The film is again of course based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and is loosely based on the short story The Final Problem.
This time around Holmes and Watson join forces to outwit their most cunning adversary, Professor James Moriarty.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows the Movie
The movie opens with Watson writing memoirs of his most recent exploits with Sherlock Holmes.
Irene Adler from the first movie is intercepted by Holmes delivering a package, though her bodyguards detain Holmes, allowing her to proceed.
Irene delivers the package to Dr Hoffmanstahl as payment and is given a letter in return.
When Hoffmanstahl opens the package, he triggers a hidden bomb mechanism, and Holmes takes both the letter and the bomb as he steps in to save the day.
While the other two escape, they still face the wrath of Moriarty, an esteemed Professor who Holmes suspects is behind a number of terrorist acts in Europe.
When Dr Watson arrives at 221B Baker Street, Holmes reveals that he is investigating a series of seemingly unrelated murders, terrorist attacks and business acquisitions that he has connected to Moriarty.
Holmes then to meets with a Gypsy fortune-teller named Simza, who was the intended recipient of the letter he had taken from Adler.
Holmes defeats an assassin that was sent to kill Simza, but she escapes before Holmes can get any useful information from her.
Watson and Mary get married the next day, and Holmes meets Moriarty for the first time, where Moriarty reveals that he will kill Watson and Mary if Holmes continues to interfere.
Moriarty’s men attack the couple on a train to their honeymoon, though Holmes intervenes.
Holmes and Watson travel to Paris to locate Simza, and join forces with the gypsies to uncover Moriarty’s plot and find Simza’s brother Rene, who wrote the mysterious letter.
This takes them all over Europe before Holmes and Moriarty face off in a final confrontation – but has Holmes finally met is match?
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows certainly follows on well from the original film and continues with its many traditions.
Again we have a highly stylized look for the movie, and key techniques from the first film, like Sherlock’s ‘Holmesavision’ prediction of the events, are back in the sequel.
While perhaps a little irreverent for hard core Holmes fans, these movies add a lot of levity and are all in all a lot of fun to watch.
I highly recommend Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows for fans of action films with a little more depth to the story and characters than typical Hollywood fare.
Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law continue to have great on screen chemistry and key roles of Moriarty and Mycroft are expertly played by Jared Harris and Stephen Fry.
The supporting cast were also good, including the return of Rachel McAdams, along with Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, Noomi Rapace, and Eddie Marsan.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was made by one of my favourite directors Guy Ritchie, who was also behind Revolver, RocknRolla, Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and of course the first Sherlock Holmes movie.
The movie was met with largely positive reviews, earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of 60% and an IMDb score of 7.7/10.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was a huge success in the cinema, reaching $186.6M at the US box office.
I don’t doubt that we will see a third movie in the Sherlock Holmes franchise coming soon!
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Blu-ray Disc
The video on the disc is an AVC 1080p encode at 18.5 Mbps, and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1.
The image quality is pretty good here, though do consider that the movie was shot on film and has a large number of special effects.
Of course the high speed Phantom camera is used in certain scenes too, and it again looks amazing.
The very stylized look that the film makers went for here is represented well on the Blu-ray Disc transfer.
You will find full resolution PNG screen captures taken directly from the disc at the details page for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
The main audio is lossless DTS-HD Master Audio with 5.1 channels – 24 bits resolution at 48 kHz.
The disc is a dual layer BD50, with 38.2 GB used and is coded for All Regions.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Blu-ray Disc – The Bonus Features
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has one of the strongest collection of supplements that you are likely to see.
Firstly the movie features a Maximum Movie Mode they call Inside The Mind Of Sherlock Holmes.
As with the other versions of Maximum Movie Mode, seamless branching is used to insert behind the scenes information into the flow of the movie.
Here Robert Downey Jr. hosts the Maximum Movie Mode. and an enhancement has been added that allows you to skip forward to the next special segment.
Warner has certainly got very slick in the way that they present the behind the scenes segments as well as the transitions between the regular film and special clips.
In addition to the Maximum Movie Mode segments, watching the movie with this feature also brings up a Picture-in-Picture feature that shows the production of various shots and features cast and crew interviews.
Additionally you can occasionally elect to exit the film to look at photo galleries and the Focus Features that are mentioned below.
So all in all, between Maximum Movie Mode and the Picture-in-Picture, this viewing option provides a huge range of in depth behind the scenes detail on the production of the film.
As if that isn’t enough, Warner has also added a Second Screen App for the movie.
You can download the App for the iPad or Kindle Fire to get even more insight into the development and production of the movie.
Unlike Second Screen we have seen previously where the App follows the film, Warner has turned the concept on its head and the App directs the player to play back segments from the film that are relevant to the sections in the App.
The App will sync the player automatically over WiFi and BD-Live, though it is also possible to manually sync the two if you don’t have a networked player.
You can also use the network connectivity to share your Second Screen App activities on Facebook or Twitter.
The Second Screen App certainly gives the best look at production details like stills galleries, script to screen and storyboard to screen comparisons.
There are behind the scenes videos that play within the App, as well as segments from both the regular film and the Maximum Movie Mode that can be launched on the Blu-ray player from the iPad.
Along with the Trailer and a link to the Digital Download for the movie, the App is divided into a number of sections.
Motive covers the genesis of the story, and the life and history of both Arthur Conan Doyle and the Sherlock Holmes stories.
This timeline starts in 1859 with Doyle’s birth and ends in 2011 with the release of the Game of Shadows movie.
Along the way events include the release of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, early stage and film versions, Doyle’s real life events and eventual death, and the 20th century development of the stories into films and television series.
At various points on the timeline you can get more information on the topic at hand, watch videos and direct the main screen to relevant segments of the movie.
Events features interactive screen breakdowns for eleven key scenes of the movie.
Typically these present a script to screen or storyboard to screen comparisons, as well as behind the scenes segments from the Focus Features and still galleries from the scene.
The cast is covered in Persons of Interest, discusses both the character from the movie as well as the actor that plays the character.
This section includes interviews with the cast and relevant links to the movie on the main screen for all of the main characters.
This includes Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law as Dr. Watson, Noomi Rapace as Madam Simza, Jared Harris as Prof Moriarty, Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes, Kelly Reilly as Mary Watson, Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, Paul Anderson as Sebastian Moran and Eddie Marsan as Inspector Lestrade.
Scene of the Crime discusses real crime and crime solving from the nineteenth century, including the genesis of Scotland Yard.
This section also discusses early plastic surgery, gypsies, pre First World War tensions in Europe and the original inspiration for the character of Moriarty.
Lastly, Surveillance is also about the characters and locations in the film.
Here you can use the time lime, the maps or the character index to jump around to the various locations of the film.
Each location has its own page, with a link to the film on the main screen, the characters that appear in each location and stills taken at the location.
Overall I have to say that this Second Screen App is exceptionally slick and a great way to delve into the history, development and production of the movie.
I am certainly looking forward to seeing what Warner goes on to do for future releases with this style of supplement.
If Maximum Movie Mode and the Second Screen App are a little too high tech for you, the disc also features a collection of Focus Points that are standard behind the scenes featurettes.
In Holmesavision on Steroids the film makers discuss the lengths they went to to make the previsualizing of the fight scenes, refereed to as Holmesavision, to new heights for the second installment in the film franchise.
Robert Downey Jr. and Jared Harris face off in Moriarty’s Master Plan Unleashed, where they discuss the casting and presentation of the super villain Doctor Moriarty.
The figurative and literal chess game between the two in the movie is also discussed in this segment, including an interview with the chess consultant who chose the game that played out at the end of the movie.
The relationship between the two main heroes is covered in Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Perfect Chemistry.
Actors Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. discuss the on screen chemistry that has played out in the two movies.
Herlock’s brother Mycroft is the key focus of Meet Mycroft Holmes - a segment that covers both the character from the original stories as well as Stephen Fry, the infamous British actor that plays Mycroft in the film.
Sherlock Holmes: Under the Gypsy Spell talks about the gypsies in the story and the people that play them in the film.
The techniques of the film’s director are revealed in Guy Ritchie’s Well-Oiled Machine, which covers the on set mood and appreciation of the director’s skill and attitude.
Lastly Holmes Without Borders covers the wide range of European locations featured in the movie this time around, and how they were replicated in England for the shoot.
All in all this is an excellent collection of supplements.
This release also includes a DVD Copy for legacy players and an UltraViolet Digital Copy code.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on Blu-ray – Final Thoughts
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a very enjoyable movie that combines a ton of action with deeper than typical characters and plot.
Warner Home Video has an excellent Blu-ray release here with a wide range of supplements including a Second Screen App.
You additionally receive a DVD Copy of the movie and an UltraViolet Digital Copy code with your purchase.
The retail price is $35.99, though you can get it at Amazon for $24.96, saving 31%!
- Inside The Mind Of Sherlock Holmes – Maximum Movie Mode – Robert Downey Jr. Takes You Through the Films as Only He Can
- Second Screen App
- Stills Galleries
- Focus Points, including:
- Holmesavision on Steroids
- Moriarty’s Master Plan Unleashed
- Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Perfect Chemistry
- Meet Mycroft Holmes
- Sherlock Holmes: Under the Gypsy Spell
- Guy Ritchie’s Well-Oiled Machine
- Holmes Without Borders
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world’s most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room – until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large – Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) – and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Around the globe, headlines break the news: a scandal takes down an Indian cotton tycoon; a Chinese opium trader dies of an apparent overdose; bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna; the death of an American steel magnate – No one sees the connective thread between these seemingly random events – no one, that is, except the great Sherlock Holmes, who has discerned a deliberate web of death and destruction. At its center sits a singularly sinister spider: Moriarty. Holmes’ investigation into Moriarty’s plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his ominous plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.