Following 2009’s fun and whimsical Sherlock Holmes, SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS (2011) takes those characters we loved and strips them to their core. As many sequels have shown before, it has now become expected to take the established characters that we have grown to love in the first adventure and strip them down, break them and show them on the verge of collapse.
SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS quickly escalates the 2009 romp through London and now shows that no one is safe in this new tale. War is inevitable, looming on the horizon. All of the players are back, alas some not for long, and the ramifications leave Holmes almost broken from the start. Gone is the art of infallible deduction and perception, replaced now with failure and mistakes. Watson is slipping away, readying a life with his new wife (Kelly Reilly), and Holmes is agitated and faces a significant loss. And Holmes is almost weary, not at all ready to face his greatest adversary Moriarty.
Moriarty (Jared Harris) is a formidable presence, played with a balance of intelligence and menace. This sophomore adventure has plenty of action, humor and allows Downey and Law to grow further into the camaraderie that made the first film such a delight. Noomi Rapace is the only miscue, forced in as a third to replace the delightful Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams). But at the end of this adventure, we get to see a battle of intellectual wits between one of literature and film’s most famous opponents. This film allows us the excellent opportunity to be right along with Sherlock as he deduces and disguises himself through one clue after another.
The new 4K transfer from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is sharp and crisp, creating a darker and grittier backdrop for our sleuths to play against. There are dark clouds on the horizon, and the lack of color really helps the tone.
The real stars of this transfer are the almost monochromatic images of cinematographer Philippe Rousselot and the fine detail of the production design work of Sarah Greenwood. From the costuming to the streets of London, you feel you are looking at vintage photographs of the period.
Since 2011, Downey has been busy playing a super-hero, and now that Tony Stark is in the rear-view mirror, it would be a real treat to see him and Law return ten years later, brush off the waistcoats, and set out again. Here’s hoping. Until then, invest in these two new transfers and enjoy the mystery.
The SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is now available from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.