The law of diminishing returns need not apply to the “Holmes” series.
**** ½ out of 5
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material
Warner Bros. Pictures
Article first published as Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows on Blogcritics.
While I may not have liked anything director Guy Ritchie had directed between his smashing debut of “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and his 2009 adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes,” it wasn’t for lack of interest. I found “Snatch” to be full of contempt, aside from the squeak toy imbibing bulldog and Brad Pitt’s Pikey accent. But the less said about both “Swept Away” and “Revolver” the better. Yes, Ritchie’s Madonna years are finally far behind him. While I still need to give “RocknRolla” a second go, it still seemed to bring a sense of direction for Ritchie and return him to his roots. And if his “Holmes” sequel, “A Game of Shadows,” is of any indication, he’s here to stay.
rarity in Hollywood to broaden, deepen, and build upon what’s come before. With a few new cast members along to up the ante as well, it would appear that the “Sherlock Holmes” films can only continue to improve. I’m sure the two years it took to release a follow up shows a little dedication to the craft more than simply aiming for a cash grab.
It’s 1891 and Dr. Watson (Law) is hard at work on his latest Sherlock Holmes (Downey) adventure novel. Tension has been rising between the French and Germans, and things don’t seem to be gaining any help due to a slew of bombings. Of course, Holmes has pieced together some evidence connecting the bombings to a few circumstantial deaths thanks to a new diet of alcohol, tobacco and cocoa beans. But it’s not until after his beloved Irene Adler’s (Rachel McAdams) “services are no longer required” of the dastardly Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) that it becomes clear that Holmes may have finally met his match.
Everything works even better here than in the first film which I was particularly fond of. The action is better if not necessarily bigger. The story is nowhere near as convoluted as you’d expect yet holds some grand surprises. The laughs are more genuine and Downey’s cockney riddled accent has even been smoothed out. Yes, things are far greater than they seem in the land of sequels this weekend. While at first I was worried about the quick cut Tony Scott-stylized fight scene that opens the film, it seems like that was only to get you immediately back into the world they created the first time around. Now we get bigger set pieces where you get to really see what’s going on thanks to some stunning cinematography and editing thanks to Philippe Rousselot and James Herbert. And Hans Zimmer’s 2009 Oscar-nominated score makes a welcome return as well.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures