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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) has always been regarded as one of the best detectives in Europe, despite his compulsive and eccentric nature. Towards the end of the first Sherlock Holmes film, we discover that Lord Blackwood was simply a pawn in a much bigger game, and that Professor Moriarty, a more intelligent and more cunning adversary, was the one responsible for the entire charade. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows pits Holmes directly against Moriarty (Jared Harris). Unfortunately for him, this case won’t be such a walk in the park. Has Holmes finally met his match?

Rather than brute strength, Moriarty is a villain who favors intelligence. As a result, he likes to watch from the background as his henchmen do the majority of the dirty work. He is a professor, after all, and must keep a low profile. Still, he’s not a man you’d want to be alone in a room with. Harris manages to create a rather intimidating foe; one you can’t help but fear. Some of the best scenes of the film come out of confrontations between Holmes and Moriarty. Put two great clashing minds in the same room and you know sparks are going to fly. He’s a man who plans every move down to the last detail. For someone who’s considered as Holmes’ greatest adversary, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

The problem with A Game of Shadows is that there isn’t enough of Professor Moriarty. Much of the film is Holmes and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) running around Europe looking for clues they already know the answers to. Holmes pretty much knows that Moriarty is behind everything. He’s just too stubborn to arrest him. He wants to play his game and beat him at it, showing that he’s the better of the two. Because of this, the film tends to drag on until towards the end. Only then do we see exactly how logistic and well planned these two thinkers are.

Like in the first film, we get to see how the mind of Holmes operates. During key moments we see his every thought play out in slow motion, sort of like a flash forward effect on what’s about to happen. It’s interesting and entertaining to watch at first but the effect soon becomes overbearing, forcing every encounter into some long drawn out mind process.

The thing about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is that there is nothing shadowy about it. Right from the start, you already have the end game in mind. There’s little to discover over the course of the film and no mystery. While first film managed to establish all the main players, A Game of Shadows unfortunately fails to develop them.

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Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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