Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows Blu-ray Review (

By:Tim Janson
Review Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I realize that to a lot of purists who grew up as fans of Sherlock Holmes being played by Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, or Jeremy Brett, that the more action-oriented Robert Downey, Jr. portrayal may not be to their tastes.  But I can’t help myself, these films are just plain fun.  The original film made a misstep by not featuring Holmes’ arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty but that is remedied here as Jared Harris takes the reins as the ultimate Holmes adversary in a globe-trotting adventure that goes from England to France, Germany, and Switzerland.  

A series of terrorist bombings threatens to plunge Germany and France into war that could spread throughout Europe.  Holmes has connecting the attacks as well as numerous business transactions back to the esteemed Moriarty as the two face off in the first of several battles of wills.  Dr. Watson (Law) is trying to put the life of adventure behind him, marrying the lovely Mary Morstan.  However, their honeymoon is interrupted by an assassination attempt aboard a train, which is thwarted by Homes…in drag no less.  And has Watson exclaims, quoting from Shakespeare’s King Henry the V. it’s “Once more into the breach!”

The pair team with a roguish band of gypsies, including the beautiful Sizma (Noomi Rapace) as they attempt to thwart Moriarty’s plans of war profiteering, as well as locating an assassin who has had his appearance surgically altered, before he can kill a delegate at a peace summit.

Is Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows heavy on action and a bit too light on mystery and Holmes’ usual brilliant deductions?  Sure.  But then again Indiana Jones didn’t exactly engage in a lot of archaeology in The Temple of Doom.  While still keeping Holmes brilliant and eccentric (and not necessarily in that order) Director Guy Ritchie makes him a man of action.  Ritchie brings back “Holmes-a-vision” the ability for Holmes to see a fight in his head before it takes place, is back with fury but Holmes will find he’s not the only one with this precognitive ability.

Jared Harris shines as Moriarty, who is as brilliant as Holmes but gains an upper hand with his sinister lack of morals.  He will let nothing and no one get in the way of his plans.  Stealing every scene he is in is Stephen Fry who plays Holmes’ smarter brother Mycroft.  His aversion to just about every other person around him, particularly those he deems below him, makes for some of the most enjoyable scenes in the film.

But as with the first film, A Game of Shadows rides on the shoulders of perfectly blended chemistry of Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.  These two actors are like an old comedy team who has honed their craft and timing for decades, and who know just the right expression and right inflections to use in their performance at all times.  They are an absolute joy to watch.  

Adding to the luster are some stunning set pieces like the Paris Opera House and the scene of the peace summit above the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland.  Top it off with a rousing musical score by Hans Zimmer, and Game of Shadows manages to outdo the original film.

Blu-Ray Extras

Maximum Movie Mode: Inside the mind of Sherlock Holmes Hosted by Robert Downey, Jr.  Every major studio has some version of a maximum movie mode where you can watch the film with popup featurettes, storyboards, and interviews but Warner Bros. does this as good if not better than anyone else.  There are various points that allow you to drop out of the film for focus points which I will detail below.

Focus Points (34:59)  The focus points are short featurettes that can be watched within the Maximum Movie mode or by themselves.  Among the focus points covered are the return of Holmes-a-vision; casting the role of Professor Moriarty; the relationship between Holmes and Watson; Mycroft Holmes; Director Guy Ritchie; and shooting in other lands.

Still Galleries

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Movie App – This is an app you can download to your computer that will sync to the blu-ray for more interactive material 

Mania Grade: B+
Rated: PG-13
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry
Written By: Keiran and Michele Mulroney
Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Original Year of Release: 2012
Extras: See Below