There is a fairly simple equation in moviedom at the moment.
Robert Downey Junior + starring role + outrageous character + lots of screen time = awesome movie.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows follows this equation fairly closely, and unsurprisingly, it is box office gold.
(As an aside, one of the previews was for the Avengers movie, with Robert Downey Junior (RDJ) as Iron Man, and if the advertisement is anything to go by, the Marvel guys know the RDJ equation too, giving him huge amounts of speaking time and hopefully making him the centre of, well, everything).
I only saw the first Sherlock Holmes movie recently, but was bitten by the rough and tumble antics that turned Holmes from a detective that Miss Marple could have beaten in a brawl to a street fighter with an uncanny brain and an ego the size of a slightly odd planet.
Keeping Holmes in check is Watson, and Jude Law makes the same transformation for this staple character that RDJ does, though he makes sure to keep Watson well behind Holmes and let that character shine. And in this movie, to add even more posturing and posing, Stephen Fry appears as Sherlock's (Shirley) brother Mycroft, using the power of his stiff upper lip and quite a bit of nudity to show that brains and a sense of entitlement run in the family.
This is very much a boys movie, and while there are some stunning females in Rachel McAdams and an untattooed Noomi Rapace, they don't really get a whole lot to do. There is lots of running and shouting, explosions and bare knuckle brawls, and some very impressive camouflage outfits as well.
About the only thing that got to me was the length of the film. At over 2 hours, I had a hard time keeping up my enthusiasm about two-thirds of the way through, but this might also have been because I was watching the late night session and so experienced the two-third mark at around 12.30am. Such lateness could have also dulled my critical thinking, as could the fact I was watching it from the luxurious leather seats at the Embassy cinema, but I don't think so, as I could see some of its flaws.
A lot of the story and twists were fairly obvious. Some of the action and adventures were pretty improbable. Some of the humour was a bit unfunny. But you know what? I didn't really care.
Everything is so much fun, so much energy, that it doesn't matter that the film is completely bonkers. Because RDJ and director Guy Ritchie make all of that insanity incredibly watchable, and therefore make Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows a great film to watch. If a little long.
Verdict: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is a huge amount of madcap energy made by and with people who seem to be having a fantastic time. All that energy and talent is captured in the film, making it a wonderful if rather brainless film to be enjoyed by everyone. 9 bakers out of 10.