Tuesday, May 29, 2012

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

Wow. Just...wow. I honestly thought that the first Sherlock Holmes film was great. I didn't think it was possible to top it, after all, sequels are generally not as good as the firsts (Men In Black II is a good example of this) but here we are, a sequel better than the first! It took the first film and expanded on it, the writing is wittier and it has some great and memorable scenes.

After the events of the first film, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) goes to meet her master, Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) in order to provide more information about Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.).  Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) goes to visit Holmes after Adler is 'let go' by Moriarty. Holmes as deciphered that Moriarty is the criminal mind behind all the recent crimes in London. The second half of the narrative is that Holmes and Watson are assisting Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), a gypsy fortune teller, to find her brother Renee who is believed to have some connection to Moriarty's crimes. Holmes and Watson are also assisted by Holmes' brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and his connections.

If you recall my review of the first film, you would know that I praised Mark Strong for his role as Lord Blackwood but he is not featured in this film (for obvious reasons). In his place is Jared Harris in his role as Professor James Moriarty. Blackwood had the idea of obvious evil. One look and you can tell he is the villain. With Moriarty though, there is an unassuming look about him. The first scene that Holmes meets with Moriarty, he looks like a nice guy whose just doing his job (he's a lecturer by the way) and Jared Harris does a great job of creating this vision of Moriarty. Sherlock had Andrew Scott's completely insane, off the wall version of Moriarty which certainly was a surprise to see. It shows that Moriarty can have different interpretations and Harris definitely doesn't seem like a villain, and that's what makes him a great villain.

There is clearly chemistry between Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law which is shown through Holmes and Watson. I neglect to mention in my last review about the partnership between the two characters and how it's expressed. Similar to that of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men In Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law work off each other exceedingly well, even more so in this sequel. The relationship between Holmes and Watson was the original bromance! Oh, and on the topic of Watson, seeing him drunk is hilarious. Okay random point over...

Actually, no, the random point is not over. I have to talk about the humour of this film. Sure, the first one was funny but this one is down right hilarious. The writing is much wittier and there are some great visual gags too. Whether it be a drunk Watson, Holmes' horse or "WHOSE BEEN DANCING ON MY CHEST?!". That was only scrapping the surface of the humour in this film. It is a funny film but it's full of juxtapositions. What do I mean? Well there are lots of tense or dark moments that have at least one line of dialogue or something else that actually makes you laugh and you're not so sure if you should be laughing or not. The perfect example is the scene where Moriarty is singing in German. I don't want to go too deep into it but his singing softens what is actually happening.

Sherlock Holmes:\A Game of Shadows is a perfect sequel to the excellent first instalment. The only problem I find is that it's only for those who have watched the first film. While there is little reference to the continuity, the reveal of Moriarty is excellent and considering how he was shown in the last film, it's great to see him properly and also the characters of Irene Adler and Lestrade (Eddie Marsan). I have almost nothing but praise for this. The acting is great, the casting is well done, the action is epic and is full of suspense that leads to hands down my favourite ending to a film ever.

It's bigger, funnier and better than the first. A tremendous film that could qualify for best adaptation of all time.

Also I didn't need to see Stephen Fry naked, thank you very much...

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