Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (Summer2015MM/DVD)
The game is afoot once more! Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles as Holmes and Watson in the supersleuth sequel to the mystery megahit that minted over a half billion dollars worldwide. While vying with Watson's soon-to-be wife for the Doctor's time and attention, the detective extraordinaire matches wits with his arch-nemesis Professor Moriarty (Mad Men's Jared Harris), a criminal genius who's conspiring to make a fortune by manufacturing the next generation of wartime weaponry that the world's great powers will be forced to use against one another... once Moriarty succeeds in provoking World War I, of course. Joining the dynamic duo on their adventure is a feisty gypsy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace) and Sherlock's craftier but crazier older brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry).
The good news is, Dr. Watson does get married. The bad news is, Sherlock Holmes throws his bride off a moving train. Actually, there's even worse news than that--but all will be explained in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the sequel to Guy Ritchie's 2009 hit. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law return to their roles as Holmes and Watson, as the duo take on the world's greatest criminal mind, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris), a man whose latest scheme has global implications. Sherlockians who prefer their consulting detective to remain in a traditional mode had best look the other way, for the sequel continues Ritchie's vision of Holmes as a hard-punching action hero hurtling through a barrage of special effects sequences. If you can go with that, A Game of Shadows actually improves on the first film: the story makes a little more sense (or possibly the whole thing moves so smoothly you don't notice the illogic), Harris is a delicious villain, and new cast members Noomi Rapace (from the Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series) and Stephen Fry (playing Sherlock's brother Mycroft, who calls his sibling "Sherlie") add appeal. It's all frivolous and superficial, but the film's playful attitude and breathless forward motion are skillfully managed--and the final note adds just the right punctuation. --Robert Horton