December 17, 2017

“Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” Shows Brains Are Our Best Asset

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

“It’s our last adventure and I intend to make the most of it,” proclaims eccentric Detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) to his conventional sidekick, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), on the eve of Watson’s wedding in the second movie installment of the series, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  Their quest in this sequel is to outwit a new villain, evil Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), before he wreaks more havoc across Europe.  Efforts are fueled once more not by brawn or good looks, but by Watson’s trademark book smarts and calm thinking as well as Holmes’s keen intuition and inventive disguises.


Loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s entire short story, “The Final Problem,” Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows can stand alone from the first film for those who haven’t seen the original.


Set in 1891, when women wore corsets and donned gloves while drinking tea, elevated language is in abundance. Professor Moriarty coolly tells Sherlock Holmes, “My respect for you is the only reason you’re alive,” as they mind duel during a game of chess. The smart thinking in this film is just as exciting as any action, if not more so.


I didn’t take my kids this time, as the movie is rated PG-13, but the teens sitting near my husband and me seemed to enjoy the journey to 1891. They laughed out loud when Holmes teased his best friend, Watson, by saying, “Don’t be such a ponce!”  Insults sound the same no matter what century they’re said in.  And later, when Holmes opts for a Shetland pony instead of a racing stallion to travel across France, the teens laughed right along with the bumpy ride.


The costumes and the landscapes of the travels through Europe are magnificent too; educational as well as entertaining, the visuals alone are enough to see the film.


I do think the film earns its PG-13 rating due to intense action and fight scenes, though.  The scenes are done tastefully except for a single scene near the end involving a meat hook, which was borderline gratuitous.


The film also could’ve been shortened a bit. At times the plot gets a little convoluted, but it all comes together in the end.


I do recommend A Game of Shadows for teenagers and their parents.  It reminds me of the interest sparked when I first watched an Agatha Christie film as a teenager.  I was immediately inspired to pick up my first Agatha Christie whodunit.  I think teens and young adults today just may pick up some Arthur Conan Doyle after seeing A Game of Shadows. The formula he mastered over 100 years ago in his books is still just as fun and relevant today.

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