Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by:Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly
Released: January 5, 2012
Grade: C+

Few could argue about the success of the first Sherlock Holmes movie.  Released just over two years ago, it reeled in more than $200m in the United States and more than $25m here in Australia.  It confirmed Robert Downey Jr’s reputation as one of Hollywood’s biggest drawcards and it set in motion plans for a sequel.

This adventure begins with the increasingly eccentric Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr) trying to unravel another complex conspiracy.  He believes that the renowned Professor Moriarty (Harris) is up to mischief but can’t figure his plan or his motivations.  Unfortunately for Holmes, his loyal partner is not at his side to help.  Dr Watson (Law) has retired from the “sleuthing business” and is ready to start a less-stressful existence with his bride-to-be (Reilly).

It turns out to be a very short retirement.  Watson is drawn back into Holmes’ crazy world after being attacked at his own impromptu buck’s party.  Holmes goes to the aid of a mysterious fortune teller (Rapace) and the trio manage to escape unscathed.  That’s not the end of it however.  They’re going to have to work together if they’re any hope of evading Moriarty’s persistent henchmen and uncovering his fiendish plot.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the original film but it was still entertaining.  I can’t say the same in this instance.  These characters have become too smart for their own good.  The never-ending banter between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law gets tired quickly.  They speak eloquently but that doesn’t make it funny.

Also disappointing is new addition Noomi Rapace.  After wowing everyone with her performance in The Girl In The Dragon Tattoo series, why did the writers give her such a small, repressed role?  She hardly says a word!  I much preferred the spark and flair of Rachel McAdams in the first movie.  On that note, it’s nice to see McAdams make a small cameo in A Game Of Shadows – she’s easily the best thing in it.

Director Guy Ritchie has changed too much in terms of the film’s style.  The gloomy lighting and filthy streets help transport the audience to 1890s London.  Hans Zimmer’s folksy score (which earned him an Academy Award nomination two years ago) also returns and will linger in your mind as the closing credits start to roll.  I’m not sold on the slow-mo, fast-mo action sequences but hey, at least it’s trying to be different.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows has missed its chance to take this new franchise in a forward direction.