Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (PG-13)
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So, here it is, a bit less than a week since I saw the first movie. And now I've seen the second, again with my relatives from Ohio. Um... for part of the movie, I was thinking when I reviewed it, I might rate it something like "meh and three quarters," and for awhile I even thought I might not review it at all, just put some mention at the end of the first movie's review that I'd seen it. But I did think throughout the movie there were some good bits, and the second half was better than the first. So in the end, I rated it a bit higher than I expected to. I'll understand if many of you liked it more than I did. I'll say there were bits of dialog I couldn't make out, and I probably would have liked it better if I'd understood everything that was being said. Then again, even if I had, I might not always have completely followed the plot. It's the kind of thing where a lot of the time, it basically seems like the characters are just going from place to place, ostensibly because they've figured something out, but their reasoning tended to elude me. (Well, maybe not so much elude me as... eh, I dunno. I guess it made a kind of sense, but it all felt awfully random.)
The movie has some of the gimmicks of its predecessor, which were in some cases amusing and in others cool, but I couldn't help feeling like the sequel was basically trying to coast, to a certain extent, by copying nifty conceits from the original, rather than trying to be original. Which isn't really a bad thing, I guess... I mean, what sequel doesn't do that? I guess I just found it a bit more glaring, here. On the other hand, these conceits were actually given a bit of a twist, this time. The whole thing with Sherlock envisioning his fights in slow-motion before actually having them had a bit of a "been there, done that" feel, but I did like the one at the end of the movie, for a reason I won't reveal. And Holmes's disguises... well, most of them were just more of the same, but there were a couple scenes where his camouflage was... amusingly avante-garde.
Anyway, I'm not really sure what to say about the plot. Except, of course, that it's about a game of cat and mouse between Sherlock and Professor James Moriarty, whom fans of the character know as Holmes's greatest foe. And of course Moriarty has here a plot which Holmes has to try to figure out and put a stop to, but explaining it would defeat the purpose of actually watching the movie. So I'll just say that best parts of the movie are whenever the two geniuses are conversing, which happens all too infrequently. (And again, unfortunately I didn't catch everything they said.) And it's fun, in the end, seeing how much Sherlock had known long before he revealed it to his nemesis (or to us viewers). But at the same time, that's also part of the movie's problem: it might've been more fun to be aware of these things step by step instead of having very little idea what was really going on, for most of the game. But... figuring things out at the same time as Sherlock would also spoil the fun of the reveal, and detract from the magic of seeing just how great his intellect is (which is well hidden, btw, by the ridiculous way he acts, most of the time).
I suppose I should also mention that Dr. Watson finally marries Mary. And we meet Sherlock's brother, Mycroft (played by Stephen Fry, who's always great in anything he does). And there was Moriarty's henchman, Sebastian Moran. (There were, I suppose, any number of people in Moriarty's employ, but he was the only really important one, which was a nice change of pace from the many different villains and henchmen of the first movie.) And while Irene was in this movie, her role was greatly reduced from the first one. There was, however, a gypsy woman named Simza (Noomi Rapace), who joined Holmes and Watson in their... endeavors. Her brother Rene was working for Moriarty, so she was supposed to be killed, to tie up loose ends. (Tying up loose ends- by killing people- was a very big theme in this movie.)
The movie is obviously somewhat influenced by one of Arthur Conan Doyle's actual stories, as is mentioned on Wikipedia and probably countless other places, but personally I won't mention which one, because that would be too spoilery, I think. However I will say the movie is bookended by Watson writing about Holmes... which leads to a very small moment which is probably my favorite touch in the whole film, right before the end credits roll.