I rather enjoyed the first installment of this Sherlock Holmes franchise and like the Pirates of the Caribbean series, I was eagerly awaiting the release of the newest offering. And like the Pirates of the Caribbean, I was equally disappointed.
The first movie was smart, fast paced and full of witty moments and brain twisting turns in the plot. This sequel was true to its name, A Game of Shadows, because it was a mere shadow of the first movie. While it was not totally void of witty moments, they were not nearly as frequent or as well-timed. The plot was also shallow and less intriguing than its predecessor. Character development was missing, as was any real dramatic effect. Its not that it was a terrible movie, it was just, well, dull, boring and uninspired.
The visual effects were similar to the first movie, highlighted by the dark, industrial motif. But the special effects were not as exhilarating, nor did they really enhance the experience. For instance, the scene in the woods where everyone is running for their lives is played out in slow motion while trees are being splintered around them. Yawn. I, for one, am quite tired of the slow motion effect and feel it is grossly over-used today. It has its place, but to use it just because it is “cool” isn’t reason enough anymore.
The whole plot of the movie, a chess game of sorts between two brilliant minds, fails to deliver on an intellectual level. There needed to be more dueling of the minds with moves and counter moves to keep us guessing. Holmes’ romantic interest from the first movie is unceremoniously dispatched early on in such a casual way that I kept expecting to find that she was not dead after all, and assumed she would emerge at any moment to play a key role. Alas, that never happened, and the movie lacked any romantic tension at all. The female gypsy character was never truly developed in any meaningful way, and her brother, the assassin is even more of an enigma. Holmes’ brother is introduced to us, but we never find out much more about him than his sibling relationship.
Overall, the movie retained Holmes and Watson as partners, and Watson’s wife in the middle, but beyond the obvious visual similarity, the movie lacked everything that made the first one very good. In fact, I dare say if this one had been released first, there may have never been a sequel. Unless they can recapture the mojo of the first movie, I hope they avoid subjecting us to a trilogy.