The second installment of Sherlock Holmes, featuring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, is just as satisfying as the first. Take the all of the wordplay, calculated fights, and mystery solving of the first blockbuster hit’s recipe, and simply double the serving size for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. A bit sugary and superficial, but still oh so good. The hijinks are still hilarious, the dialogue is engaging and much easier to understand this time around, but the main complaint remains the general clutter surrounding the plot.
One of the glaring annoyances included in the 2009 film was the dialogue. Sherlock Holmes is expected to be on a higher plane of intelligence than most of the other characters, so it was no surprise that he spoke circles around them. All of the lines were fun and witty, but much of it just went too fast, became hushed and incomprehensible, and was lost on the audience. The diction is much improved now in 2011. Every one liner shines, and Downey’s character, and his equals, still easily separate themselves from their intellectual underlings. Luckily, no main character gets drowned out, and there is charm around every corner. Unluckily, there is a lot of filler in the movie that, though entertaining, causes some jumping around that can break up the experience.
The camera work still allows the viewer to believe they can follow along with the mystery, but it is still just a game of shadows. You will never be able to piece together every detail along with Sherlock (no matter how badly you want to), because the writers never let you in on everything until the thrilling conclusion. This is frustrating, but is obviously part of the fun and mythical wonder that surrounds Sherlock Holmes. Problem is, during many sequences, flashbacks throw clips and details back in your face so fast, that it is nearly impossible to keep up and interpret while watching for the first time. The movie tries to catch you up, as a way to clue you in to Holmes’ thought process, but it just becomes an epileptic nightmare montage until all the pieces fall together and you see the result. Add this to the constant darting between locations and plot lines, and the average viewer will lose a lot of the story until it is explained at the end. Hollywood more than makes up for it, though, with the continuous stream of charisma and excitment found in the best Friday night box office hits.
Despite its flaws, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows manages to easily surpass the level of fun the first film in the series delivered. Avoid the rising admission prices with a Saturday matinee, and you’re sure to have as much fun with this one as any Friday night show.