Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows (2011) – A Movie Review

This sequel to the previously reviewed 2009 movie “Sherlock Holmes” has actors Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law returning as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson.  And Rachel McAdams, Kelly Reilly, Geraldine James and Eddie Marsan also reprise their roles as, respectively, Irene Adler, Mary Watson, Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade.

The plot of this movie is once again an original story but it does add in elements from one particular Arthur Conan Doyle story namely, the “The Adventure of the Final Problem.”  This is the story in which Arthur Conan Doyle arranges the final showdown between Holmes and his nemesis Professor Moriarty.  And this story covers what was in the written story but adds much more in the way of motivation for the duel to the death between Holmes and Moriarty.  And the writers manage to link the story to the greater reality of this time period.  They tie Moriarty’s evil plot to the actual fact that in 1900 Europe is on the precipice of World War.  The movie even has Moriarty explicitly chide Holmes with the bitter reality that even if he eliminates Moriarty, it still will not stop the coming war.

I’m happy to say that the dash and humor from the first movie are on clear display in this second film.  The camaraderie between Holmes and Watson are undiminished even after Dr. Watson finally marries Mary.  In fact, the occasion of the honeymoon provides one of the most comical scenes in the movie with Holmes dressed as a woman attempting to save the newlyweds from imminent death on a train packed with assassins.

I won’t attempt to synopsize the plot.  It would sound like nonsense and I refuse to spoil the details of the plot.  Suffice it to say that Holmes and Watson traipse across Europe attempting to catch up to the plot that Moriarty has set in motion.  And Jared Harris who portrays Professor James Moriarty is a great villain.

As with the preceding movie I have the highest praise for this film.  All the principal parts are brilliantly acted.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well-made entertainment film.  And just to add an interesting note, ten years after this movie the producers have finally had the opportunity to film another sequel.  I look forward to that movie with great anticipation.

Sherlock Holmes (2009) – A Movie Review

Guy Ritchie directed this 2009 update of the Sherlock Holmes legend but instead of re-doing one of the Arthur Conan Doyle stories he re-imagined the characters and wrote a screenplay that gives a sort of steam punk feel to the outing.  Robert Downey Jr. is Holmes and Jude Law is his partner in crime detection and chronicler, Dr. Watson.  On the face of it these two men would seem to be completely miscast in these roles.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The script combines equal parts comedy and action adventure.  And both Downey and Law play the parts as if they were born to the roles.  The bickering friendship that they portray is as important a part of the movie as the nefarious doings of the evil Lord Blackwood and the barely glimpsed Professor Moriarty.

The plot involves the resurrection from the dead of a hanged man, Lord Blackwell who engaged in satanic rituals and is linked to a powerful masonic secret society in London.  All sorts of strange goings on have baffled Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard and with the sometimes assistance, sometimes sabotage by Holmes’ femme fatale, Irene Adler and the reluctant presence of Watson’s fiancée, Mary Morstan, they pursue the truth behind the unbelievable return from the dead of Lord Blackwell and discover and attempt to foil his devious plot to gain control of the world.

I am a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories and I’ve watched all the previous cinematic versions, the Basil Rathbone movies and the Jeremy Brett series by Granada Television.  I don’t take anything away from these older series but what Guy Ritchie has created is a new and highly entertaining take on the characters.  You can probably tell that I am highly enthusiastic about this film and the also excellent sequel.  The chemistry that Downey and Law have on the screen is marvelously entertaining and must be a combination of their acting skills and the truly excellent script and direction.

I wholeheartedly recommend this movie to fans of Sherlock Holmes, to action-adventure fans and to movie fans of all stripes.  Find it and watch it.