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SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Eddie Marsan, Rachel McAdams
Director: Guy Ritchie
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 129 Minutes
Release Date: June 12, 2012

We get to have that game, after all.”

Film ***

In 2009, the legend of Sherlock Holmes was re-invented for the modern age, and very successfully in my opinion. Director Guy Ritchie brought his unique directorial style (super stylized flashbacks, quick cuts and so forth) to the table. And in the roles of Holmes and Dr. Watson, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law turned out to be the best pair of casting that anyone could ask for.

That exact collaborative magic has resurfaced in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, a fast paced and highly entertaining sequel that is right on par, and in some areas much better, than its predecessor. Anyone who saw the previous movie knows by now that, in addition to his never-ending intellectual skills, Holmes is also very much an ass kicker of sorts and very handy with various weapons. For starters, let’s just say that if you were wowed by all the explosive action Holmes went through last time around, you haven’t seen anything yet.

But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. As it was revealed at the end of the last movie, all of the events were being carefully manipulated by a mysterious figure lurking in the shadows. That individual was none other than Holmes’ arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty. But he is very much the chief villainous presence this time around, and aims to beat and destroy Holmes once and for all.

It turns out that Moriarty (Jared Harris) orchestrated the events in the last movie in order to gain control of a device that would help in the execution of a much more diabolical scheme…one that could result in a new World War. And while donning a disguise as a renowned Oxford professor, Moriarty quietly masterminds a series of assassinations and bombings to help ensure London is very much forced into war. Unfortunately for him, his identity has been discovered by our dear hero (Downey, Jr.).

The movie is very much an elaborate game of cat and mouse, and one being played by two equally brilliant minds. Of course, during the course of the game, Holmes will have to completely ruin the honeymoon of his loyal but easily annoyed partner, John Watson (Law). And I’m not exaggerating in any way, as Holmes actually boards the very train Watson and his wife are on to get to their honeymoon destination…and even throws the wife off the train…as a means to safe her life, of course.

As far as the action goes, Ritchie may have outdone himself with what he’s pulled off here. In addition to applying the same visual techniques he executed in the previous movie (most notably, Holmes visually outlining a fight before it occurs), there is a jaw dropping bit where our heroes dodge massive rounds of ammunition in a forest. A lot of the effect comes from how Ritchie and his team have shot and edited this sequence, which is nothing short of breathtaking!

In short, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is that rarest form of sequel: one that’s perfectly equal with its predecessor. You’re hard pressed these days to find such a case, as most sequels are either letdowns or simply lesser than the previous product, no matter how good they are. But the efforts of Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey, Jr. have supplied us with a second helping in this successful franchise that surely does deliver at 100%.

Video ****

Certainly no flaws detected here, as this Blu-ray presentation from Warner is nothing but absolute top level quality. Even as the look of the movie is limited to a color palette of blues and greys, the overall detail is a pure treat for the eyes from beginning to end. And the bolder colors that spring up every so often are quite magnificent as well! If anything, these colors accompany the tone of the movie quite beautifully, and look even more striking in the 1080p!

Audio ****

Guy Ritchie has always been a master when it comes to incorporating loud bursts of pure in-your-face (or, um…ear) sound, whether it’s during an action sequence are during a sharply edited sequence. In other words, you’re in for one spectacularly sounding presentation by way of the DTS HD mix supplied here. Every aspect of sound is captured in stunning form here, be it spoken words, Hans Zimmer’s energetic music score or the marvelous action scenes (the aforementioned sequence in the forest will knock your socks off, guaranteed!). To sum it up, this is a pure reference quality release if there ever was one!

Features ***

This Blu-ray release from Warner is very much a case of quality over quantity as far as the extras are concerned. The big highlight here is the much beloved Maximum Movie Mode viewing option, where we get a Picture-in-Picture presentation hosted by none other than Robert Downey, Jr. himself. Apart from that, we are treated to Focus Points (individual behind the scenes segments which appear during the PIP presentation), Storyboards and Still Galleries. Rounding out the features is the Game of Shadows Movie App, which you can use to sync up with the Blu-ray for a fully interactive experience.

Also included is a DVD bonus disc version of the movie, which also includes an Ultraviolet copy.

Summary:

If you were a fan of the first Sherlock Holmes, as pretty much everyone was, than you are bound to have a blast with Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. It thankfully doesn’t repeat the previous movie at all and expands this new mythology of Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary character even further. Very much looking forward to the next one!

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