Movie Review – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Not all good stories are contained within the pages of a book.  Some come to us in the world of movies (a world I particularly love :)).  So in addition to writing posts on some of my favorite books, I’d also like to share thoughts on a few of my favorite movies, or new movies (especially ones based off of books).  I’m excited about it, but before I start my first review, I want to make a note of two things:

1.  The posts won’t be “professional” (because I’m not a professional), i.e. they won’t critique the pros and cons in detail.  They’re simply my impression of the movie/whether or not I liked it/why I liked or disliked it.

2. Everyone has their own “filters”, and their own comfort levels with what stories they allow in their lives.  Please do not take these posts as me recommending shows to you.  Only you (and your family) can determine what is acceptable for you.

I hope that these posts are helpful, and that you’re introduced to shows that may become your new favorites!

(Don’t worry – I won’t give any spoilers…)

I blush to say that for the majority of my life, I have not been familiar with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.  However, some good friends of mine are working to change that.  🙂  They are avid Sherlock fans, own all the stories, and watch many of the  movies and TV shows.  Several weeks ago they let me borrow The Hound of the Baskervilles, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it – at the same time, I was formally introduced to the detective hero himself.  So thanks to my friends, I had some knowledge of the stories when I watched the new movie:  Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  

The movie version of Mr. Holmes strays a bit from the original book character.  His eccentricity and incredible genius stay the same, but his appearance is unconventional for a typical Sherlock.  The iconic clean-shaven, dapper look was replaced with more of an “elegant grunge”, but I thought it worked very well.  Sherlock was also much more of a comedic character than in the books.

The relationship between Holmes and Watson was also a bit less formal than in the books.  They squabbled and argued, but ultimately made an excellent team.  Character development was fabulous.  Every character was wonderfully acted: the good guys were heroic and lovable.  The bad guys were some of the best I’ve seen in a long time.  I was completely drawn into the story line, and truly cared about the characters.

The story line itself was “deliciously complicated”.  I was on the edge of my seat, and was kept guessing the whole time.  Since the first Sherlock (Robert Downey Jr.) movie was off-limits for me, due to its dark story line, I was expecting a similarly dark feel to this sequel.  I was very pleasantly surprised, and when the credits rolled I was left feeling inspired.  Being a detective movie, of course there were several deaths and a few times it could have gotten very gory – but to the credit of the movie makers, they showed real discretion with how much was portrayed.  A couple of scenes were dark and creepy, and there was quite a lot of violence, but never over-the-top.  In fact, some of my favorite parts in the entire show were fight/adventure scenes – heart-pounding, fast-paced ones that left me breathless.

(As far as elements to look out for, there was some language, but not very much.  Modesty on the women’s side was surprisingly good.  It was an unexpected scene of a clothes-less middle-aged man (side character) that caught me off guard.  [The situation with the man was an absolutely harmless one, and the lack of clothes was only to show his eccentricity.  But I still think they could have done without that…]  Aside from that, inappropriate material was short and scarce.  Sherlock drinks and smokes almost constantly.  To sum up “con” elements, I would say that for an action-adventure movie of this type, it was fairly clean.  Violence probably contributed to the PG-13 rating more than anything else.)

Last but not least, the cinematography was absolutely stunning.  I’m not a movie expert, or professional critic, but in my humble opinion, the camera-work was the best I’ve seen in years – perhaps ever.  One scene in particular, where they were running through a forest with bullets flying all around them, just took my breath away.  In a word, the effects were very, very cool.

Overall, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was a fun, action-filled movie with incredible effects, great music, adventure, and a story-line that was so multi-layered and complex that I had to watch it twice to catch it all (at least that was my excuse…).  But most of all it was the characters that made the movie for me.  Holmes and Watson were first-class, the type of intriguing characters that stick with you and are worthy of being called heroes.

The movie did it’s trick.  I want more of the adventures of Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, and can’t wait to see if new movies are going to be made.  But in the meantime, I’m going straight to the source.  I started reading The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes immediately after watching the movie, and hope to work my way through the stories.  It looks as if I’m becoming a Sherlock fan after all.

I'd love to hear what you thought about my post!

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