|Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows'|
The movie is based on the canonical short story The Final Problem.
As indicated in the first movie, Prof Moriarty (Jared Harris) is working in the shadows (pun intended) to initiate a war on a global scale. Dr Watson (Jude Law) has moved out of 221 B leaving Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) to his own devices. Holmes is on the trail of Moriarty, gathering all possible evidence.
Dr Watson’s impending marriage and the presence of a gypsy are 2 subplots incorporated into the story credited to Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney. The finale at Reichenbach Falls has been executed to perfection by Guy Ritchie and his crew.
Downey Jr and Jude Law continue their crowd pleasing and fun portrayals from the first movie. The same is true of the other returning cast members as well. The 3 main newcomers are Jared Harris, Stephen Fry and Noomi Rapace.
Jared Harris is mesmerizing as Prof Moriarty. His is a masterful performance that successfully sells the concept of an accomplished academic who also happens to be a criminal mastermind. Watching Harris’s performance sent me into raptures. This, my dear friends, is Prof Moriarty. The Moriarty who is every bit the intellectual equal of Sherlock, only far more devious (as rightly said by Adler in the previous movie). This is the Moriarty I had envisioned when reading The Final Problem and briefly in The Valley of Fear. A Moriarty who is subtle and ruthless.
Hats off, Mr. Harris. A truly Splendid performance!
Another great aspect of this movie is that, for the first time Moriarty is actually shown as a Professor in an academic environment. I have not seen this in the Granada adaptation or the Russian adaptation or for that matter in any other. In yet another nice nod to the canon, some of the characters in the movie refer to Prof Moriarty not by his name, but only as “He”. As Holmes spoke in The Valley of Fear about Moriarty – “No less! When any of that party talk about ‘He’ you know whom they mean. There is one predominant ‘He’ for all of them.”
Full credits to Warner Bros and Guy Ritchie for bringing Mr. Harris onboard and doing full justice to the character of Prof Moriarty!
Stephen Fry appears as Mycroft Holmes, the elder brother of Sherlock Holmes. As readers familiar with the canon will know, Sherlock and Mycroft indulge in a game of out-deducing each other in The Greek Interpreter where we are introduced to Mycroft. In a nice nod to the canon, we have Sherlock and Mycroft doing the same in the movie as well.
However, unlike the canon Watson joins in as well, leading Mycroft to conclude that perhaps Watson is not as dim-witted as he is often made out to be. I thought this was a nice touch and a reference to the bumbling image of Watson as portrayed by Nigel Bruce in the Basil Rathbone movies. Fry makes an adequate Mycroft, though the physical differences between him and Downey Jr can be quite jarring at times.
Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Golden Tattoo movies) plays Madam Simza, a gypsy whose brother works for Moriarty. Rapace does her best with the role given to her.
Jude Law shares excellent chemistry with Downey Jr and this is one of the best things about these movies. The sequence at the gypsy camp is a fine example.
Robert Downey Jr is an excellent actor and I am pretty sure, given the right material to work with, he can be anyone he wishes to be. In the first movie, I was not convinced about his performance due to his shenanigans with McAdams’s Adler. Thankfully, in the sequel Adler leaves the screen quite early. This leaves Downey Jr to portray Holmes in a significantly more canonical tone and he is electrifying as Sherlock in all the scenes he shares with Harris’s Moriarty.
The very first meeting between the rivals is nicely done. But the chess sequence at the end of the movie is truly out of this world. The sequence captures the essence of the rivalry between Sherlock and Moriarty – 2 geniuses at loggerheads with each other. The picturization of the ensuing fight scene is another gem as well. Ritchie shows the fight at a metaphysical level and elevates the scene from being just another routine climactic fight. Great job, Ritchie!
|Does he remind you of someone else....|
Interestingly, Downey Jr’s makeup in the train sequence reminded me of The Joker. Coincidence? Considering that both the movie franchises are from Warner Bros, probably not.
I also liked the Wine Cellar scene where Holmes, Watson and Madam Simza meet a terrorist who makes bombs. The way Holmes calmly and masterfully deduced the hidden exit instantly reminded of the Canonical Holmes. This is Sherlock Holmes. A calm, cool thinking machine who has his emotions in check and goes about his business in a truly masterful and assertive way.
Guy Ritchie has done an amazing job, right from the casting choices to the action sequences. The action scenes that show Holmes planning his moves ahead are more inspired this time, as not all of them go as per Holmes's predictions. The escape sequence through the forest though dragged on considerably and could have used some editing. The pony scenes with Holmes also did not really tickle the funny bone.
Hans Zimmer has produced another outstanding soundtrack that enhances the movie’s tone. The soundtrack “The Romanian Wind” in particular, is exceptional. His music is the very soul of this movie franchise.
Not to be outdone, the other crew members have also made handsome contributions to deliver a classic rendition of Sherlock Holmes. The cinematography by Philippe Rousselot, editing by James Herbert, production design by Sarah Greenwood and costume design by Jenny Beavan deserve special mention.
This turned out to be a long review. I just loved this movie and would heartily recommend to readers who are familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon and would like to see the finest onscreen depiction of Prof Moriarty.
Image Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
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