In pursuit of his most dangerous adversary yet, Professor James Moriarty, detective Sherlock Holmes must breakup his trusty sidekick Watson's Honeymoon plans in hopes of enlisting his aid on a journey that could very well prevent or ignite a world war.
Sherlock Holmes is a character Hollywood has been trying to reinvent for years now, but Conan Doyle's sultry detective hasn't been foremost in people's minds these past couple decades so it took a back shelf for quite some time. But with Christopher Nolan's reinventing of another brilliant detective, came Guy Ritchie's turn to do the same. There was a lot riding on the first Sherlock film (which could have easily bombed like so many other re-imaginations), but much to many people's surprise it was a big hit. The ending prodded at a sequel that would pit Holmes against arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty, and low and behold we got exactly that...sort of. The real question is does it live up to the first one and for me it was a mixed bag.
I saw the early trailers for the film as a red flag, mainly because there really didn't seem to be much happening. Sure, there were a couple choice words between Holmes, Moriarty and Watson, but they weren't nearly enough to get the blood pumping. There were numerous explosions and slow motion shots, but when it came right down to it I was hoping for more. Even the final sequence, a joke between Holmes and Watson, was only remotely funny (and wasn't even in the film I might add). The film itself is fun, but I do have two very large complaints, the first being the film's length and pace. With all the explosions and fighting in the trailer, you'd think this was an adrenaline packed powder keg...but you'd be mistaken. There are some great action sequences here, mainly the train and gun battles but these scenes get lost in unnecessary storylines as our two main characters interact with gypsies, street thugs and Holmes' eccentric brother.
For starters, these aforementioned characters are unnecessary and do relatively nothing to further the main plot. Noomi Rapace was awesome in the original GIRL WITH THE DRAON TATTOO flicks, but sadly she's quite useless here. The same can be said of Holmes' brother (and his ridiculous nude scene). So many other aspects of the film relied upon the old "if it ain't broke (and made us a ton of cash the first time) don't fix it" method that the addition of these weak characters really came out and slapped me in the face. They kept in the martial arts aspect of Holmes fighting style (which to some fans is debatable but I loved), but they went all Michael Bay on the explosions and slow motion end of things though. It was still cool (the woods scene especially) but felt a little overdone this time. The storyline itself wasn't nearly as intricate or grandiose as the first one, nor was the piecing together of the puzzle at the end, but make no mistake, the end conflict between Holmes and Moriarty is phenomenal. I've heard it referred to as "Bond-esque" and I would certainly have to agree, that castle retreat in the mountains is in itself breathtaking.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS may drag its heels at times whilst relying a little too heavily upon old tricks, but rest assured this is still a good flick and that's mostly due to Robert Downey Jr. RDJ came back to the game with KISS KISS BANG BANG (which you NEED to watch it if you haven't) and then fully rocked the world with both his Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes personas. His witty charisma is a welcome treat in Hollywood and has me rooting for the guy tenfold. Jude Law also comes back in style, but the "piece de resistance" here is Jared Harris as Moriarty. That said, though the end conflict (and few key pieces of dialogue building up to it) are indeed memorable, the film got drastically lost in the not so important details when it should have focussed more on this interesting rivalry. On a side note, Rachel McAdams' character deserved better as at least she felt like she belonged in this story. Sequels in this genre were starting to do so well there for awhile, but this and say, IRON MAN 2 (not to pick on RDJ) are two examples of Hollywood dropping the ball. I'm still game for more HOLMES down the road but let's hope they go big or go home for round three.