Sunday, January 08, 2012

Review: "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows"

On January 5 I attended the press screening of "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" at Glorietta Cinema 3 for Official PEx Movie Reviews. Thank you once again to Pinoyexchange

The first Sherlock Holmes movie pulled off a surprise with its interesting yet different take of the legendary character. While some viewers disapproved the movie's portrayal of Holmes, it still managed to win the hearts of the general audience thanks to remarkable performances and fun dynamics from the cast. This time around Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows introduces Holmes' greatest adversary: Professor James Moriarty, which automatically raises the stakes and expectations. The movie is definitely larger in scale but it was bogged down by not giving an essential element of the story the treatment it deserves.

After Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) successfully stops one of James Moriarty's (Jarred Harris) schemes, he becomes the hot target of the brilliant but mad professor. Holmes finds out soon that Moriarty plans to kill his newly-wed friend Watson (Jude Law) and his wife out of vengeance but he was able to save them in time. Watson then joins Holmes to uncover Moriarty's evil plan that could potentially cause a war. In the process, they meet a gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace) who is the key to solve the case.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens on a strong note with a fun-that-became-intense-later-on sequence which involves Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). That particular sequence explains why the main female character of the previous installment has a small, albeit important, role in this sequel. The opening sets up the movie's tone well but it took quite a time to establish the threat and what is at stake. It's actually alright for them to take that approach since the main character is a detective after all but unfortunately that's the part where the movie hit a snag. There's not much detective work in this story and the movie just conveniently situated set pieces for it to progress. Sure, we still see a glimpse of Holmes' brilliant mind like the way he anticipates every blow of a fight before the first punch is thrown or the tactics he used to take the bad guys down unwittingly by themselves but it all felt too studied and forced. Moriarty's “evil plan” is not compelling as well and it was evident in the middle of the story in which the movie struggled in keeping a narrative momentum.

Downey and Law still carried the movie very well and their actions and banter are always a delight to watch. The casting of Jarred Harris as Moriarty was also perfect. Harris did a great job and exudes menace effortlessly without going over the top. The “chess showdown” between Moriarty and Holmes in the last act of the movie was riveting and almost made up for the movie's shortcomings. Also a standout is Stephen Fry who played Holmes' brother Mycroft as he managed to make his short scenes shine. McAdams presence is missed here and Rapace didn't leave that much of an impression which is not her fault since the character she played is weakly-conceived. Justify Full

Ultimately Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is very entertaining movie with its good cast and polished production making it worth the watch but the lack of inquisitive detective work takes the movie down the level of a typical action flick only set in the 19th century and that's quite a shame because Sherlock Holmes stories should be more than that. 7 / 10

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows opens today (January 8) in theaters nationwide

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