I’ll start off by saying that I enjoyed Guy Ritchies first take on the Holmes character. Having the iconic detective be brought to life by the always impressive Robert Downey Jr., in amongst the fun, kinetic visuals and ideas, was an inspired choice that certainly helped elevate the ‘meh’ story. The end result cleaned up at the box office and I sure the WB executives cackled gleefully. That being said, it came as no surprise that Ritchie would be reenlisted for the inevitable sequel. Does A Game of Shadows work? Mostly. RDJ kicks ass again as the brilliant but socially awkward Holmes, who now finds himself pitted head to head against his newly discovered nemesis, the classic Professor Moriarty, a character equal in intelligence and capability to Holmes himself. The Professor has positioned himself to greatly profit from the secretly orchestrated prelude to a conflict that threatens to engulf Europe. Along the perilous way, Holmes continues his suspiciously homoerotic bromance with the beleagured Dr. Watson (Jude Law, diving headlong into the role) as they find themselves tied to a gypsy fortune teller (Noomi Rapace, not quite kicking ass in the thin role) searching for her imperilled brother; believed to be caught up in the deadly caper. The conspiracy connections, while working on the page, stray into ‘needlessly convoluted’ territory at times as the story plays out. While noticeable, there’s enough cool shit happening in any number of scenes to help gloss over the shortcomings of the script. One issue I DID have was that, while the depictions of Holmes’ analytical thought process were engrossing, his powers of deduction verge on the supernatural at times…to the point of distraction. The man is a human computer, but he can only compute what he knows. There are a couple scenes where he just seems to pick ‘evidence’ out of thin air to make a dangerous situation work in his favor; basing assumptions on ‘happenings’ he could not realistically have ANY knowledge of. But Downey Jr., pro that he is, helps ease the ‘give me a break!’ factor with the effectively nuanced and fun, tic-filled performance. Guy Ritchie continues his fascination with varying camera speeds to terrific effect here. I fully expected him to go overboard in the ‘crazy slow-mo’ dept., but he didn’t. The amount used didn’t out stay its welcome on screen and it lent an ‘added value’ quality to the gracefully violent scenes. It essentially boils down to this: If you got a kick out of the first one…this sequel will ‘tickle your fancy’. It moves at a nice clip, propelled along by enthusiastic performances and well-executed, shot and edited action scenes. The story isn’t perfect and some elements are downright ridiculous but nor is it lazy or insulting. It’s a good time ‘at the movies’. Popcorn required.
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