Short version: Really quite enjoyable.
Mr. Scott Walters took me up on my big screen offer this week, so TNM hit the Riverview Theater for 2011’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the sequel to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes. All the major talent returned for this one: Robert Downey Jr (Sherlock), Jude Law (Watson), Rachel McAdams (Adler), as well as director Guy Ritchie. New to AGoS, Stephen Fry played a wonderful Mycroft, Jared Harris was solid as Moriarity, and Noomi Rapace played a gypsy fortune teller/revolutionary, which actually worked pretty well as sort of a sidekick to Watson in a few scenes.
Pretty straight-forward plot in this one – Holmes plays a game of cat-and-mouse with Moriarity, who’s manipulating national dignitaries in an attempt to start (and profit from) a war. He lures Watson away from his honeymoon (subplot A) and joins with Rapace’s character because her brother is mixed up in Moriarity’s schemes (subplot B). The movie is a little light on dialogue and development, but it doesn’t really have to be deep. AGoS builds directly off the 2009 SH movie, including the slick action scenes where we see Holmes fighting out the scene in his mind, and then fighting it out for real. It’s well paced, and interesting enough to hold together.
I remember walking away from SH thinking that it could have been outstanding, but fell just short of that, which was disappointing. Perhaps my expectations were lowered for AGoS, so while I thought it didn’t come as close to being an outstanding movie, I enjoyed it from start to finish. Unfortunately for this set of Holmes characters, what the movie also showed me was just how absolutely outstanding the current BBC run of Sherlock is, in both story and cast. Especially Moriarity. Seriously, Sherlock is worth watching once JUST for Andrew Scott’s turn as Moriarity. It’s a little unfair to compare the two, but inevitable since they’re two Sherlock franchises running at the same time.
In the end, I do recommend seeing Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – especially if you enjoyed the first movie, but it also stands well on its own. …and then after that go rent the Sherlock DVDs, because seriously, everyone needs to see that show.