On June 12, 2012, Warner Bros. Home Video releases Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Kelly Reilly, Eddie Marsan, Geraldine James, Jared Harris, and Stephen Fry.
Picking up shortly after where the first film left off, A Game Of Shadows opens with Watson preparing for his wedding day. This means, of course, convincing Holmes he must do his duty as best man. Of course, there’s already some mischief underway, this time by some of Moriarty’s wretched minions. As a spate of anarchist bombings rips through Europe, Holmes intercepts a letter that leads him to a mysterious gypsy girl (Rapace) and the brilliant Professor Moriarty (Harris). It also takes both Holmes and Watson far from London, venturing out into various reaches of Europe, eventually to wind up at the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland for the heart-pounding climax.
Although all the characters are brought back from the first film, their are some changes, and I won’t give away exactly what happens. While Ritchie takes great liberties with the well-known Sherlock Holmes, this is nothing new. The Basil Rathbone series often took great liberties with the stories. A good part of this has to do with the process of adapting a novel to film; you can never make the two exactly the same. And there is today’s audience, who crave more action, more explosions, more intrigue, more drama, and Ritchie has succeeded in doing that quite well with this new series. He also has a bit of competition in the BBC’s latest retelling of the Holmsian myth through their updating via Sherlock. All things considered, I believe Mr. Ritchie has succeeded admirably where others might not have.
In Game of Shadows, while Moriarty emerges as Holmes’ penultimate rival, we are shown a much more vulnerable side to the detective. Stephen Fry plays Sherlock’s smarter and more conservative brother, Mycroft, a bastion of the national government. And yet, as only Fry can do, the character is shown as eccentric and even a little bit out of the ordinary as he walks around his apartment in the altogether while keeping the newlywed Mrs. Watson safe from Moriarty’s evil clutches. And Noomi Rapace is sadly underused but wonderfully engaging as gypsy princess Simza, who is somehow a missing piece of Moriarty’s puzzle of terror.
Not to worry, as Ritchie skillfully brings it all together. And Phillippe Rousselot’s cinematography is a blossoming explosion of visual energy. Against the backdrop of England, France, Germany and Switzerland, together they paint a moving image of the fantastic, punctuated at every turn by the friendly but boisterous banter of our two heroes, Holmes and Watson.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows is a terrifically fun time. Own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack or Digital Download 6.12.12.