-Spoilers!- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011) -Spoilers!-

I remember the first time I watched Snatch. I popped it out of the DVD player, not entirely certain what to make of it. Then I put it back in and watched it twice more in a row.

That was, for a number of years, the best Guy Ritchie movie I’d ever seen. Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels felt like Snatch reshuffled. It suffers from what I call the Austin Powers Theory: if you saw the first film first, that’s your favorite and you tend to think the second film is crap. If, however, you saw The Spy Who Shagged Me first, then the original film is, to your eyes, crap.

I mean – all rules have exceptions, but … generally.

Anyway. Revolver was disappointing. I didn’t even bother with Swept Away, and I wasn’t sure what to make of Sherlock Holmes, so I avoided it at theaters.

When I finally got around to watching it, however, I was very impressed. I felt the folks behind the film put together a unique take on the character, albeit mostly by mining the stories for information, and abandoning the deer-stalker hat. I thought the script was solidly built, the score delightful, and the visuals borderline steampunkish (wonderful combination).

Alas: the sequel kept the score and the visuals but abandoned story telling in favor of action sequences. Moriarty, a mysterious character in the first film, is not an unknown character in this film, in fact, he’s pretty well known to everybody: Holmes has his photo, Moriarty’s out signing books and giving well attended lectures, while trying to organize a world war to line his pockets. Moriarty comes across less as a brilliant manipulator and more as a guy who has a hard time getting anything to go his way. Not to mention that his whole scheme from the first film – stealing the radio device isn’t even mentioned in the sequel. ‘

Finally: a quick note about the ending. What could have been a really daring ending — and if you’re familiar with the Sherlock Holmes mythos, you probably have an idea — is cheapened by the final scene.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – totally Netflixable.