1 April 2013

Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes – A Game of Shadows (2011)
  • Director: Guy Ritchie
  • Based on book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Well, sort of. More than you’d think, actually.
  • Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Robert Downey Jr.,  Sherlock Holmes, The Soloist, Zodiac, A Scanner Darkly, Good Night and Good Luck, Black and White, Richard III and more
    • Jude Law – Cold Mountain, Alfie, Repo Men, Sherlock Holmes, Sleuth, The Holiday, Breaking and Entering, The Aviator, Captain Sky and the World of Tomorrow, Road to Perdition, eXistenZ, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
    • Noomi Rapace – Svinalängorna, Män som hatar kvinnor, Flickan som lekte med elden, Luftslottet som sprängdes (the last three are based on Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, Swedish version) and a lot of Swedish TV programs
    • Rachel McAdams – The Time Traveller’s Wife
    • Jared Harris – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Igby Goes Down, How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog, Lulu on the Bridge, Dead Man, Smoke, The Last Mohican
    • Stephen Fry Peter’s Friends, Jeeves and Wooster, Alice in Wonderland, V for Vendetta, Tristram Shandy, Gosford Park, Black Adder, Cold Comfort Farm, A Handful of Dust, A Fish Called Wanda
    • Kelly Reilly – Mrs. Henderson Presents, The Libertine
  • Why bought: Couldn’t resist
  • Seen: January 5, 2013

Is it appropriate that Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law play Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson? They certainly don’t fit the old tweed hatted and caped or chubby plodding images we have of them. But having recently read – for the first time! – the original first novel A Study in Scarlet I don’t think RD and JL are miscast at all.  They capture perfectly the manic arrogant but naive brilliance of Holmes and the adventurous worldly-wise wryness of Watson and their acerbic witty but deep mutual affection and respect.
Even the story is quite true to the spirit of the novels. In fact, in view of the historical connections of A Study in Scarlet this game of shadows in which the evil Moriarty is buying up all the weapons in the industry in order to start a war is believable and could well be based on one of Doyle’s stories.  Maybe it is. I’m not an expert.
Of course all the bang boom and kung fu (or whatever it is) are a bit far-fetched even for Sherlock Holmes but who cares? I don’t.
Downey and Law dominate of course but the supporting cast is extremely good. Stephen Fry is perfect as Sherlock’s less-than-lithe gentle diplomat brother (any film with Fry is a must-have, though sadly, I have few) and I’m patriotically proud of Swedish Noomi Rapace (hardly recognizable as the hard-as-nails computer genius Goth-punk Lisbeth Salander in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy) who is a convincing Gypsy toughie. Even Kelly Reilly in the small role of Watson’s wife Mary was right there in the action now and then, fighting the bad guys along with the rest and shaking her head in affectionate resignation over Sherlock’s madness.
Purists will say this isn’t Sherlock Holmes. Kids looking for action films might think it’s weird, taking place in the 1890’s and won’t appreciate the looming World War I. But I’m neither a purist nor a kid but a history and English teacher who enjoys movies like this.

4* of 5

P.S. Fans of Laurie R. King’s series of novels featuring an aging Holmes married to his intellectual match in detecting, the 20-something Mary Russell, might have a hard time accepting this movie. Or they might not. I like them both.

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