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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Sherlock Holmes:
A Game of Shadows
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Guy Ritchie
Produced by Joel Silver
Lionel Wigram
Susan Downey
Dan Lin
Written by Michele Mulroney
Kieran Mulroney
Based on Characters 
by Arthur Conan Doyle
Starring Robert Downey, Jr.
Jude Law
Noomi Rapace
Jared Harris
Stephen Fry
Kelly Reilly
Rachel McAdams
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Editing by James Herbert
Studio Village Roadshow Pictures
Silver Pictures
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s)
Running time 129 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $125 million[2]
Box office $545,448,418[3]
For other uses, see Sherlock Holmes (disambiguation)

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a 2011 British-American action mystery film directed by Guy Ritchie and produced by Joel Silver, Lionel Wigram, Susan Downey and Dan Lin. It is a sequel to the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, based on the titular character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The screenplay is written by Michele Mulroney and Kieran Mulroney. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law reprise their roles as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson and were joined by Noomi Rapace as Simza and Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty.

Holmes and Watson join forces to outwit and bring down their most cunning adversary, Professor James Moriarty. Although influenced by Conan Doyle's short story "The Final Problem", the film follows an original story and is not a strict adaptation.[4]

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, despite receiving generally mixed reviews from critics,[5] was commercially successful with a worldwide gross of over $545 million.[3]


In 1891, Irene Adler delivers a package to Herr Dr Hoffmanstahl; payment for a letter he was to deliver. Hoffmanstahl opens the package, triggering a hidden bomb that is prevented from detonating by the intervention of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes takes the letter and disposes of the bomb while Adler and Hoffmanstahl escape. Holmes finds Hoffmanstahl assassinated moments later. Adler meets with Professor Moriarty to explain the events, but Moriarty poisons and kills her — deeming her position compromised by her love for Holmes.

Some time later, Dr Watson arrives at 221B Baker Street, where Holmes discloses that he is investigating a series of seemingly unrelated murders, terrorist attacks and business acquisitions around the globe that he has connected to Moriarty. At Watson's bachelor party- which is arranged by Holmes and his politician brother, Mycroft- Holmes meets with a French Manouche fortune-teller Simza, the intended recipient of the letter he had taken from Adler, sent by her brother Rene. Holmes defeats an assassin sent to kill Simza, but she flees before Holmes can interrogate her. After the wedding of Watson and Mary Morstan, Holmes meets Moriarty for the first time. After expressing his respect for Holmes' tenacity, Moriarty informs Holmes that he murdered Adler and will kill Watson and Mary if Holmes' interference continues. Holmes vows to bring him down in response.

A group of British Army Grenadiers, hired by Moriarty, attack Watson and Mary on a train to their honeymoon. Holmes, having followed the pair to protect them, throws Mary from the train into a river below where she is picked up by Mycroft and taken to his estate. After defeating Moriarty's men, Holmes and Watson travel to Paris to locate Simza. When she is found, Holmes tells Simza that she has been targeted because Rene is working for Moriarty, and may have told her about his plans. Simza takes the pair to the headquarters of an anarchist group to which she and Rene had formerly belonged. They learn that the anarchists have been forced to plant bombs for Moriarty.

The trio follows Holmes' deduction that the bomb is in the Paris Opera. However, Holmes realizes too late that he has been tricked and that the bomb is in a nearby hotel; the bomb kills a number of assembled businessmen. Holmes discovers that the bomb was a cover for the assassination of Meinhard, one of the attendees, by Moriarty's henchman, Sebastian Moran. Meinhard's death grants Moriarty ownership of Meinhard's arms factory in Heilbronn, Germany. Holmes, Watson and Simza travel there, following clues in Rene's letters.

At the factory, Watson sends a telegram to Mycroft while Holmes investigates further until he is captured by Moran. Moriarty holds Holmes hostage and tortures him while Watson is under sniper fire from Moran. Holmes deduces Moriarty's plot, revealing that the Professor secretly acquired shares in multiple war profiteering companies, and intends to instigate a world war to make himself a fortune. Meanwhile, Watson uses the siege howitzer he had been hiding behind to destroy the watchtower in which Moran is concealed. The structure collapses into the warehouse where Moriarty is holding Holmes captive. After being bombarded and chased by German troops on Moriarty's payroll, Watson, Simza, and a badly injured Holmes reunite and escape aboard a moving train. Holmes deduces that Moriarty's final target will be a peace summit between France and Germany in Switzerland, creating an international incident. Mycroft is already there, playing a part in the diplomacy.

At the summit, Holmes reveals that Rene is the assassin and that he is disguised as one of the ambassadors, having been given radical reconstructive surgery by Hoffmanstahl. Holmes and Moriarty, who is also in attendance, retreat outside to discuss their competing plans. Watson and Simza find Rene and stop his assassination attempt, but Rene is himself killed by Moran as he is dragged out.

Outside, Holmes and Moriarty play Blitz chess. Although the assassination attempt has failed, Moriarty is unconcerned; he believes that world war is bound to happen within the next few years anyway, and he will still make millions from the assets he has gained. Holmes reveals that during Moriarty's torture of him, he replaced the professor's personal diary that contained all his plans and financing with a duplicate. The original was sent to Mary in London, who decrypted the code using a book that Holmes had noticed in Moriarty's office during their first meeting. Mary passes the information to Inspector Lestrade who seizes Moriarty's assets, financially crippling him. Enraged, Moriarty vows he will torture and kill Watson and Mary in revenge. Holmes and Moriarty anticipate an impending physical confrontation, and both realize Moriarty will win due to Holmes' injured shoulder. Holmes instead tackles Moriarty over the balcony and into the Reichenbach waterfall below. The pair are presumed dead.

Following Holmes' funeral, Watson and Mary prepare for their belated honeymoon when Watson receives a package containing a breathing device of Mycroft's that Holmes had noticed before the summit. Contemplating that Holmes may still be alive, Watson leaves his office to find the delivery man. Holmes, having concealed himself in Watson's office, reads Watson's memoirs on the typewriter and adds a question mark after the words "The End".



After the success of the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, a sequel was fast-tracked by Warner Bros. with director Guy Ritchie dropping out of an adaptation of Lobo and Robert Downey, Jr. leaving Cowboys & Aliens.[18] It was unclear if Rachel McAdams would appear in the film. McAdams said, "If I do, it won't be a very big thing. It's not a lead part".[19] Warner Bros. later confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that McAdams would play a part in the sequel.[13]

The film, then under the running title of Sherlock Holmes 2, was reported to be influenced by Conan Doyle's "The Final Problem".[4] While the film took place a year after the events of the first film,[4] Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was intended to be a stand-alone film that did not require knowledge of the previous movie.[4]

In October 2010, Downey, Jr. and Jude Law were seen rehearsing a fight scene as shooting took place in Richmond Park, in southwest London.[20] In October 2010, the steamship PS Waverley was chartered on the English Channel for filming, and a large green screen was erected at Didcot Railway Centre with a large action scene filmed there in mid-November.[10] In late November, a scene was filmed at Victoria Bridge, which is part of the Severn Valley Railway. In January 2011, scenes were also filmed at Hampton Court Palace and areas in Oxford University, Oxford, England. Filming also took place in September 2011 in Greenwich at the Royal Naval College.[21]

In early February 2011, principal photography moved for two days to Strasbourg, France. Shooting took place on, around, and inside Strasbourg Cathedral. The scene was said to be the opening scene of the film, as it covered an assassination/bombing in a German-speaking town.[22]

The production also filmed at several locations in Kent including Fort Amherst, Knole in Sevenoaks, and The Historic Dockyard Chatham. The White Cliffs of Dover can also be seen in the background of the scene where Watson and Sherlock travel by boat to France.[23]

The slow-motion work in the film was done by Gavin Free, an English filmmaker who works for Rooster Teeth Productions and is known for his web series, The Slow Mo Guys.


Main article: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (soundtrack)

The score was composed by Academy Award-winning Hans Zimmer. Zimmer and director Guy Ritchie traveled to Slovakia, Italy, and France to research the authentic Roma music. Zimmer and his core musicians all with National Democratic Institute members, visited seven Roma villages to learn about the Roma people and "listen to as many musicians as we could." Deeply impressed, Zimmer arranged for 13 of the Roma musicians with their violins and accordions to join him in Vienna at a studio for a recording session. Zimmer wove this Roma music into the score for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Besides discovering the wonderful cultural music, Zimmer also said he had never seen such poverty in Central Europe. A portion of proceeds from the soundtrack will help the Roma pay for necessities like water, heating and bus fare to get their children to school.[24] The soundtrack also contains works of Johann Strauss II, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ennio Morricone and Franz Schubert.


The film was released on 16 December 2011 in Canada, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Mexico on 25 December 2011 in most other countries and on 5 January 2012 in Australia, Poland and Spain.[6]

Home media

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was released on DVD and Blu-ray on 12 June 2012 for Region 1[25][26] and 14 May 2012 for Region 2[27][28] and Region 4.[29]


Box office

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows earned $186,848,418 in North America as well as $357,000,000 in other countries for a worldwide total of $543,848,418.[3] It is the 12th highest-grossing film of 2011 worldwide.[30]

In North America, it topped the box office on its opening day with $14.6 million,[31][32] down from the opening-day gross of the previous film ($24.6 million).[33] During the weekend, it grossed $39.6 million, leading the box office but earning much less than the opening weekend of its predecessor ($62.3 million).[34] By the end of its theatrical run, it became the 9th highest-grossing film of 2011.[35]

Outside North America, the film earned $14.6 million on its opening weekend, finishing in third place.[36] It topped the overseas box office during three consecutive weekends in January 2012.[37][38][39] It eventually surpassed its predecessor's foreign total ($315.0 million). In the UK, Ireland and Malta, its highest-grossing market after North America, the film achieved a first-place opening of £3.83 million[40] ($5.95 million),[41] over a three-day period, compared to the £3.08 million earned in two days by the original film.[42] It earned $42.2 million in total. Following in largest totals were Russia and the CIS ($28.4 million) and Italy ($24.5 million).[43]

Critical response

The film received moderately positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 60% of 202 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.1 out of 10. The consensus is "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".[5] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 48 based on 38 reviews.[44]

Roger Ebert, who gave the first film three stars, was even more positive in his review for A Game of Shadows, awarding it three-and-a-half stars and calling it "high-caliber entertainment" that "add[s] a degree of refinement and invention" to the formula, and that the "writers…wisely devote some of their best scenes to one-on-ones between Holmes and Moriarty."[45] James Berardinelli gave the film three stars out of four, writing: "A Game of Shadows is a stronger, better realized movie that builds upon the strengths of the original and jettisons some of the weaknesses."[46] Conversely, Keith Phipps of The A.V. Club felt that the film "aims lower than its predecessor's modest ambition, and still misses the mark."[47]


Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2012 Saturn Awards Best Action/Adventure Film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Nominated [48]
Best Costume Jenny Beavan Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Action Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Nominated [49]
Choice Movie Actor: Action Robert Downey, Jr. Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Action Noomi Rapace Nominated


Warner Bros. Pictures announced in October 2011 that the first draft for Sherlock Holmes 3 is being produced with screenwriter Drew Pearce writing the script.[50]


External links

  • Internet Movie Database
  • Rotten Tomatoes
  • Box Office Mojo

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