A sequel to a literary adaptation film presents a unique problem because usually one finds the book and first movie are always better. “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” the sequel to 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes,” could be the exception to this rule: it is just as good, if not better, than its predecessor. After earning an estimated $40 million and the first place spot at the box office this weekend, it would appear that audiences everywhere agree.
Set in 1891, “A Game of Shadows” follows the eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes on his mission to stop the criminal mastermind, Professor James Moriarty and his plans to incite a world war. With aid of his partner Dr. Watson and the underground connections of Sim, a mysterious gypsy, Holmes finds himself on an international journey across Western Europe to discover the depth of Moriarty’s nefarious plans. What follows is a game of cat and mouse that tests both the physical and intellectual limits of literature’s greatest detective.
Reprising his role from the original 2009 film, Robert Downey Jr. once again delivers a great level of energy and enthusiasm to the title character and his infinite quirkiness. Every part of Holmes, whether he is disguising himself in drag or mentally choreographing a fight, is emphasized through Downey Jr.’s remarkable ability to completely immerse himself in the world of the character. Having played many different characters in the past such as Charlie Chaplin and Tony Stark from “Iron Man,” Downey Jr. yet again proves just how versatile and entertaining he can be in his portrayal of the famous detective.
Returning actors also include Jude Law and Rachel McAdams who reprise their respective roles of Dr. John Watson and Irene Adler. Newcomers include Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s lazy older brother Mycroft and Noomi Rapace as the fortune-telling gypsy Sim. The most notable addition to the cast is Jared Harris in his effective portrayal of the “Napoleon of crime,” Dr. James Moriarty.
In addition to a great cast, this sequel earns a large portion of its success to its variety of settings and scenery as well as its expansive action sequences. Spanning the mountains of Switzerland to the decadent streets of Paris, “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is a visually and mentally entertaining film.