3 1/2 Couches
Everyone I spoke to about Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows said the same thing, “If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one.” So what did I think? I think if you liked the first one you’ll like this one but I also think this one is better.
Both movies require the viewer to understand and accept that this is an interoperation of Sherlock Holmes. It doesn’t attempt to be a painstakingly accurate recounting of the Arthur Conan Doyle books. I have a problem when history is misrepresented by a movie based on a historical event but I have no issue with a modern take on a classic character.
Furthermore, most of the reviews that complain about the way Holmes is portrayed are examples of faux intellectualism anyway. They assume it sounds like a smart thing to write so they write it. Once you get past any preconceived notions about the character of Holmes these movies are just plain fun.
Yes, the movies are quite similar but not in a bad way. Game of Shadows brought all of the successful elements of the original and improved the deficient ones. The main difference was in pacing. While there is only a one minute difference in run time, Game of Shadows felt much shorter as the original suffered from stretches of inactivity.
The story is good enough to keep the viewer interested but the real draw of the film is Robert Downey Jr. and his portrayal of Holmes. Regardless of what is taking place within the procedural framework of the film, the chemistry between Holmes and Watson (Jude Law) makes the movie. I suspect I enjoyed this more than the first because I already had a context for the relationship from the first film. While it may bother some fans for me to say that the film is about that relationship between Holmes and Watson, I find it a testament to the work being done by Downey Jr. and Law.
Call me a sucker, but I still like the sequences in which Holmes thinks his way through a fight and then executes his plan. I know many critics were bothered by this in the first film. Criticisms like that are the reason why average moviegoers find critics pretentious. Those scenes are cool, and that is all there is to it. Game of Shadows also throws in a couple of nice wrinkles as we see that Holmes can’t always plan for every variable in a fight.
As I always say, there are a multitude of elements that combine to make a film bad or good but one should never overlook whether or not they had fun. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching Game of Shadows and that always counts for something.