I will preface this review by stating that the only real reason I wanted to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows had more to do with seeing the new The Dark Knight Rises trailer and the previously mentioned The Hobbit preview. I was not disappointed with The Dark Knight Rises trailer, but The Hobbit preview apparently was non-existent (and now reported to be scheduled to show with The Adventures of TinTin). Nonetheless, I sort of liked the first Sherlock Holmes movie, so I settled into my theater seat with a free bag of popcorn and an over-priced Diet Coke.
The movie starts out with action, as to be expected with any Guy Ritchie film, but I find that I like the witty back and forth dialogue between Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes and Jude Law’s Watson the most entertaining feature of these movies. Fortunately, we are given plenty of that and the chemistry between the two actors cannot be mistaken. The writing is clever and this is where the movie truly excels.
However, it is also Jared Harris’ Moriarty that shines as the clever yang to Holmes’ yin. This character could have easily been a caricature, but thanks to a good script and Harris’ performance, this role truly stands out. In a scene near the end of the movie, where Holmes and Moriarty are battling it out in chess, the banter between the two characters creates a suspensful scene where we realize that the good guys don’t always win.
Also wonderful is Stephen Fry putting in a very “raw” portrayal of Holmes’ brother Mycroft. He is as smart as his brother, and possibly even more quirky. All I will say is that he is a brave actor who bares much more than his soul on screen. Expect to laugh. A lot.
Unfortunately , the film’s action sequences are where things start to drag. If the audience is checking their watches during scenes, it means the film is probably too long. Ritchie’s unique style with these sort of sequences just don’t work when dragged out. I think this film could have been much more exciting by putting the editors to work trimming out all the extra fat. I caught myself nodding off during the middle of the movie during one of these long sequences.
It seems to be a trend in Hollywood now that movies have to have longer running times than they did in the past. This is just not always a good thing. I would have enjoyed this one much better if it had been about 30 minutes shorter.
But I did laugh a bit and didn’t completely fall asleep, so there is that. The movie is entertaining and I did not feel cheated out of the price of the ticket.