Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


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Movie: :3.5stars:
4K Video: :4stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

As I joked 8 years ago when I reviewed the Blu-ray, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is another in a long list of superhero films being lain out with the return of Robert Downey Jr.. The comparison is kind of apt, even though it was originally meant as a joke, being that the RDJ Sherlock Holmes films tend to be much more fantastical and superheroish in nature. I mean, we have characters diving out of 5 story windows, bullet time fights that get more and more outlandish, and witty jokes that fall more in line with Marvel movies than they do with a posh British detective. All jokes aside, I actually have a soft spot for the Guy Ritchie films. They’re quirky, a bit outlandish, but tons of high octane fun, and I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that they’re doing preliminary work on a THIRD film set to be released next year. Whether that will actually happen due to the giant upset of the Covid-19 pandemic making mince meat of the Hollywood schedule or not is up to debate, but that still is out there for fans.

It’s hard to live up to a movie that was a box office smash hit, and such was the case with A Game of Shadows. A movie that was just 2 years later than the original, and tried to play off the cliffhanger of the 1st movie, only to sort of stumble and fail at revealing the most important villain in all of Sherlock Holmes history. Don’t get me wrong. If you enjoyed the first Sherlock Holmes flick from Guy Ritchie, then you should enjoy this one as well. It has much of the same flair, much of the same humor, and even though it stumbles a bit with it’s main villain, is still a good fun romp in my opinion.

The film picks up right where the first film ends, with Sherlock (Robert Downey Jr.) hounding down Dr. Moriarty, who is revealed at the end of the first film to be the person responsible for his brush with death, while Watson (Jude Law) is preparing for his upcoming nuptials with his soon to be bride (who is almost as much of a villain to Holmes as Moriarty is). Realizing that Holmes isn’t going to let this go, Moriarty (Jared Harris) targets Watson and his soon to be bride, leaving Holmes no choice but to go after Moriarty full bore, realizing that his nemesis will not leave the two alone unless he’s taken care of once and for all.

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The first half of the film is a rock-em sock-em action movie, with Holmes dancing around the countryside engaging in fisticuffs with Moriarty’s goons, or shooting it out on top of a fast moving train ala a blend of Mission Impossible and The Matrix bullet time. It’s not very “Holmesish” if you’re a fan of the classic detective, but it is fun action.

The second half of the film is the game changer, when Holmes realizes that Moriarty has something more up his sleeve than simple crimes and pettily attacking Watson for no reason. He has a plan for Holmes and Watson, and you can be sure that it is nothing good. This requires Holmes to start at one end, and slowly unravel Moriarty’s plans so that he can stop a devious plan of global proportions.

The last half hour of the film is really the shining moment of the movie. It shows that Holmes was not nearly so bumbling and behind the times than we thought (and especially Moriarty thought), as Holmes unravels a carefully laid trap of epic proportions, that brings his nemesis to their knees once and for all.

Unfortunately for mystery fans, this last half hour is sort of “too little, too late” as Guy Ritchie’s high flying action and special effects detracted a bit too much from the overarching story line. It was as if they were used as a distraction for why we couldn’t see things unfold in front of us, allowing the audience to ooo and aww at the pretty action baubles instead of realizing that Ritchie was a little light in story. Not to mention that the action goes a little overboard even when compared to the first film. I mean, there was some action and adventure in the 2009 film, but it’s amped up to level 11 this time, with 2-3x the amount and not nearly enough mystery to flesh out the 2+ hour film.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material




4K Video: :4stars: Video: :4.5stars:
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The 2.39:1 framed HEVC encode is quite nice as well, and while it isn’t as MASSIVE a jump as from the Blu-ray of the 2009 film, the sequel does show noticeable improvements over the 1080p disc. The monochromatic color scheme was handled excellently on the Blu-ray, but showed a noticeable blue push that wasn’t present on the first 2009 movie, and the detail levels were much higher. However, the brightness levels have been tamed, and the use of HDR makes the minimalist colors richer and more vibrant. The big increase comes in the shadows (no, not a game of shadows ;) ), and the black crush that was prominent in the Blu-ray is no longer seen. Blacks are deep and inky, and the fine detailing on dark clothing shows up impeccably well. The digital noise that I grumbled about in my Blu-ray review 8 years ago is mostly gone, and overall, this is a much more fine tuned looking disc than the Blu-ray, and looks especially good when you realize just how over brightened the Blu-ray could be.







Audio: :4stars:
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Just like Sherlock Holmes, this disc comes with the exact same audio track that was found on the 2012 Blu-ray. I felt that the audio mix was a slight SLIGHT step down from the original movie, and that still holds true today. The mix is still a good one though, with a great front sound stage, and AMAZING surround usage. The shootout on the train is incredible to listen to in 5.1, and the bass still hits hard and heavy. My only “complaint” is that the vocals aren’t as balanced with the mix as the previous film, and thus gets the half star deduction. Nothing bad, just a slight thing when you compare both mixes side by side





Extras: :2stars:
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• Maximum Movie Mode
A Game of Shadows Movie App
• Focus Points









Final Score: :4stars:


As I said with my review of the 4K UHD of the 2009 film, A Game of Shadows is a fun jaunt. It’s not exactly the Sherlock Holmes that we grew up with, but it made for a solidly entertaining Guy Ritchie variation. The 4K UHD is a solid upgrade over the Blu-ray, showcasing better video, but the audio and extras are the same as the Blu-ray (and in the case of the extras, are all ON the blu-ray). Definitely recommended if you’re a fan of the movies and RDJ in particular (as he totally is the centerpiece of both films)


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams, Jude Law, Geraldine James, Stephen Fry, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, German, Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Thai
Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hungarian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Swedish, Thai
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 129 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: September 1st, 2020
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Recommendation: Recommended

 
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