Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows review

Director Guy Ritchie and the gang from the 2009 franchise kickoff return with a lackluster sequel that obviously aims to serve as safe family fare this holiday season.  The villain this time around is classic Holmes baddie Moriarty (Jared Harris) who engages with Sherly in a battle of wits that takes them on a tour of late 19th century Europe (the actual plot involves the evil professor’s desire to incite a world war and profit off of the resulting industry).  Dr. Watson (Jude Law) is getting married, the sneaky Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) is up to her old tricks, Noomi Rapace (the lead from the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series) appears as a French gypsy, and Robert Downey Jr. does his thing complete with ridiculous costumes and witty banter.  There’s a surprisingly underplayed death, an unsurprisingly overplayed false death (or two), and a narrative that forgoes the clever placement of clues in favor of intricate flashback sequences that solve unintroduced mysteries in minute detail.  Audiences are thus limited to watching a chess match rather than being invited into a traditional whodunit, which isn’t actually all that bad as the approach allows for the unintentionally humorous psychic showdown between the quick-witted rivals in an awkward round of What If

With a dull opening scene that fails to incite excitement amongst viewers concerning the two hours that follow (also see this year’s Pirates… film), Holmes 2 constantly relies on Ritchie’s visual talents to hold the attention of the fidgety.  The director once again fills the screen with the sleuth’s overstylized precognitive visions, CG renderings of the inner workings of anitquated weaponry, and those strange quick-slow-quick-quick-slow action sequences.  The film assumes that murky color scheme of deep blues and impenetrable blacks that seems to pass as “style” for Hollywood execs these days.  Worth a watch with the family, but if you’re looking to escape the uncomfortable confines of your holiday home then go see The Descendants or one of the other worthwhile films currently playing in a theater near you.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens in Philly-area theaters today.

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

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