DVD Review: Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows / Cert: 12A / Director: Guy Ritchie / Screenplay: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney / Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry / Release Date: Out Now
With the plethora of Sherlock Holmes adventures (including classic film versions and not so classic television interpretations) currently doing the rounds, anything new to this market has really got to add something sharp to the myth in order to pique your interest. Unfortunately Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the latest adventure from director Guy (ex-Mr Madonna) Ritchie to feature the Victorian super sleuth, though undeniably slick and fun, just doesn't have that special something to make it stand out.
The basic plot-line follows Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) as he yet again faces his old nemesis Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), who has the usual megalomaniac plans for world domination. When his trusted friend Dr Watson (Jude Law) decides to get hitched to his sweetheart Mary (Kelly Reilly), Holmes is left to tackle the mad professor alone. However, after Moriarty threatens Watson and his new bride, the doctor has no choice but to pitch in with his old friend in order to stop Moriarty from carrying out his devious endeavours.
Like fans of all fictional detectives, those of Conan Doyle's perennial creation will have their own favourites. But whether it be the playfully sardonic Peter Cushing in Hammer's masterpiece The Hound of the Baskervilles, or the dryly witty Vasili Livanov in the superlative Russian takes by legendary director Igor Maslennikov, it is an overriding air of seriousness which generally makes for the most successful Holmes films.
Ritchie however is never a director to go with the flow, and as a result prefers a lighter approach which, despite an undeniable edginess, ultimately fails through its sheer unbelievability. Holmes, as pointed out, like all the best detectives, took his business seriously - after all murder and mayhem, particularly on a world-wide scale, is no laughing matter. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, though every-bit the flawless production you'd expect - from edge-of-the-seat set pieces and detailed period costumes to the excellent supporting cast of stalwart Brits including Law, Stephen Fry as Holmes' brother Mycroft, and Geraldine James as the long-suffering housekeeper Mrs Hudson - is all entered into so tongue-in-cheek that the result appears a bit of a joke.
The problem is that this is Ritchie and Downey's show - a fact made glaringly obvious at every opportunity. With Downey constantly camping it up whilst Ritchie introduces as many trademark explosions and fight scenes as possible, the film leaves the viewer somewhat dazed by the final credits.
As with its 2009 predecessor, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a reasonably fun way to spend a couple of hours. For the serious Holmes aficionado though, it lacks the depth to leave any lasting impression.
Special Features: The Dynamic Duo, The Moriarty Gambit, Holmsavision on Steroids