‘Game of Shadows’ proves to be enlightening

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“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” which barreled into theaters Dec. 16, is both a smart and thrilling movie that will captivate and entertain moviegoers everywhere.

In this long-awaited sequel to the 2009 film “Sherlock Holmes,” The Great Detective and The Good Doctor face off against their most dangerous adversary yet Moriarty, a mad genius whose brilliance and knack for thinking three steps ahead may just be enough to outsmart the greatest detective who ever lived.

The entire cast is a joy to watch. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles as brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes and his ornery companion Dr. Watson, and play the roles with contagious energy and more than a little panache. They manage to convey the complicated relationship between the two men brilliantly, making the audience laugh and gasp in turn.

New on the scene is the dangerously brilliant Professor Moriarty, who posseses all of Holmes’ intelligence, along with a frightening amount of ruthlessness. Jared Harris plays him to perfection, portraying him with emotion that ranges from cooly confident to bloodthirsty to completely insane, while still managing to keep him believable.

The minor characters are nothing if not even more captivating. Noomi Rapace is quietly captivating as the gypsy fortune-teller Sim, and Stephen Fry is hysterical as Mycroft, Sherlock’s older, and notably less dignified, brother.

The dialogue is witty and interesting, and the musical score, written by Hans Zimmer, is amazing in itself. The movie itself spans for 128 minutes, but manages to keep itself fast-paced. The plot never lags, and you never get the feeling that a scene could have been left out. Indeed, you’d only be confused if they had. The complex, twisting plot is so wildly interconnected that deleting any scene would leave a gaping plot hole.

The only negative thing to be said about the film is that it may be just a bit too complex. About halfway in, one starts to lose track of who’s on Holmes’ side, who’s on the run, who’s trying to kill so-and-so, etc. However, Holmes himself “recaps” the case to Watson and Sim, covering what they know so far, and saving the audience a lot of head-scratching.

No word yet if there is another Sherlock Holmes movie in the works, but if the quality of the series continues on its current path, then good times are in store for the occupants of 221B Baker Street.

4.5 out of 5 stars.