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7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A Worthy Adversary

Rated: PG-13 Some drug material, intense sequences of violence and of action
Release Date: December 16, 2011
Runtime: 2 hrs 9 min

Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney, characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Paul Anderson, Kelly Reilly

SYNOPSIS: As Dr. Watson prepares for his wedding day, Sherlock Holmes immerses himself in the hunt for Professor Moriarty, his most vile and intelligent adversary. As the stakes are raised and Holmes' friends are threatened, Holmes reenlists Dr. Watson's aid in the pursuit of his enemy.

REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes returns! Director Guy Ritchie returns for a follow up to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes. The writer/director of Snatch, RocknRolla, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Guy Ritchie relinquishes writing duties to a new duo of Holmes scribes, Michele and Kiera Mulroney of Ryan Reynolds' Paper Man. Will this turn for the incomparable Sherlock Holmes be elementary?
The tireless Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man) has used his detective skills since the close of the Lord Blackwood case to follow and compile a string of seemingly unrelated tragedies, deaths, and strange occurrences. All the ribbon threads from his investigations lead him back to the elusive Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris, AMC's "Mad Men"). To what end to Professor Moriarty's motives serve? As the good doctor 'ties up loose ends' to someone close to Holmes, Sherlock must quicken his pace to unravel the machinations of this most serious foe. The plot involves a gypsy woman, Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2009) that Sherlock meets during Watson's stag party. After the wedding of his associate Dr. Watson (Jude Law, Hugo), Sherlock ruins the honeymoon plans in order to save both Dr. Watson and his new bride Mary (Kelly Reilly, Eden Lake). Enter Sherlock's ironically more eccentric brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry, V for Vendetta) to aide in the efforts, as snarky and arrogant as his brother. Aiding Professor Moriarty is a former British sharpshooter, Colonel Sebastian Moran (Paul Anderson, A Lonely Place to Die).

Where Sherlock Holmes dealt with the Baker Street detective dealing with Lord Blackwood's technology masked as the occult, the sequel deals with a much more sinister plot and vile villain with Professor Moriarty. Lord Blackwood wanted to return England to its former glory and regain the American Colonies. The genius Professor Moriarty has men and women do his bidding and ultimately ends their lives when their usefulness to him runs its course, all in the pursuit to start a European war that he can profit from.

Professor Moriarty is arguably the greatest adversary to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, although he only appears in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Holmes tale, "The Adventure of the Final Problem" and mentioned in the subsequently published "The Valley of Fear". In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Professor Moriarty is ever Sherlock's equal and superior, having genius level intellect and champion boxing skills. Considered the "Napoleon of Crime" by Holmes, Moriarty is certainly his arch-nemesis, Holmes spending months collecting data and thwarting Moriarty's operations at every available turn.

A Game of Shadows focuses on the detective dance between Holmes and Moriarty, but still has time to  expand on the Watson and Holmes relationship. Like an old married couple, they nag and prod at each other relentlessly, all the while suffering in silence at the brotherly love they share and the hollowness they experience when apart. Their affection is infectious, their barbs humorous. Downey Jr's Holmes is becoming the hip version that Holmes would aspire to if not kept primarily on PBS or BBC.

The action is superb, the mix of slow motion and quick edits making for visual candy. Moriarty's master plans deserve the attention of a detective of Holmes caliber and a story set on the silver screen. Ritchie's unique vision and the Mulroneys' story make for a grander stage for Holmes and Watson to work on. Stretching much farther than the streets of London and the surrounding countryside, the sequel at times is both slower and expansive. But keeping with a formula that works from the first film, and breaking the mold whenever possible, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is worth a closer look.

WORTH: Matinee and DVD

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