Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows

3 01 2012

I’m not sure Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows succeeded in being the movie it was trying to be. At times, it’s a buddy comedy; at other times, it’s an action movie, or a whodunit.

Sherlock Holmes never really decides what it wants to be, and while it’s an average offering to each one of those genres, it doesn’t do much more than that.

The plot can be a little difficult to follow. Since it is set during the pre-World War I period, tensions are running high between the world powers. All it takes is one spark to start a war.

Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows Review

As we now know, that spark would be the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian archduke. But Sherlock Holmes proposes an alternate reality. What would have happened if arms dealers tried to push the world towards war early?

Sherlock Holmes stumbles right into an extricate plot designed to do just that, and it’s up to him and his sidekick Dr. Watson to prevent it from happening.

This part of the plot is a plausible concept. However, it may be the most plausible thing in the movie. The action is pleasantly ridiculous and the characters find themselves in progressively crazier situations as the movie draws on.

Being realistic isn’t always a good thing, and A Game of Shadows knows that as well as any movie of its kind.

The many disguises of Sherlock Holmes provide a lot of this entertainment. At different times in the movie, he is dressed as a woman, a mustachioed professor, and, surprisingly, a chair.

The humour is cheap, and it may not be enjoyed by everyone, but the kids (and maybe a few adults) should get some good laughs out of it.

However, it is the action that ends up taking center stage. At the turn of the century, people were using all sorts of different weapons to fight each other, including swords, Gatling guns, pistols, and their own fists. All of these weapons are used to great effect in A Game of Shadows.

The action is rarely average, and it’s kept fresh through the use of a couple of different techniques. The first technique involves high-framerate, slow motion action sequences à la The Matrix and 300.

The second is a little more unique, and is used whenever Holmes needs to plan ahead. He rehearses the predicted movements of his enemy in his mind, and the audience gets to follow his train of thought as he visualizes beating the crap out of someone, or solving some intricate puzzle.

It’s a cheap little trick, but entertaining nonetheless.

Unfortunately, as a whole, A Game of Shadows not as entertaining as it could have been, and I think it would have been better had it been twenty minutes shorter.

Sherlock Holmes A Game of Shadows Review

That’s not to say the ending is bad. The ending is actually one of the best parts of the movie. However, I have a problem with some of the scenes in between.

Specifically, the scenes between action sequences are boring, confusing and unnecessarily drawn out. Meanwhile, the bantering between characters is lifeless and the jokes are predictable.

Ultimately, the humour is flat, and there are times when the plot proceeds a little too slowly, but the creative action sequences at least partly make up for these faults.

If you liked the first Sherlock Holmes movie, then this is more of the same. For some cheap action on a holiday night, you could certainly do worse.

2.5 stars out of 5