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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
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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

I am a little suprised by the number of people having a go at this film. It's clearly a clear successor to the first film with a great plot, fantastic characters and the action is mouth gapingly good. Agree it isn't perfect as Sim was underused and lacked something. Plus the slow mo got old the third time. But i feel Empire is completly justified to give it 4 stars instead of sitting on the fence and giving it 3 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheoJ at 21:33, 28 December 2011 | Report This Post


4*?

Hummm still digesting this film,but yes i was entertained,was it 4* hummm i say again?. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by satchwannad at 23:35, 26 December 2011 | Report This Post


yeah, sure

so this movie has more stars than ghost protocol. right... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by andreipopa at 23:44, 24 December 2011 | Report This Post


Four Stars Is Generous

After reflecting on the film, I can only say that you people at EMPIRE were being a little generous in the festive spirit. A Game Of Shadows was a disappointment for many a reason; Noomi Rapace's wasted character, who didn't seem to have any emotion whatsoever, the obvious fact that Holmes didn't actually seem to be solving anything, and spent more of his time practising for an MMA fight. Where's the good-old cunning we're used to seeing when he solves a puzzle? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMovieAddict101 at 17:48, 23 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

L: Harry John Even better than the first one! Goodness, I LOVE the Final Problem reference at the end! :D bsolutley! I just wish they had left it a little more ambiguous after that. Have Watson see the breathing apparatus then let him type the ? mark. ... More

Posted by Vadersville at 22:48, 22 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Even better than the first one! Goodness, I LOVE the Final Problem reference at the end! :Dk Holmes: A Game of Shadows ... More

Posted by Harry John at 07:06, 22 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I dunno... it's fun, visually exciting, the Watson-Holmes dynamic is still the selling point but... it's just not a very well made film! The plot trips al over the place, which is fine I suppose (or it would be if it wasn't, you know, based on a series of detective mysteries whose whole selling point is the unravelling of a well crafted puzzle)but now it's too ambitious, it thinks it's clever than it actually is. A flash back in the midst of a flo-mo saturated action piece to explain how Sherlo... More

Posted by matthias_sk64 at 19:40, 21 December 2011 | Report This Post


Not Elementary, My Dear Watson.......

Just came back from seeing this Film, and I thought I was going to see a MUCH better Film, especially after reading all the reviews on here. I found it to be quite boring,very silly at times, long winded, not THAT funny, and overall a real disappointment all round. The ending was quite clever though, but after over 2 hours of watching thia one, it couldn't have come quick enough for me.... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by n13roy at 19:05, 20 December 2011 | Report This Post


Jude Law's best film(s)

Jude Law has been blessed with this role of Dr Watson. The look is great, the character is funny. It's all about the banter. Ignore everything else and you'll love it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lelandmeeks at 09:19, 20 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

 Sherlock Holmes encounters again Irene Adler, a female mistress of crime who he has a love/hate relationship with, and dispatches four men following them.  A series of unrelated crimes is taking place all over Europe, and Sherlock Holmes believes them all to be the work of a certain Professor Moriarty, a criminal mastermind just as smart as Holmes.  Holmes foils Moriarty’s latest assassination attempt, and the Professor retaliates by poisoning Irene, whose feelings for Ho... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 20:44, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

L: flickoftheswitch spoiler alert, spoiler alert, spoiler alert Enjoyable but not quite as enjoyable as the first one I felt. But that could be down to the first having come out of left-field a little and me having very high hopes for this. Biggest bug I had coming out of it was why kill off Moriarty in his first appearance in this version of Sherlock Holmes? Thought Jared Harris was great, absolute brilliant nemesis for Downey Jnr. But surely any villain Holmes meets in any futur... More

Posted by musht at 18:59, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

It was tweeted that it had soft opening in the US well $40million doesn't seem that soft to me especially when you take into consideration it was the last weekend before Christmas & it took nearly double what the number 2 film took. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 09:59, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

spoiler alert, spoiler alert, spoiler alert Enjoyable but not quite as enjoyable as the first one I felt. But that could be down to the first having come out of left-field a little and me having very high hopes for this. Biggest bug I had coming out of it was why kill off Moriarty in his first appearance in this version of Sherlock Holmes? Thought Jared Harris was great, absolute brilliant nemesis for Downey Jnr. But surely any villain Holmes meets in any future sequels are going to suffer... More

Posted by flickoftheswitch at 00:13, 19 December 2011 | Report This Post


backward step

"bigger, better, funnier" says Empire -well, no actually. Neither as good or as interesting as the first one. A plot about an arms dealer trying to cause war is a very old and lazy one and neither the cast or the plot delivered. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bretty at 23:28, 18 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Not bad, much the same as the first really. They're very similar films to the Pirates franchise in many ways, given the overall comedic tone with the main character and the various action sequences sprinkled throughout the locations each clue takes them to, not to mention the similar sounding Hans Zimmer score. Easy going but forgettable entertainment, nothing more. 3/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by paulyboy at 23:24, 18 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A big step up from the first film - which left me fairly underwhelmed due to it's lack of real threat and forced romance. This ripped along at a spectacular pace, with well staged action (although the chase in the woods overdid the slo-mo) and a superbly tense showdown. RDJ was again excellent, though Jude Law had less to do than in the first film (it felt like the film was missing a proper showdown between him and the sharp shooting assassin bloke, perhaps a deleted scene for the DVD?). I thou... More

Posted by tjf00 at 15:16, 18 December 2011 | Report This Post


Brilliant

What a great follow up. Never boring, funny, great action, and an ending that's worth the wait. Glorious fun. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 14:52, 18 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

This was a great sequel!! The action was amped up, there was more and it was better. Downey and Law again fantastic chemistry. Regarding Rapace's character she wasn't given much to do because that is the nature of Holmes. There are rarely tertiary characters and certainly not love interests for our hero; it's all about Holmes and Watson and I'm delighted they've stuck to that formula. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by musht at 00:16, 18 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Really enjoyed this much in the same vein as the 1st 1 but hey if it aint broke why fix it! After a pretty poor summer Super 8, Planet Of The Apes, H.P.7 PT2 & Captain America aside it's refreshing to see a rollocking good Adventure with a great patnership of Downey Jr & Law at the helm, I think Ritchies found a good level & if I was him i'd cut out the writing & stick to the Directing. A thouroughly enjoyable 8/10 or 4* ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 14:46, 17 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

The law of diminishing returns usually states that a great first film will likely be followed by a carbon copy of a second, delivered up in lukewarm fashion. Sherlock Holmes is now one of the few franchises to buck that trend, serving a second helping that takes everything good about the original movie, amps it up, then throws in Stephen Fry for an extra dose of awesome. This was a joy from its bright opening to rousing, epic climax. Robert Downey Jr again makes for a delightfully bonkers ... More

Posted by Tony_O_Black at 12:23, 17 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Thoroughly enjoyed this one, found it a lot better than the first. A good couple of laughs dotted throughout, combined with some top notch action sequences. RDJ and Law work fantastically off one another and I thought Harris did a great job as Moriaty. Fry was a tad underwhelming, relying on his, slightly disturbingly, massive naked gut for some easy cheap giggles. I'd like to see Ritchie tackle a comic book movie next. :) 4/5 ... More

Posted by captainrentboy at 22:36, 16 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: Better than the first one.

Really enjoyed this one. Ritchie improves his direction on the first film and our two leads still retain that chemistry. Obviously these films have more emphasis on action and this doesn't disappoint with some superb set pieces. The only issues are that there isn't enough clever, puzzle solving stuff that we should expect from a Holmes story and I wasn't 100% convinced with Jared Harris' Moriarty. I felt Mark Strong played a better villain but I plan to see this again so maybe it needs more vie... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Spaldron at 14:21, 16 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

apace is the film’s only non-starter. It’s not her fault, poor girl; gypsy minx Sim is neither feisty nor particularly sympathetic, and even offered any romance.uote] I don't see why she should have to be offered romance. It's quite refreshing to see a woman in a big movie who isn't a love interest. Pity if they screwed it up. ... More

Posted by seamuso at 22:30, 15 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: BatSpider L: loafroaster The first person to gush about the BBC's overated 'Sherlock' is getting a bullet-timed punch in the chops. BC's over-rated Sherlock and chie'sated Sherlock are equally shit. hope that was a typo. ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 22:56, 12 December 2011 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

No need to compare each version - both are setting out to do very different things.  ... More

Posted by Rgirvan44 at 19:15, 12 December 2011 | Report This Post


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