Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Theatrical Release: December 16, 2011
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large—Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris)—and not only is he Holmes’ intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan), points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder—a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes as he spins a web of death and destruction—all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.

Dove Review

The filmmakers do a nice job in recreating Victorian England. The sets including the train stations and carriages and homes and are all period and carry the viewer back to this historic time, namely 1891. Unfortunately, the movie caters to modern audiences, meaning the literary hero Holmes is thrown into a plot which involves explosions and cannons and machine guns which seem to me to be out of step within a Sherlock Holmes story. I can’t help but wonder what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would think.

The non-stop action grew a bit tiresome to watch and the violence is strong, including a scene of a man being thrown by an explosion and we see him engulfed by the flames. There are also several characters wounded and we see blood flow and many injured, including our two heroes, Holmes and Watson, who carry blood on their head wounds. Holmes is jabbed with a hook and deals with a bloody wound. In addition, apparently opium smoking is featured and a great many drinking scenes. It’s too bad the film doesn’t portray more suspense. The constant explosions and fights made me long to watch a quieter movie.

After a while Holmes’ meeting with Professor James Moriarty, the “Napoleon of Crime”, didn’t seem as important because all the energy was sucked from me from viewing all the action, explosions, rapid scene changes, and fights. Even his legendary meeting with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls initially takes place at a terrace within a building which I found a bit strange. Robert Downey, Jr. does bring intensity to the role which is appropriate for today’s audiences I suppose and Jude Law makes a likable Watson, but unfortunately the violence and drug categories miss the mark as it relates to our content suitability for families so we must withhold our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal from this film.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: A husband and wife kiss.
Language: G/OMG-2; D-2; B-1; "H...bent"-1; "Good Lord"-1
Violence: A lot of scenes involving violence including fist fights, characters who are kicked; characters shot and killed, a character is thrown a distance and killed by an explosion and we see him engulfed in flames, several characters have bloody wounds on the stomach and head; a character is jabbed by a hook which sticks in him and we see the bloody wound; a character is shot with a poisonous dart and dies; other characters hit by darts; a fire is started; a battle featuring guns take place on a train; a character is killed with a knife; buildings are destroyed and engulfed in flames.
Drugs: A character appears to smoke opium; opium is mentioned a few times; several scenes featuring smoking including pipe and cigar smoking; tobacco is mentioned; drinking in several scenes including wine, brandy and champagne; a character drinks formaldehyde.
Nudity: Shirtless men; a man is obviously naked in a scene as we see his stomach and chest and his rear crack at the top (not his complete nude rear).
Other: Betrayal and a plot to start a war; intense disagreements with a few characters; a character tells the fortune of a character by the reading of cards.


Company: Warner Brothers
Writer: Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney
Director: Guy Ritchie
Producer: Susan Downey
Genre: Action
Runtime: 129 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter