HUB Movies: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

In many ways, the Sherlock Holmes movies aim for the same spirit as the Indiana Jones movies. Both feature intellectual heroes with a drive for adventure, puzzle-solving based on hidden clues, fast-paced action, and witty banter. The second Sherlock Holmes movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, combines the action of The Adventures of Tintin (a true successor to Indiana Jones itself) with the twisting mysteries of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which will play at the HUB in April) . Though it may not reach the heights of either of those two movies, it’s still a fun adventure to take in, and you can see it this weekend at the HUB.

A Game of Shadows benefits from having a larger scope than the first movie. Instead of being confined to London, Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) and Watson’s (Jude Law) adventures take them across France, Germany, and Switzerland in an attempt to outrace the machinations of a sinister villain attempting to start a war across Europe.

There’s more of everything: explosions, slow motion fights, arguments between Holmes and Watson and huge set pieces. After one smartly written unexpected death, you get the feeling that everyone is in danger, and suddenly that giant cannon blast feels more realistic. Fight scenes take place everywhere from a multi-level social club to a train to a castle in the snowy Swiss mountains (and the CGI set additions look much better than before). I did think the much-advertised chase scene through the woods overused director Guy Ritchie’s signature high-speed camera work, but no part of this movie failed to bring interesting visuals. Even the smaller mysteries are elaborately choreographed and engaging, and it’s interesting to see Holmes struggle with (and even fall to) an intellect as great as his own. Downey Jr. and Law show slightly more range, and even though their characters don’t change much, their interactions and quips are still fun to watch.

Jared Harris is perfect for Holmes’ nemesis Professor James Moriarty. He was a great villain as Mr. Jones in Fringe and showed even more dramatic range in Mad Men. In A Game of Shadows, he plays an evil genius who never appears to be more than a mortal man. In the first Sherlock Holmes movie, Mark Strong’s Lord Blackwood attempts to use fear of the occult and chemical weaponry to accomplish his plans. In contrast, Moriarty hides in plain sight, setting up the dominoes in his plan and leaving no traces behind to incriminate himself. In other words, a great foil for Holmes, whose powers of deduction rely on following a trail of clues.

On the other hand, Noomi Rapace seems like she was added to the movie just to have a female lead. Her character isn’t useless, really, just not very interesting. I know she’s a well regarded actress from the original Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so it’s a fault of the script that she doesn’t have much to do. Stephen Fry as Holmes’ brother doesn’t add much besides some very broad comic relief.

I don’t think Hans Zimmer’s score measures up to his fantastic score for the first movie. It’s much less bombastic, preferring to hide in the shadows and create tension. I did like how he incorporated the ticking sounds of a clock (or is that a bomb?) into some cues, and there’s definitely a wider range of instrumentations that continue to play with the main themes.

Like its predecessor, this sequel’s mysteries and plot revelations come quick towards the end. Though everything makes sense in the end, there are a few plot threads that could be more developed. However, A Game of Shadows is packed with enough fun and excitement that it’s much better than your typical holiday blockbuster and is definitely worth seeing.

Here are this week’s times:

Thursday, Mar. 15: 10:00 PM

Friday, Mar. 16: 7:00 PM, 9:30 PM & 12:00 AM

Saturday, Mar. 17: 7:00 PM, 9:30 PM & 12:00 AM

Sunday, Mar. 18: 7:00 PM, 9:30 PM

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About the Author

Alex Federman

Alex is a Senior at Penn State who enjoys watching movies and television shows (probably a bit too much). He's a Film/Video major, with a Spanish minor.

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