Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows (2011)

Review by Goldenmouth

The audience knew that it would not be long before they would see another Sherlock Holmes film. After Robert Downey Jr.’s smashing debut as the famed detective in 2009 mystery film, Warner Bros. got all the convincing they needed to make another one. The first film had an obvious lead-in to its sequel with the presence of Professor Moriarty, Holmes’ arch-nemesis in the books. As much as I loved the film itself, perhaps even more so than its predecessor, I feel that there is one major fault with director Guy Ritchie’s film: it is a Sherlock Holmes story without a mystery.

When I realized that, my first thought was “How did I enjoy this movie then?” I am a huge fan of the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle and the BBC television series “Sherlock.” I am supposed to be a purist, right?

After thinking about it for awhile, I came to the conclusion that it is the joint performance of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law that really kept the movie alive. They are the closest versions of Holmes and Watson that film has ever seen (along with the actors who play the duo in the BBC series). And also we are treated to seeing an epic battle of wits between Holmes and Moriarty for the last half-hour of the film.

I came to the conclusion that this is not a mystery film in which every camera shot will be repeated later to the audience in a new light of revelation, but instead it is an adventure film almost reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark or a film based off of a graphic novel. There is plenty of British wit to keep you chuckling to yourself, with plenty of humorous banter between Holmes and Watson as well. Anyone who has seen the first film and loves a good adventure film will be thrilled to see A Game of Shadows, but should be forewarned about the fact that there is no main mystery to be solved. But that certainly does not mar the film enough not to see it.

As far as objectionable content goes, we see more of Holmes’ slow motion thought process before he executes crippling blows to his opponents. It is about as violent as the first film, but those movie goers who don’t like to hear bones crackling and sometimes disturbing take downs will want to take a closer look at the film before watching it. Mild language, I can only remember a scene where “bastard” is used twice within a minute, but other than that the language is kept at a minimum and easily forgotten. As for sexual content, these films have only resorted to it in a comedic sense, and usually surrounds Holmes’ innocence on the subject. In this film we see less than half a dozen homosexual references, because modern scholars today think they can assume that Sherlock Holmes must have been gay because he never showed an interest in women. Downey Jr.’s Holmes appears to have a romantic but competitive relationship with Rachel McAdams’ Irene Adler, however he halfway through the film mentions his “relationship” with Watson, but corrects himself a moment later with “partnership.”

There is hardly any religious themes in this film compared to the first Holmes, but there is the political strain of anarchists being actively present in Europe. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a first-rate film with excellent acting and a rousing conclusion, but lacks the story that Conan Doyle would have created. For this minor setback and for some of the mild language and gay jokes, I give it 2.5 tiaras.