Cinema died a slow and painful death in early December thanks to those sparkling vampires that shall not be named but luckily Santa came early and brought the Christmas blockbusters; the first of which being Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes as much as everyone else as it was an unexpectedly good film but the first time I viewed the trailer for the inevitable sequel it did absolutely nothing for me. The trailer was a grower and I warmed to it enough to be excited for the second instalment, although it has to be said that this was my first cinema trip of month so I was also experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
PLOT: Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Junior) takes time off from designing urban camouflage disguises in order to stop his new found arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) from starting a war between to nameless countries; suffice to say they speak both French and German. Watson (Jude Law) is getting married and Sherlock interrupts his honeymoon trip to Brighton and drags him to Switzerland (which frankly looks like something out of Middle Earth) in order to stop an impending war. Holmes and Watson are helped by Holmes’ older brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and gypsy rebel Simza (Noomi Rapace). The winner of the two hour chess game is announced. END PLOT??
For the first fifteen minutes of A Game of Shadows I was honestly worried as the pacing was ridiculously slow. The entire opening sequence consisted of a sub-plot involving Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) which added nothing to the film. Luckily the film perked up immediately after the Adler scenes ended.
If you take a step back and look at the script of Sherlock Holmes it is extremely basic. The films strength lies in its near perfect casting.
Once Holmes and Watson appeared on screen together the pacing of the film sped up, the rapport was better than the first film and the homoerotic subtext was hilariously yet purposely unsubtle.
RDJ manages to keep Holmes on the right side of ridiculous and Law deserves some sort of award for best drunken fall of the year. The banter between the two allows for some decent laughs. The line “I am so overt I am actually covert” has already been
borrowed adopted stolen as my own.
The chemistry and the strength of the bromance is the big draw in Sherlock Holmes but credit has to be given to Jared Harris who is excellent as the intelligent villain Moriarty. Harris and RDJ also have some zingy and fast paced scenes with the tension increasing with each meeting.
The battle of wits between Moriarty and Holmes stays that way and although there are some good set pieces the main show down is essentially a “Holmes Vision” construction of how a boxing brawl between the two will unfold. The “Holmes Vision” is overused throughout the film but what stops the finale from becoming repetitive is the introduction of “Moriarty Vision” in which we also are shown Moriarty’s imagining of the pending fist fight which plays in tandem with Holmes’.
The action ranges from a very decent bar fight which has a wonderful Irish Jig playing on top of it to a machine gun blasting chase through a forest.
The forest chase was chock full of slow motion shots and explosions. This set piece looked and indeed sounded amazing but the only place the scene will hold up is in the cinema itself unless I seriously upgrade my surround sound although if ever there was an excuse to do so.......
The film clocks in at just over two hours and despite the very poor opening I got what I paid to see – the Holmes and Sherlock double act. When the two were on screen together I could have sat on for hours.
The ending of the film was extremely predictable although can it really be considered predictable whenever you cannot actually see what (or who) it is you are looking for? I think it was clever and perfectly in line with the cheeky tone of the film.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows won’t be to everyone’s taste, there are faults and it is not going to win any awards but I don’t care – it was great fun and it deserves a generously festive 8.5/10. Expect the sequel to become a trilogy.