Sherlock Holmes' greatest battle

Dec. 19, 2011, 10:18 p.m. | By Richard Chen | 12 years, 7 months ago

Sherlock Holmes meets his match against his arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty

What happens when the unstoppable force, Professor Moriarty, meets the immovable object, Sherlock Holmes? We will never know until the very end. Like its 2009 prequel, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," directed by Guy Ritchie, captivates the audience and brilliantly brings to life two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest characters in an epic battle.

The movie starts off with Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) connecting cases of high-profile murders throughout Western Europe to the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). Needing the help of his trusty companion Dr. Watson (Jude Law) and his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry), Holmes goes on a mission to find and protect a fortune telling gypsy who knows the key to stopping Professor Moriarty's plans. As more and more people start trailing the team, it is up to Holmes to decipher what Moriarty is planning and who is going to be his next target.

For those who enjoyed the ingenuity and the smart dialogue of the first Holmes film, "A Game of Shadows" is a brilliant sequel that perfects this style of directing and surpasses the audience's expectations. Every time Holmes is put in a predicament that seems near impossible to wriggle out of, it is a thrill to see him nonchalantly brush it off and think one step ahead of everyone else. For every "cloak and dagger" situation, Holmes goes above and beyond to surprise the audience with his complex plans.

Like the previous film, "A Game of Shadows" utilizes astounding slow-motion effects that contend with the production value in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "The Matrix." The slow downs of cannon shells ripping through trees or bullets grazing Holme's clothes allow the audience to stand back and breathe in the fast-paced action. Not only that, but at points where the plot seemed overwhelming to follow, the audience is given a slow-motion peek of Holmes's thought process.

Acting-wise, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law did a tremendous job playing the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. However, something that was unique to the sequel is the introduction of the characters' relationships.

In "A Game of Shadows," Professor Moriarty is introduced as a character that is just as brilliant and clever as Holmes, making Holmes feel baffled and outsmarted for the first time. Throughout the film, Holmes and Moriarty are locked in a battle of wits and seeing these two intellectual giants go head-to-head is awe-inspiring.

The relationship between Holmes and Watson is also interesting to watch because there is tension that needs to be resolved between the two. When Watson gets married early on in the film, Holmes feels a shred of loneliness that their adventures might finally be over. During the film, they get into numerous fights about their friendship and it is only until one of them almost dies that they reveal their true feelings.

However, the film is not without its flaws. The biggest gripe audiences will have with this film is its pacing. Although the traps laid out for Holmes are interesting, they leave no time to explain the plot. Half the time, Holmes and Watson are seen running towards a destination without any explanation as to why they are doing so. Because the film is very fast-paced, missing out on a sentence of dialogue could put the audience in a state of confusion until the end, when everything is explained. The movie's ending was brilliant in terms of wrapping up loose ends, but that does not excuse poor plot development.

Overall, "A Game of Shadows" is an admirable sequel that has its place in the Sherlock Holmes universe. When people look back on this film, they are going to think of this as a pure Doyle tribute that develops every character, has clever dialogue and amazing action scenes. The film has its flaws, but they do not put its overall brilliance in the shadows.

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (129 mins) is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Tags: A Game of Shadows Jude Law Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes Watson

Richard Chen. I love reviewing movies, and I think it's pretty awesome to be in a position where you can write what you're passionate about and inspire other people with it. More »

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