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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows(2011)
Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large-Professor Moriarty - and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade, points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder-a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes as he spins a web of death and destruction.
For more about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray release, see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 6, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Rachel McAdams, Stephen Fry
Director: Guy Ritchie
» See full cast & crew
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray Review
Everybody was kung-fu fighting! Those cats were fast as lightning...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 6, 2012
If you're as addicted to the BBC's excellent Sherlock series as I am, director Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows will prove woefully inadequate. If you've never watched a single episode of Sherlock, though, Ritchie's Game of Shadows will prove... mildly inadequate. More action-packed, bullet-riddled, convoluted and over-the-top than the first Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law Holmes/Watson team-up, the sequel ups every ante imaginable, often to its detriment. Ritchie and company all but forsake Arthur Conan Doyle's original detective stories and re-purpose Holmes as a spinning, grinning, gunslinging martial arts master, leaving one to wonder why Ritchie didn't replace good sir Robert with Jackie Chan. Gone too is much of Sherlock's deductive wiles, replaced by even more voracious wit, silly disguises and butt-of-the-joke comedy. Mysteries unravel with nearly nonsensical complexity too, clues take a back seat to whatever furious fisticuffs lie in wait around the next corner, and Moriarty, Holmes' great nemesis, is the only real scene-stealer to be had. Oh, it's all wildly entertaining, in a brainless summer blockbuster sort of way. But it misses the mark again and again, muddying the waters with wall-to-wall action, abandoning reason with rapidfire flashbacks and impossible logic puzzles, and tossing aside almost everything that makes the Steven Moffat-run BBC series an accessible cerebral thrill-ride and Ritchie's first Sherlock Holmes, flawed though it may be, a fun, popcorn-fueled diversion.
Dogged detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr., The Avengers, Iron Man) finally meets his match in Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris, Mad Men, Fringe), this time in the light of day, face to face, intellect to intellect, even fist to fist. Moriarty, growing tired of the perpetual cat and mousing, steps out of the shadows and devotes himself to taking Holmes out of the equation. Rather than come at his adversary head on, though, the murderous professor targets Sherlock's companion Dr. Watson (Jude Law, Hugo, Contagion) and his fiancÚ, Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly, Triage, Eden Lake). Of course, Moriarty has his eyes set on a bigger, grander prize and it falls to Holmes and Watson to figure out the madman's endgame. With the help of a feisty gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Sherlock's brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry, Alice in Wonderland, V for Vendetta), landlady Mrs. Hudson (Geraldine James) and bumbling do-gooder Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan, The Illusionist, The Disappearance of Alice Creed), Holmes and Watson race to uncover Moriarty's devious plot and stop him from bringing Europe, and the world, to its knees.
The particulars of the mystery at the heart of A Game of Shadows is completely secondary to the razzle dazzle visuals and punch-drunk action of Ritchie's whirlwind detective yarn. Style trumps substance for a whiz-bang hour and a half, redeemed only by an invigorating, smartly paced third act that delivers a more intriguing adaptation of Doyle's stories (chief among them "The Final Problem") and a more satisfying battle of the wits; one that doesn't involve dispatching dozens of henchmen, being caught in a shootout on a train, or fleeing from an entire battalion of heavily armed troops. It's in that third act too that Downey Jr. and Law are finally, finally given a chance to sink their teeth in. No pithy barbs for pithy barbs' sake, no curly wigs or cheesy stage beards (well, perhaps one), no inconceivably advanced martial arts zaniness; just well crafted, character-driven chess gamemanship that's more Holmes-n-Watson than anything that comes before it. Come to think of it, the only constant in the film is Harris. The perfectly nefarious antithesis of the great detective, Harris' Moriarty is a villain's villain, staying one step ahead of Sherlock till the very end, besting Holmes again and again and again. Harris convinces, not just as a twisted professor with a staggering intellect, but as a megalomaniac hellbent on manipulating major world powers to his whim. His scenes come as a reprieve from all the visual rambunctiousness, and he seems the only actor at peace with cooing his lines rather than spitting them out with increasing intensity. Moriarty's intensity lies in his cold, deliberate certainty, and his hubris and frightening insightfulness hangs in the air like a thick London fog.
Kieran and Michele Mulroney's script can be as baffling and overwhelming as Sherlock's problem-solving montages, and often just as difficult to follow. The gypsies are extraneous; a dull means to an unnecessary end that wastes Rapace and mucks up the works. Reilly, Hudson or even Rachel McAdams (unceremoniously dismissed from Ritchie's two-movie adaptation in the opening minutes of the sequel) would have been a far more interesting female tag-along, and made the stakes that much higher for Holmes and Watson. In fact, most of the characters in A Game of Shadows are squandered. Inspector Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson are MIA for most of the film, Mycroft is relegated to exposition, nudist sight gags and comic relief, and Reilly's Mary Morstan is fantastic... for the whopping ten minutes she's on screen. Worse, the story they inhabit sometimes amounts to a disjointed, discombobulated mess. Still, it all comes down to expectation. If you're expecting a blazing blockbuster crammed with 'splosive action, slapdash comedy and slow-mo jaw punches, the Sherlock Holmes sequel won't disappoint. If you're hoping for something as sharply penned or cunning as Steven Moffat's Sherlock series, you'll shake your head, cross your arms and demand Ritchie's head on a platter. And if you have great affection for Doyle's original stories, brace yourself for a beating. A Game of Shadows is fun and frivolous, with a terrific third act that saves it from its own self-important smugness, but don't think too hard. Thinking won't get you anywhere.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray, Video Quality
A Game of Shadows hits the ground running with a fit and faithful 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that, stylistic quirks aside, rarely falters. As was the case with the first Sherlock Holmes, Oscar-winning cinematographer Philippe Rousselot's photography has been subjected to dramatic color-grading but remains perfectly suited to Ritchie's at-times almost monochromatic, late 19th century newsprint palette. Sepia hues dominate the image, with washed out earthtones, antiqued whites, dusty yellows, overcast blues and grays, and deep, coal-stained blacks. Detail is impressive throughout, even though the film's slow motion shots, captured with high speed Phantom cameras, tend to be naturally soft. Grain is intact, edges are clean and well-defined, textures are crisp and nicely resolved on the whole, and delineation is, all things considered, reasonably revealing. Better still, artifacting, banding, aliasing and other oddities are held at bay, and the few shortcomings you'll encounter trace back to the source, not inadequacies with Warner's encode. Fans of Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films won't be left wanting.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's tightly tuned DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track takes its shot and hits its target dead center, delivering an exacting, punch-for-punch, sternum-thumping lossless experience that doesn't let up or relent. The LFE channel is bold, bombastic and discriminating, throwing its full weight behind every meaty thunk, explosive thoom and heavy boom Ritchie unleashes, all while imbuing weighty elements with convincing heft and presence. The rear speakers ignite the already immersive soundfield as well with convincing, ever-careening directional effects, devious cross-channel pans, and remarkable dynamics. A Game of Shadows isn't just loud and unruly, though -- despite being both from time to time -- it's playful and mischievous too, embracing every broad stroke of composer Hans Zimmer's dueling themes: the light, impish blend of Celtic and Romanian music for Holmes and the orchestral, Schubert-inspired pieces for Moriarty. All the while, dialogue is clear, distinct and intelligible, without a lost line or buried voice to complain about. A Game of Shadows may be the lesser of Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films, but the sequel's DTS-HD Master Audio mix foils the first film's dreams of sonic domination.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows isn't a bad film or a failed sequel. It just takes a few too many steps in the wrong direction; an action-oriented path that, if followed any further, will only lead Holmes and Watson to ruin. There's still plenty of fun to be had in Ritchie's entertaining romp, but fans of Doyle's original stories or Steven Moffat's excellent BBC series would be wise to lower their expectations. Fortunately, Warner's Blu-ray release is more rewarding thanks to a strong video presentation, a pound-for-pound DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a decent collection of extras. Chances are you've already deduced how you'll react to A Game of Shadows. Buy or rent accordingly.
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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: June 12-19 - June 10, 2012
Director Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows makes its Blu-ray debut this Tuesday. For Warner Bros., the release provides a monetary opportunity to exceed the film's modest theatrical performance; despite having an aggressive marketing campaign, A ...
• Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray - March 13, 2012
Warner Home Entertainment will bring Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows to Blu-ray in June. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) and Jude Law (Hugo) return as Holmes and Watson in this sequel to the 2009 blockbuster, which finds the sleuths pitting their wits against ...
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