Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – Oh No, Diminishing Returns

When the most formidable criminal mind in Europe is hellbent upon bringing Western Civilization to ruin, few men can be called upon to tackle the perilous situation.

Indeed, few men can foil an evil genius whose claims to infamy include orchestration of a series of bombings, complete lack of empathy and moral insanity.

Gentlemen, here again to thwart the evil forces in dire times is the peerless detective Sherlock Holmes with his reluctant sidekick Dr.Watson (dragged kicking and screaming from his honeymoon in this episode) in tow.

Like its 2009 predecessor, A Game of Shadows too is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes.

No, not the thinking man’s Sherlock Holmes but one saddled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

An irreverent parody of the famed detective by British director Guy Richie and his principal henchmen Robert Downey, Jr (Sherlock Holmes) and Jude Law (Dr.Watson).

Boy, Arthur Conan Doyle’s bones must sure be rattling in his grave at the desecration to his signature creation by his countrymen!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Disappointing

Diminishing Returns

It’s that rare movie sequel that retains the endearing magic of the original and refuses to kowtow before the all powerful God of diminishing returns.

Alas, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is not one of them.

Just two years after Sherlock Holmes hit the screen, comes Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows with its endless bedlam and manic action.

But this time, all the frenzy and frenetic action, all of the fine camera work and art direction showcasing the Victorian era with remarkable finesse and all of the superb performances fail to get the blood rushing fast to the head.

Merely a feeling that the movie was kinda ok washed over us.

Storm Clouds in Europe

The year is 1891, Europe is in boil with a wave of bombings and anarchist attacks.

France and Germany are at loggerheads and tension is in the air.

Stray as each violent incident may seem, Holmes is not deceived.

He sees the hand of one genius, the ‘Napoleon of crime’ skilfully weaving the web of violence wracking the continent but too good to leave behind any evidence.

The deadly adversary pitted against Holmes and Watson this time is Prof. James Moriarty, played with great skill by Jared Harris.

Besides Downey and Law, another familiar face Rachel McAdams is back as Irene Adler. But in too small a role to leave any impact.

Neither did the Dragon Tattoo girl Noomi Rapace make her presence felt although she had a slightly meatier role.

Stephen Fry as Holmes’ brother is brilliant.

Robert Downey is still in his swaggering element, going as far as dressing in drag to save his partner from the fusillade of bullets.

If Harrison Ford owned Indiana Jones and pirate Captain Jack Sparrow can be none but Johnny Depp, then Robert Downey is the 21st century’s sole proprietor of the 19th century Victorian detective Holmes.

Jude Law’s Watson is the perfect stable foil to the “manic verging on psychotic” Holmes.

What Went Wrong

What likely went awry with the movie is that in the endless hurly burly of action, the blur of violence, the crackling dialogs and the thrust and parry of Holmes, Watson and Moriarty, the film’s makers lost sight of the emotional connect that only a strong plot can deliver.

When the plot plays second fiddle to the endless flurry of action, the movie loses appeal quickly.

Roller-coaster rides can be wildly exhilarating the first time around. But after a few rounds nausea sets in and you long for the stability of terra firma and just wish the ride would be over.

By the way, if you haven’t seen the 2009 movie not to worry. This one stands on its own legs.

Ho-Hum Soundtrack

Adding to our displeasure was the less than attractive soundtrack.

To those familiar with Hans Zimmer’s score in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, the theme track in the sequel will come as a disappointment to his legions of fans.

The music seems like it’s just a rework of the old theme rather than fresh ouevre from a master. Rating

Your favorite blog does not strongly recommend Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

P.S.: A mere 30 people straggled in for the opening midnight show of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows at a theater on the East Coast.

4 Responses to "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – Oh No, Diminishing Returns"

  1. Naveen   December 16, 2011 at 5:30 am

    Hmm.. too bad!

    Please check your email. Responds:


  2. MAK   December 17, 2011 at 4:22 am

    Hey SI, It’s Jarred Harris, not Jarred Davis. Responds:

    We must have been hacked again. 😉

    Thanks. Fixed.

    • Naveen   December 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm

      Looks like this is SI’s annual examination paper for the readers 😉

  3. kreacher   December 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    One of the most impressive takes on Sherlock Holmes I have seen in recent times is a 2010 BBC series called “Sherlock”, featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. It only had 3 episodes in the first season, but with tight stories and fabulous performances.

    It is available on Netflix Canada, so I am guessing the US version should have it too – watch it if you can.

    It is based in modern day London, so the personalities are suitably modified. Responds:

    1. Just added Sherlock to our Netflix instant queue. Will watch the three 89-min episodes this weekend.

    2. From what we hear, the new Sherlock Holmes is not setting the box office on fire.

    It looks like the audience is with us on this movie.

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