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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Film Review

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by Carrie Tong (subscribe)
Carrie Tong studied the Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) at the University of Sydney, and is currently seeking employment.
Published February 15th 2012
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


I tend to do this a lot after watching a good film: not write about it. Which seems strange, doesn't it? You'd think that a film reviewer relishes in the experience of enjoying a good film and would want to tell the whole world about how good it was. In my case, it seems that after watching a good film, I am always afraid that the following review that I will write about it will not quite measure up to the brilliance of the film. In my opinion, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was such a film, and in this review, I will indeed try to express why it was so great (even though I am sure that my review will fall short).

Yes, I did watch Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows a while ago now. However, much of the content of the film still comes quite vividly to my mind. One reason for this is the visually stunning nature of the film. Like the first Sherlock Holmes film, Victorian England comes alive in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, partly through the use of computer generated images and partly through the deliciously indulgent mise-en-scene. What I always love about these new Sherlock Holmes films directed by Guy Ritchie is the incredible mise-en-scene, consisting of such things as costumes, sets and props.

As usual, a highlight of this Sherlock Holmes film is the rapport that takes place between Robert Downey, Jr. (as Sherlock Holmes) and Jude Law (as Dr. John Watson). I won't even try to describe the homosexual inuendo that takes place in the long train scene, where Holmes disguises as a woman and where Holmes and Watson somehow end up in very suggestive positions. However, despite all that, there is a strong theme of brotherly love there that resonates throughout the film.

What I disliked about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows though was the new female lead. The actress who plays Madame Simza Heron in the film really didn't do it for me. I found her acting forced and unconvincing, and she is no match for Rachel McAdams when it comes to expressing the sharp and witty nature of the film through character. Some of that, however, can possibly be blamed on the script that was written for the Gypsy female lead. It is a tragedy that Rachel McAdams's character, Irene Adler, meets her demise in this film. It's a minor tragedy for the narrative, but it's also a tragedy in that the new Sherlock Holmes film series will not encounter the acting talents of Rachel McAdams any longer. Jared Harris must also be commended for his portrayal of Professor James Moriarty, as he is sufficiently evil and sufficiently menacing for the part.

There is also one scene in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows that somehow seems to need recognition. There is one particular scene where Holmes, Watson and several Gypsies are running away from enemies in a forest. The scene is very striking visually; however, during the scene, there seems to be an overindulgent use of slow motion. What results is a scene that is reminiscent of the kind of filmic techniques that are used in the making of war films, and although it's a bit out of place, it's an interesting moment in the film precisely because it stands out.

In conclusion, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a must-see for fans of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Victorian England, Robert Downey, Jr. or Jude Law. It might not be for everyone, but it certainly was a great viewing experience for everyone I know who's watched it.
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Why? Very Victorian England
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