December 7, 2023

DVD Catchup: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

by Robert Lucas

A film deserving of its title

I’ll be honest, at first I was apprehensive about leaving the original great detective in the hands of Downey and Ritchie. But after the success of the first film, all the critics were silenced, because like it or not, it was a good film. So does this sequel leave one clue too many?

When I first saw the adverts for A Game Of Shadows I began to panic, because in the advert we are quite clearly shown Professor Moriarty, in all his glory. ¬†This made me panic because one of the things I liked about Sherlock Holmes was the care that was taken in concealing the identity of Moriarty, making him a man of mystery. It felt like Ritchie was too keen to show his best cards first. However by the time the title for the movie came up, all my fears had dispersed ; this version of Moriarty doesn’t care if you can see him or not, because he will still win.

I would like to give all the compliments to Robert Downey Jr. and say that this once again is his movie, but I can’t. A Game Of Shadows belongs to Jared Harris, and James Moriarty. This is Harris’s greatest challenge to date and he steps up perfectly, the bar is set high and he reaches it with ease, making what should be difficult, look easy. Jared’s performance is nothing short of hypnotic, however one of the things that I like about A Game Of Shadows is that Ritchie knows that more is less, and so at no point do you feel as if Moriarty is being over used, as all the character’s screen time is used sparingly.

For A Game Of Shadows, Ritchie has opted to take a slightly different approach to his movie. He knows we remember Sherlock Holmes and uses that knowledge to his advantage, but as soon as the movie starts Ritchie makes it clear that all bets are off, that in this film anything could happen, and it does. A Game Of Shadows has one of the strongest and best climaxes I’ve ever seen in a film.

But interestingly enough that isn’t what makes A Game Of Shadows good. It’s hard to argue that if the film had a different ending it wouldn’t be half as good, because that finale really is one of the best things I’ve see on screen all year. It perfectly articulates how equal Moriarty and Holmes are, I won’t say any more than that. But it’s not the ending that makes the film, oddly in this sequel it is the relationship between Holmes and Watson that is most important. Showing the deep levels of love that each have for the other is what brings the film up to a level of greatness.

I should say somewhere that the interactions between Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and Sherlock are just fun. The childish bickering is wonderful to see and Stephen Fry is a great choice for a foil to Robert Downey Jr.

Speaking of Jr. you can tell that this is the part that he enjoys most of his whole career, you can see he has a passion and love for Sherlock on a personal level; he is supported well by Jude Law and most of the other cast remain the same, however it’s a shame that Eddie Marson is back to being in films for 5 minutes at a time, and i’m not too sure if Noomi Rapace is as great as everyone makes out, now that she has shed her tattoo.

All of this makes for a very enjoyable and fun film, A Game Of Shadows isn’t quite as clever as Sherlock Holmes but it is an all round stronger movie, see it.


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