When it came to the first Sherlock Holmes film that came out a couple of years ago I enjoyed it a surprising amount. I expected complete rubbish but it turned out to be a fun romp with some nice nods towards the Sherlock Holmes stories without being bound by them, which, for my money, is the best way to handle an adaptation, unless you’re going to stick rigidly to the source material but what would be the point of that when so many others already have?
And so we come to the sequel A Game of Shadows, which sticks to the same formula. Nods towards the source material while telling its own story. It’s flashy and brash in it’s form, unabashedly so, and fun for it. The fight scenes slowed down and plotted out remain from the first, giving it a seemingly more intellectual air to its fight scenes, with Sherlock using his trademark intuition and intelligence to plot out move and counter-move ahead of time so when you see the fight in real time the moves that would otherwise go by in a blur have emphasis to them. There’s a lot of whizz bang for those of us with short attention spans and plenty of humour and a few laughs, too.
As for the plot, well that’s twisty, as you’d expect. John Watson is still trying to get married, while Sherlock is still pursuing the trails and plots of Professor Moriarty. Along the way Irene Adler and Mycroft show up to help move the plot along. We also have Sim, a gypsy card reader who gets drawn in to the plot. So we have bombings, politics and business and in the middle of it all James Moriarty some how pulling all the strings and Sherlock obsessively pulling on the threads to see what leads where. And at the centre of it all the relationship of Watson and Holmes which the whole thing hangs on. Which may be where it succeeds or fails for you, if you enjoy the central relationship, then for all the humour, warmth and arsekicking between them you will enjoy this film. If you don’t like that then that will probably be the downfall of the film and it will be worth nothing.
For me it was fun and enjoyable, the action was well done, if overblown at times. The humour was mostly on the mark but some fell flat. The story, well as I said, when hung over the characters it was enough, but if you don’t like the characters then it will fail you. Judging from the reaction of the audience around me, for the most part, it hit the mark and it seemed like people were enjoying it. I can understand some of the criticisms it’s getting though I don’t share them at all. I really did enjoy the two hours sat there in the dark with this film. If you didn’t like the first you won’t like this one either as it’s more of the same, but if you enjoyed it then this is worth the price of admission.