When Austria’s crown prince is found dead, evidence seems to point to suicide. However, detective Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince was murdered and that the crime is but a piece of a puzzle designed by an evil genius named Moriarty. Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson, who are accompanied by a Gypsy whose life Holmes saved, chase Moriarty across Europe in the hope that they can thwart his plot before it can come to fruition.
Plot: Detective Sherlock Holmes is on the trail of criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, who is carrying out a string of random crimes across Europe.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Runtime: 129 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a good yarn thanks to its well-matched leading men but overall stumbles duplicating the well-oiled thrills of the original.
“Not as good as the first film, but if you’re a fan of the first, you’ll be a fan of the second.”
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was originally shot in 35 mm (mostly) and finished at a 2k digital intermediate — that means this is an upscaled presentation, just like the first. On top of that, as per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10.
Honestly, I should have complied both UHD releases together because you’re getting (mostly) similar characteristics between the two discs — sorry if I repeat myself. (Check out the first review.) In this case, A Game of Shadows’ biggest differences come from the new aspect ratio and brightness. Personally, I’m a fan of taking up all of the screen real estate you can — if I had it my way every film would be as close to 1.85:1 as possible. When it comes to the brightness comparison between the two, the first film is way darker in appearance, this time it’s (at least) a few shades brighter.
The way the cinematography is showcased in the second film also lays the ground work for it to be enhanced at nearly every level — everything about the city and atmosphere is now more dirty and gritty. This new level of detail brings all that grit to the forefront everywhere you look. This includes dirt on characters faces, cuts, scrapes, makeup, wrinkles, scratches, wear and tear on buildings… the works. On top of that, the production design shines again as every piece of fabric is accurate down to the stitching. (You can notice tiny details like misplaced or stretched threads on Robert Downey Jr’s wardrobe.)
The cinematography style continues from the first film too, with color palette purposely muted — everything has a desaturated look. Usually the HDR enhances color, but in this case it adds highlights and depth to way this movie was shot — here you’ll get a lot of deep shadows, dark layers, browns and sepia underlinings. There is quite a bit more color in comparison to the first film, but the HDR did it’s job again beautifully.
(As a side note, there are some CGI shots with use of backgrounds, and they can can appear a bit soft.)
In conclusion —
I’m going to cheat and reiterate what I wrote about the first Sherlock Holmes UHD release: “I’ve seen and heard people debate the way Guy Ritchie makes films, especially when your dealing with source material that’s been around for over a century. In my opinion, I like the way he goes about making films which is why I have a bias for both Sherlock Holmes films. The way he ties the characters together and then unravels them for the viewer works perfectly for Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law’s characters — I don’t know how else this would’ve worked. Everyone will have their own opinion, but if you find yourself on the negative side, one word you wouldn’t be able to use is forgettable, because that won’t apply here.”
Taking everything I’ve said into account, you can be sure that Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows gets my recommendation to own. It’s a must buy for all fans of the series! The third film is supposed to arrive next year, but with COVID in full effect, we might have to wait until 2022. No matter what you decide to do, you can grab a copy at your local retailer on 4K & Blu-ray today.
Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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