Sherlock Holmes back for more in ‘Game of Shadows’

LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) – In 2009, British film  writer/director Guy Ritchie shocked Sherlock Holmes purists by  rebooting the classic crime-fighting character for a new  generation of movie fans.

Robert Downey Jr.

Gone were the traditional — and easily parodied — capes,  deerstalker hats and pipes. Instead, as embodied by Robert  Downey Jr., the famous detective was now part intellectual  sleuth, part martial arts action-hero, and he was partnered  with a slimmed-down, pumped-up Watson, played by Jude Law.

The result? Elementary — a $525 million global box office  hit. And now the team are back in the sequel, “Sherlock Holmes:  A Game of Shadows”, set for release on Friday.

“It was such a cathartic experience the first time around,  and such an enjoyable one, that we all just wanted to do it  again,” said Ritchie, who made his mark with the flashy, indie  gangster caper “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”

This time, Holmes and Watson face a new adversary, the  brilliant but evil Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) who  is scheming to bring down European governments and has  threatened the life of a Gypsy fortune teller (Swedish actress  Noomi Rapace, in her first English-speaking role).

Downey Jr. said that while the actors had a tight script  from which to work, ad-libs and on-set improvisation were very  much the guiding force of the production. “It’s a democracy in the truest and most frustrating and  most rewarding sense of the word,” said Downey Jr. whose Holmes  once again wears many disguises including one drag outfit.

Harris said that being thrown into the tight-knit group of  previous Holmes collaborators was “quite a challenge.” He said  he would bring up ideas “and even if they didn’t like them,  they’d nod politely and just never circle back to them.”

The classically-trained actor (son of actor Richard Harris)  had to learn to be prepared for the unexpected.

“Jared and I would have a scene we’d be shooting in two  days, and he’d say, ‘Is this going to pretty much stay like  this?’ and I’d go, ‘Not a word of it,’“ said Downey Jr. “And  it’d be like that.”

Ultimately, Downey Jr. said “everything Jared did…was  essentially thrown at him with very little time to prepare, so  it was ‘shock and awe,’ an exercise in trial by fire.”

Early reviews have been mixed with Hollywood trade paper  Variety saying the sequel improves on the original — thanks  largely to the scenes between Holmes and Moriarty.

The Hollywood Reporter, however, said the action “perhaps  arresting the first couple of times you see it, already seems  hackneyed, mannered and overworked.”

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