When Guy Ritchie was mooting his film version of Sherlock Holmes back in 2009, audiences were unsure what to expect. For one thing, Ritchie had an uneven track record as a director. For another, it wasn't just Holmes purists (present company included) who had problems with the idea of a handsome kick-boxing Robert Downey Jr taking on the mantle of Conan Doyle's tweedy master detective.
As it turned out, Sherlock Holmes was a decent romp. Well shot, zippily paced and featuring two actors, Downey Jr and Jude Law, who clearly enjoyed each other's company. It was also a tremendous success at the global box-office: such a success in fact (518 million dollars) that a sequel was inevitable.
Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows is a superior beast to the original film in almost ever regard. Ritchie is smart enough to retain the key element of the first film - the bromance between Law and Downey Jr -but ditch that mumbo jumbo plot in favour of more Holmesian scenarios (purists will be reminded of Conan Doyle's The Final Problem). Thus we get the ultimate adversary for Holmes: Professor Moriarty, played with moustache-twirling relish by Jared Harris. There's also a mention or two of The Reichenbach Falls, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdam) pops up again, and, best of all, Mycroft Holmes makes an appearance.
This is casting coup for Ritchie. If you're looking for someone to play Sherlock Holmes' smarter brother, who better than the man with a brain the size of a planet, Stephen Fry? Fry enjoyed the experience so much he even agreed to throw in a nude scene (don't ask). Elsewhere the strong cast is rounded out by Noomi Rapace, the Swedish Dragon Tattoo actress, here making her English language debut; and Eddie Marsan, who makes a brief appearance as Inspector Lastrade.
Are Downey Jr and Law shaping up for a third trip to Baker Street? Elementary, my dear readers.