunk chess at that - and it didn't seem to hard to me, except remembering how the horsey moved. Snakes and Ladders, though? Now, there's a challenge.) Anyway, compared to the terrific depiction of the same characters in the other recent Holmes revamp, the much superior BBC series Sherlock, the clash of master detective and master criminal is rather disappointing. Ironically, to best enjoy this story of the detective with the big brain, you really need your own brain switched off.

Anything else I should know? I met Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson once. I was out walking in the woods and found them looking at a strange tree, which had a trunk of fire, water splashing from its leaves, clumps of earth hanging from its branches and air blowing through it wildly. "Do you know what sort of tree this is?" Watson asked me. "Of course," I said. "it's an element tree, my dear Watson."

What does the Fonz think? A quote on the movie poster said "Bigger, Better, Funnier". I'd go with "Faster, Dafter, Not as Funny"





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