When Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes movie hit theaters in 2009, it surprised people with its fresh take on the well-worn dynamic between Holmes and Watson, played quite well by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, respectively. The Snatch director's take offered up a compelling mystery with razor-sharp wit and a modern style, which clashed compellingly with the Victorian-era setting. And now the inevitable sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, looks to improve upon the original.
Right away, Ritchie’s distinct style permeates every frame. And while slow-motion shots and crass humor help make Holmes’ world more palatable for the modern audience, there isn’t much presented to distinguish this installment from the last, except for some more special effects.
Downey and Law look as good as expected, and the evolution of their relationship opens the doors for more improvisation. Unfortunately, Holmes’ greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty (played by Jared Harris) gets the shaft here. Not nearly enough is shown to truly convince us that Harris was a worthy choice to play one of the greatest villains in all of literature, but being that he’s such a shadowy character anyway, perhaps his role is best kept in the dark for now.
All in all, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows looks like a worthy successor to the first one so far, just as long as Ritchie and Downey provide a deep enough story that can match the sharp acting and flashy camera work. We’ll see how it all comes together when it gets released on December 16th.