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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Robert Downey Jr
Jude Law
Noomi Rapace
Jared Harris
Stephen Fry.
Directors
Guy Ritchie.
Screenwriters
Running Time
128 minutes

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
The swinging detective


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Plot
As a spate of anarchist bombings rips through Europe, Holmes (Downey Jr.) intercepts a letter that leads him to a mysterious gypsy girl (Rapace) and the brilliant Professor Moriarty (Harris). Meanwhile, Watson (Law) endeavours to get married...


Review
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
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Breezing into their next case, Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law unapologetically stick to the formula. This robust sequel doesn’t gaze intently at its navel, or require you to have boned up on a bewildering mythos or, God forbid, go darker. There is very little sense of personal growth at all in Holmes’ case. Events will sprawl from London to Paris, Germany and a well-known waterfall in the Swiss Alps, with the same gung-ho spirit of a steampunk Bond, while doffing its cap to Hitchcock and the Wachowski siblings. The set-pieces are a mix of marvels and overkill: with dick-swinging braggadocio the film keeps introducing bigger and bigger guns. What has changed is the villain.

He avoids the gurning war paint, but Moriarty is Sherlock’s Joker: a crook as indomitable as the hero. Far from lurking in the shadows, he takes centre stage. Through a series of confrontations, Holmes and his nemesis play a literal and metaphorical game of chess. There is no need for the flashy distraction of a ten-ton guest star: Jared Harris, purring over his inscrutable plans (his voice a luxuriant echo of his late father’s gravel-bed brogue), creates a Moriarty of diabolic grace — as poised as his opponent is jittery.

Downey Jr.’s antic Sherlock will still rattle the purist, but he is executing a worthwhile gambit: to both send up Arthur Conan Doyle’s solemnity and celebrate it. He remains a postmodern contraption: droll superhero (chief power: mind-mapping), wag, clown, geek and an old-fashioned romantic hero who ranks higher than the effects. Where Jack Sparrow sank beneath spaghetti plates of inedible plot, Downey Jr.’s libertine ’tec lives for the infernal case. The point is not to fret if you can’t quite catch the plot’s drift. Our view is Watson’s — you’re not supposed to have figured it out, leave that to Holmes.

Ritchie’s witty technique of roving through Holmes’ brain waves — be they fight moves (of which there are an exuberant and slightly overbearing number) or swatches of uncanny detection — is now the primary visual mechanic. A breathlessly long-winded action sequence, as Watson tries to begin his honeymoon only for his best man to throw his wife off the train, becomes a Russian doll of Holmes’ ingenious schemes-within-schemes. Clockworking back and forth in time, these flo-mo montages of deduction are a riff about filmmaking itself — the ability to warp time and reshuffle story in the edit suite. Even more than its predecessor, the sequel plays on its high-wire contradiction: a big, dumb action movie about mind-boggling cleverness — a paradox compounded by the casting of know-it-all Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, who plays Stephen Fry with aplomb.

Noomi Rapace is the film’s only non-starter. It’s not her fault, poor girl; gypsy minx Sim is neither feisty nor particularly sympathetic, and isn’t even offered any romance. She just hangs around. Rachel McAdams, who returns briefly as treacherous Irene Adler, did more with less first time around. Of course, the true inamorata for Downey Jr.’s part-deranged Holmes remains Jude Law’s straight man — the sturdy Watson. It’s proving a decent role for the actor, who squeezes in a touch of sensitivity to the tension of a sensible man fighting the irresistible lure of adventure. Their bromance gathers steam, homoeroticism now less a subtext than extended routine in which Sherlock even dons full drag. While never giving in to parody, Game Of Shadows has the jovial detachment of self-mockery. Ritchie is convinced of something the ranks of blockbuster-makers seem to have forgotten — fun is not a dirty word.


Verdict
A sequel confident in what it's about - bigger, better, funnier, without stretching the joke.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Empire Star Rating

Really funny and clever

Better than the first really funny and great script and excellent action scenes and brill bad guy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rcrofty7 at 18:20, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post


Batter than the First

Loved it. A step up from the first. Great bad guy. Same excellent rapport between Law and RDJ. Top action scenes and SFX. And fairly clever plotting with some great dialog if you ask me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 17:01, 23 July 2012 | Report This Post


Guy Ritchie's second instalment in the Sherlock Holmes franchise packs a bigger kick, a better outcome and a more inventive narrative than the first film, giving a promising gap for a trilogy. Noomi Rapace warmly fits in with the unlikely duo of Watson and Holmes, once again portrayed effortlessly by Jaw and Downey, Jr - flaunting their comic chemistry in the toughest of situations. An easy watching film that can be loved by all and held closely to fans of Conan Doyle's classics. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 17:45, 02 June 2012 | Report This Post


It handles the Sherlock Vs Moriarty better than the TV series is all im saying...

Sure it lacks the thrill and intelligent mystery solving that is familiar with many Sherlock adaptations but this is entertaining blockbuster fun with an ending and a villain that arguably trumps Moffat's effort. In fact the awesome climax of the film is the best bit and moves this in my opinion from three to four stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 23:45, 01 June 2012 | Report This Post


Hugely Entertaining Sequel!

I found Game of Shadows improves on Guy Richie's original and makes for a hugely entertaining adventure with plenty of great action scenes and good laughs to keep it rolling along at a nice pace. Clearly some people on here were bored but I'm not sure if they were watching the same film as this is far from boring. Yes the BBC series is great but in my opinion Downey Jr makes for a more likeable Holmes than Cumberbach's stuck up and arrogant incarnation! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dannyfletch at 11:20, 22 May 2012 | Report This Post


Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review

To say this film is funnier, and better, than the original is an overstatement. This film has a slow beginning, with continuous banter between Holmes and Watson that felt stretched out by the end of the first film. However the film does pick up in the second half with their arrival in Switzerland. But as usual, a sequel that I personally feel failed in comparison to the original. But my opinion may be clouded because of the superiority of BBC's Sherlock. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DaleLawson at 14:21, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


not as good as first

not as good as first ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by david hayes at 04:43, 13 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE:

Went in with high hopes, expecting an improvement on the already good first movie. I came out deciding whether it should garner **1/2 or ***. For me, this JUST scraped ***. The handful of scenes with Holmes and Moriarty were fantastic - Two equals facing off against each other. The dialogue during those excahanges was great. If only the rest of the movie had been up to that standard.. The stuff with Irene Adler was pretty throwaway, and gave me the feeling that the actress only turned up out... More

Posted by film man aidy at 20:33, 12 January 2012 | Report This Post


by the way bozo bond has nothing on the powers of deduction of the amazingly talented sherlock holmes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marvelite at 18:14, 11 January 2012 | Report This Post


by the way bozo bond has nothing on the powers of deduction of the amazingly talented sherlock holmes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marvelite at 18:14, 11 January 2012 | Report This Post


as good as if not even better than the first. jude law and Downey jr make an excellent team. the sherlock holmes films are the only films thet guy ritchie has done that were not flops. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marvelite at 18:12, 11 January 2012 | Report This Post


as good as if not even better than the first. jude law and Downey jr make an excellent team. the sherlock holmes films are the only films thet guy ritchie has done that were not flops. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marvelite at 18:12, 11 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Repeat post ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bozo at 17:24, 06 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

Is it me or did Guy Ritchie made a Bond film set in the past? ... More

Posted by bozo at 17:23, 06 January 2012 | Report This Post


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

I hadn't seen the original before this one, and now I don't want to. I was soooo bored watching this and I'm amazed by all the positive reviews and comments. As artilleryman said, the BBC's Sherlock is way better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jack'sSmirkinRevenge at 11:01, 03 January 2012 | Report This Post


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....

I hadn't seen the original before this one, and now I don't want to. I was soooo bored watching this and I'm amazed by all the positive reviews and comments. As artilleryman said, the BBC's Sherlock is way better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jack'sSmirkinRevenge at 10:45, 03 January 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Is it just me...

Excellent film.A great screen duo with decent chemistry.Smart,snappy and entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by theEqualiser at 18:58, 02 January 2012 | Report This Post


Is it just me...

...or did this film have exactly the same plot as The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen film (Spolier: Moriarty as the villain, creating war for financial gain)? The only difference was that Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows was very, very good! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MarkL1977 at 16:22, 02 January 2012 | Report This Post


wait's over

to all those mental midgets who consider this to be even remotely resembling anything to do with Sherlock Holmes, the BBC's excellent Sherlock is back on tonight at 8.10pm showing us all how the stories can be done properly with a modern outlook. Tune in. You might learn something. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by artilleryman at 13:14, 01 January 2012 | Report This Post


A Game Of Shadows

The game is afoot dear Sherlock fans in "A Game Of Shadows." Guy Ritchie joins forces with Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law on yet, another mysterious adventure, Stephen Fry and Noomi Rapace are also in the hunt, Elementary. The partnership between Watson & Holmes is so believable, in fact; Watson cant attend his own honeymoon, due to the antics that they both get up too. Professor James Moriarty played by Jared Harris might be a powerful individual, with the same methods as... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 18:28, 31 December 2011 | Report This Post


A Game Of Shadows

The game is afoot dear Sherlock fans in "A Game Of Shadows." Guy Ritchie joins forces with Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law on yet, another mysterious adventure, Stephen Fry and Noomi Rapace are also in the hunt, Elementary. The partnership between Watson & Holmes is so believable, in fact; Watson cant attend his own honeymoon, due to the antics that they both get up too. Professor James Moriarty played by Jared Harris might be a powerful individual, with the same methods as... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by deppfanatic at 18:28, 31 December 2011 | Report This Post


Better than the first?

After the brilliant first film I wasn't sure that it could be topped but I think Ritchie might just have done it with this sequel. It's definitely as good as the first if not better. The Holmes and Watson banter is superb again and the pairing of Downey Jr and Law just works! The action sequences are fantastic as well and the film moves along at a fair old pace. The final showdown with Moriarty was a wee bit disappointing if I'm being picky but otherwise a class film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trueborndjross at 14:30, 31 December 2011 | Report This Post


Sherlock

Stonking film; without question 4 stars and so very nearly 5. Excellent film well worth watching....Enjoy..... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by HERMES_67 at 19:44, 29 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

L: Vadersville L: Harry John Even better than the first one! Goodness, I LOVE the Final Problem reference at the end! :D lutley! I just wish they had left it a little more ambiguous after that. Have Watson ... type the ? mark. sp; Agreed.  It would have been better if they'd left it more open, instead of resetting the Status Quo. Overall I enjoyed it, especially the chess and non-fight fight scene.  Occasionally it did feel a bit long, I'm torn between 3 and 4 s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Invader_Ace at 09:50, 29 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE:

I really liked it.  Better than the original because the villain was a match for Holmes.  The chess scene at the end was very compelling viewing, top stuff.  Though it does become a problem when you have a character like Holmes/Batman/Superman, you can make the villains as despicable as you like (I'm thinking Moriarty and Heath's Joker) but you still have a sense that the film will go all ''Hollywood'' and hero will make it through relatively unscathed.  Minor gripes, but th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SWOTBM at 22:59, 28 December 2011 | Report This Post


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