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Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game Of Shadows

A review.

Against Watson’s preferences, he and Sherlock Holmes join forces again to bring down Dr. James Moriarty, a university professor with no moral compass who wants to ignite a global war. He has the potential to outsmart the titular Holmes with an ability to predict every move with full accuracy.

The first Sherlock Holmes movie from Guy Ritchie was a breath of fresh air for a character that had run out of steam. Robert Downey Jr injected mania and paranoia in to him while the writers’ instilled a complex web of foes and allies alike, along with frenetic violence to boot. Not to mention some unexpected homoeroticism.

Against all the traditions of a sequel, A Game Of Shadows actually manages to better the first film. Downey Jr is funnier than ever, delivering his lines with so much rapidity and spontaneity that it almost feels like everything he says is improvised. Jude Law, as Doctor Watson, has got married and adds to the laughs tenfold when his honeymoon is cut short by a dragged up Holmes. Speaking of which, Downey Jr makes for an unsurprisingly awful woman.

On the subject of this, which is just another of his manic disguises, there are some genuinely worrying moments of sexual tension between the two leads. Worrying, because as soon as they’re given the tiniest of chances they’re inadvertently on top of one another in an uncompromising position. It’s difficult to dissuade a wanting for them to just get on with it and fulfil their pent up sexuality. But alas, they jump off each other in the name of solving conspiracies and getting the bad guy.

And what a bad guy Jared Harris makes of Moriarty. He makes a welcome change from the rent-a-villain of the first film, with enough subtlety and quiet insanity to make not only everyone in the film worry for their safety, but everyone in the cinema too. He projects fear without ever having to utter a word.

Although, despite the film’s limitless achievements there are inevitably a couple of niggles. The heavy use of slowmo and distorted sound to stylise the action sequences is, while very beautiful and well crafted, often distracting – more so than the first film. And despite the big budget there is some pretty dodgy CGI. This is most notable during the waterfall sequence in the climax, which looks like it was shot in 3D and then flattened to 2D.

Aside from that though, this is a vast improvement on the first film. It truly is the gayest non-gay film ever made, with Holmes and Watson’s dance sequence comically (but tastefully) mirroring William Dickson’s experimental sound film of 1894 where two men danced intimately to a violin.

The film is as close to perfect as Guy Ritchie’s ever going to get.


Words: Matt Brigden

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