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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

4/5

The event that fans of Sherlock Holmes, Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. have been waiting for is finally here, the sequel to the 2009 hit Sherlock Holmes has arrived in style and does not disappoint. Recent fans of Holmes have been spoilt with the recent BBC adaption Sherlock, brilliantly portraying Holmes in twenty-first century London, however it is a joy to get back to a gorgeously decorated period version, made all the better by Guy Ritchie's direction. Picking up several years after the original, the film sees Holmes battling his archenemy to prevent the 'collapse of Western civilization, his nemesis that is the cool and meticulous Professor James Moriarty, played beautifully by Jared Harris. Watson (Jude Law), now happily married, is prepared to settle down and enjoy the pleasant luxuries of life, however Holmes' nature soon causes him to be inevitably swept along, accompanied by the mysterious gypsy Sim (Noomi Rapace) in a life and death struggle to bring down one of the most fascinating criminal minds of the century. The film, like the first, is gushing with references to the original text that will satisfy the appetites of fans of Sherlock Holmes, from quotations, characters and settings, providing Ritchie's second outing with Holmes with layers of details that will please different levels of the audience. The addition of Mycroft, played exquisitely by Stephen Fry (who seems born to play the role), delves into the family background of Holmes enabling us as an audience to image the bickering childhood between the two brothers who are constantly having deduce-offs to outdo each other.

The crucial element of this film is the villain. The story needed to take Holmes to a place where he had never been before, to push him that extra bit further than Blackwood (Mark Strong) had in the first film, which character is better to do so, none other than Professor Moriarty. Jared Harris' portrayal is amazing, both he and Downey Jr. are precise and calculative in their acting, making you really feel that these two incredible minds are in a never ending war with each other. The scene when they are having a chess game without a board and remembering each position on the board has never been seen before in a Holmes and Moriarty, and is a personal favourite of mine in any adaptation I have seen. However despite the mental conflicts and the combat, it is the gentlemanly qualities of both Holmes and Moriarty, and the manner in which they can turn from admiration into loathing is a genius achievement on both their parts, and also the genius of Guy Ritchie. This is probably one of the greatest Moriarty and Holmes conflicts that we have ever witnessed, and one that will not be easily forgotten.

Overall I found the film a joy to view, the sets, music and acting where superb, and both Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law once again prove that they are a brilliantly pairing for the Holmes and Watson duo. Being a fan of Sherlock Holmes for some time, I find any adaptation intriguing to watch, and as fan of Ritchie's first film this one possibly surpasses the original and many other interpretations. Warner Brothers are in talks to produce a third instalment, which I imagine will be released in a few years, but those of you who know that the film is based on story The Final Problem will question whether Holmes will or will not return to our screens. We may have a great hiatus on our hands and have to wait many years. Either way I will welcome another adaption of Sherlock Holmes with open arms, as A Game of Shadows is Sherlock Holmes at its absolute best.

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