Holmes and Watson are back, with Holmes neck deep in intrigue and hijinks, and Watson always ready to back him up, much to his annoyance. Guy Ritchie has managed to film this Sir Arthur Conan Doyle classic well, thanks also to the charm and talent of his two leads.

However, A GAME OF SHADOWS may pale in comparison to its predecessor, especially when Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood from the first film) seemed a more vile character than Prof. James Moriarty (Jared Harris), and Moriarty is supposedly a formidable foe for Sherlock. 

The action is still fast and funny, yet we already saw plenty of that in the first film. Noomi Rapace as a gypsy woman embroiled in the intrigue is welcome, but forgettable. The story is really a bromance between Holmes and Watson that a female decorative is hardly necessary. 

I liked that new characters brought additional flavor to the story. Stephen Fry as Holmes's brother is hilarious, and it's good to see Watson's new wife serve a higher purpose than eye candy. She really is the leading lady of the movie. 

The story is on a grander scale, and though Moriarty's intention may be plausible, it rather seems cliched. I liked it better when Lord Blackwood spread fear. 

A not-so-spoiler alert: a major character dies at the beginning of the film, Watson's dog will be butchered again, and the wedding scene will prove most hilarious. Think THE HANGOVER circa 1800s.

And they played chess at the end of the film! Chess in cinema is a classic representation of intellectual as well as moral battle between two characters, seen most popularly in Ingmar Bergman's THE SEVENTH SEAL, and shamelessly and infamously and most recently in BREAKING DAWN Part 1. Moriarty is a cunning foe, but I don't think he is the rival that Sherlock deserves. 



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