HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8849[/img]Title: Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 129 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 12th, 2012
HTS Overall Score:79.5
“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is the latest in the steady flow of superhero movies given to us over the last several years. Or at the very least it appears that way. As a lifelong fan of Sherlock Holmes, I have read and collected every short story and novel that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ever wrote, as well as watched most of Holmes’ various iterations on the silver screen. While Holmes has always been portrayed as brilliant and slightly arrogant, never before have I seen him portrayed as a superhero or with God-like powers like he is in Guy Ritchie’s latest installment of the Holmes franchise. Here, we are supposed to believe that not only can Holmes deduce actions and circumstances based upon the most mundane-seeming evidence around him, but he is able to see the future as well? Blessed with the ability to foresee every action of an opponent (and predict his need for props and assistants even before the circumstance takes place), Holmes becomes a master at deducing crimes, and he is able to defend himself against a myriad of opponents with both weapons and a knowledge of hand to hand combat that would make Jackie Chan jealous. Gone is the incredible intelligence and humble friendship between two men, and is replaced by sharp, witty banter, sarcasm, a jealous friendship, and more martial arts and gun slinging that “Shanghai Noon.” I’m not saying that movie isn’t a blast. Once you separate the Holmes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from Ritchie’s iteration we are left with a highly enjoyable action/comedy/mystery film that is quite palatable for the masses.
We start right where we left off from the first film: Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) is relentlessly following the trail of the mysterious Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), who was revealed to be the mastermind of Holmes’ brush with death in the previous film, and Watson is preparing for his upcoming nuptials. In an effort to keep Holmes from coming any closer to discovering his scheme, Moriarty sets his sights on Watson and his new bride. Realizing that Moriarty won’t let him or Watson alone unless he gives up, Holmes changes tactics and takes steps to protect Mrs. Watson while coercing Watson into one last mission, take down Moriarty once and for all.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8850[/img]The first half of the film is short on deduction and high on action. We are subject to Holmes dancing around London and the French countryside, engaging in fisticuffs with Moriarty’s goons, or blasting it out with them in slow motion gun battles on a hurtling bullet train (okay, maybe just a regular one, but the similarities aren’t unnoticed). The second half is a game change; we realize that Moriarty has more up his sleeve than simple crime, and Holmes is forced to unravel his nemesis’ secrets in order to stop a disaster of global proportions. The final half hour is the film's shining moment, though, where we see Holmes’ plan finally come together through a brilliant set of logical deductions and carefully laid traps.
Unfortunately for mystery fans everywhere, the mystery in the film plays second fiddle to Guy Ritchie’s constant invasion of slow motion effects and fighting action. If you’re familiar with Guy Ritchie, you’re well aware that he enjoys blending style and substance together for a uniquely crafted signature movie experience. Here we have a little more style and a bit less substance than his fans are used to. My main gripe with this film, above even the style and substance argument, is that Holmes is TOO much a super hero. Even Moriarty, with all his brilliance, is completely undone by Holmes with apparent ease. Villains are dispatched more by brawn and clairvoyance than through actual deduction and even the ending wasn’t shocking because there never was any sense of “doom” or “danger” for our plucky hero.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8851[/img]Guy Ritchie films are easy to spot from a mile away. Covered in a blue/green, monochromatic color tone and softened just slightly, "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" replicates the theatrical experience beautifully. The 1080p AVC encode is devoid of most artifacts except for the occasional soft spots (usually relegated to the films slow-motion action scenes). Colors are bright and vivid, well representative of the late 19th century period feeling. Detail is rich (except for the aforementioned soft spots), we can clearly see everything from Holmes' constant facial stubble to the wrinkles lining Moriarty's face. Blacks are rich and inky, with almost no black crush. Shadows were exceptionally impressive and provided that enigmatical feeling off of which a mystery thrives. Having experienced Warner Brothers' previous new release films, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of banding and and other artifacting for which Warner is, unpleasantly, known.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8848[/img]Almost as impressive as the video is the audio. Vocals are crisp and clear without a hint of imbalance. Gunshots are explosive and utilize the surrounds quite extensively. There is a forest scene that was particularly memorable. Bullets were whizzing past both ears and impacting directly in my rear speakers - probably one of the more enveloping scenes in a film that I've experienced in quite a long time. The LFE is bombastic and sub crushing. Every bullet, every artillery shell, every explosion just rocked my couch while at the same timing being crisp and accurate (one of my biggest complaints is over-bloated boomy sounding bass that can only hit one low note). The score was my favorite auditory pleasure, switching between a rollicking Celtic feel when Holmes is flitting about and then switching to a much more powerful Operatic sounding score when Moriarty takes control of the screen. Overall, it is a very pleasant auditory track that's only fault was being great, but not jaw-dropping.
• Maximum Movie Mode
• A Game of Shadows Movie App
• Focus Points
• DVD + Digital Copy
While Guy Ritchie has provided us with an enjoyable romp, it must be understood that, if you're a Holmes aficionado, you have to completely disengage the name "Sherlock Holmes" from the movie in order to reconcile the incredible differences between Ritchie's Holmes and the gentleman penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. With that out of the way, I do believe that Ritchie's trademark witty banter coupled with excellent video and audio scores will easily please fans of the action genre. While not an incredibly accurate portrayal of Holmes and Watson, we are left with a fun representation of the dynamic duo. My recommendation is to grab a bowl of popcorn, lean back, and let the bullets and quips fly for an action packed movie-watching experience.
Recommendation: Watch it