There are so many versions of Sherlock Holmes that having “the Robert Downey Jr. one” in the mix only adds a different flavor to the character. His version is more of an action hero than problem solver (though there’s much of that too), and the latest adventure Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – directed by Guy Richie and co-starring Jude Law as Dr. Watson – is entertaining enough, and it ends well. But it feels a little routine. If the first film was clever and had more of a sense of discovery, this is just more of the same. Our review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.
With this film we finally get to Moriarty – here played by Jared Harris – and it seems that The Dark Knight has changed how “origin” stories deal with their big bad: they save it for the sequel. The film starts by showing Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) trying to deliver a bomb to someone, only to be foiled by Sherlock. It turns out she’s working for Moriarty, who Holmes knows is an evil mastermind. Dr. Watson is about to married, and Sherlock attends the bachelor party with his brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) – who is just as strange as Sherlock, though he works for the government. At the party Sherlock meets Madam Simza Heron (Noomi Rapace), who has a brother working for Moriarty. She becomes something of an ally, and then the game is afoot, but only after Watson’s wedding.
The film has a number of twists and turns that are fun, and it builds to a nice conclusion, but the best advice in watching this is stay away from the BBC show Sherlock. That TV series is such a better iteration of the character. All this has are action sequences, some of which get a bit silly (Watson blows something up that leaves the main characters in places where they are easily reached by their friends, and only kills red shirts), but are big and dumb and mostly entertaining. But having recently watched the BBC version, it took me a while into the film to finally settle in, partly because it’s Robert Downey Jr. and occasional cleverness.
Noomi Rapace has been in this and Prometheus, and between the two I’m still not sure how much of an actress she is. Here, the character has little to do but be buffer, and she doesn’t register on screen as much of a character. Even with Dr. Watson getting married, there are still more sparks between him and Holmes than anyone else. Law and Downey Jr. fall into their rhythms easily, but it just feels like they’re playing a bit of dress up. Harris would steal the film if he had a little more to do, but then – in the third act – he and Downey Jr. play a chess game where they get into mind fights, and that’s where you get the sense of how good this could be. And as both Sherlock films have been wildly successful, it’s likely we’ll see more, which the film readily sets up. Oh well, it’s a good afternoon viewing experience.
Warner Brother’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master audio. The presentation is spectacular. As Guy Richie hosted the “in movie experience” for the last film, Robert Downey Jr. is brought in for this sequel, and he seems amused and slightly annoyed to be talking about the film. He pops up throughout the film in his “In Movie Experience” and talks about the bigger set pieces of the film. There’s also still galleries accessible during the film, and “Focus Points,” which can be be viewed separately (35 min.), which go into detail about certain set pieces and characters. It’s fluffy but painless. There’s also an app, so you can be on your computer and find out factoids while you watch the film. The Blu-ray also comes with a DVD and digital copy.