A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There's lots of iffy stuff going on here, but Holmes and Watson's friendship is a powerful example of loyalty. Also, Holmes continues to remind audiences to pay attention to even the smallest of details because the answers to our questions, big and small, lie in them.
Positive Role Models
Holmes' sharp mind continues to be admirable, his eccentricities notwithstanding. And Watson remains straightforward and forthright. The friends always fight for good, even if their methods are sometimes iffy. Watson's wife, Mary, has a bigger role in this film, proving herself equal to the task of crime-fighting.
Violence & Scariness
The film is filled with highly choreographed fights and lots of other action violence. Bare hands, brass knuckles, poison arrows, knives, guns, bombs -- you name it, it's here. Holmes is also tortured in one scene, and there's a suicide. Some scenes are almost balletic because of how directed and maneuvered they are, but they're still bone-crunching and (sometimes) bloody -- and the slow-mo shots can sometimes make the anticipation of the impact even worse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of innuendo (much of which is likely to go over younger kids' head) and suggestive banter, flirting, and a kiss. In a scene that's intended to be comic, a man is shown naked from behind as he casually exposes himself to a woman.
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Swearing includes "damn," "hell," "bastard," and "my God" (as an exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A man smokes a pipe (accurate for the era). References to how one character is hopped up on coca leaves. Social drinking -- Holmes likes his liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that, like its predecessor, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is an entertaining adventure filled with several scenes of action violence and mayhem. Though the fight scenes are very choreographed and stylized, they're bone-crunching and often brutal. And the slo-mo effects sometimes make the anticipation of the impact almost worse than the impact itself. Knives, guns, and bombs are all in use; there's also one scene of torture and a suicide. There's also a fair bit of innuendo, one scene of a naked man from behind, some mild language ("bastard" and "damn), pipe smoking, and social drinking. Holmes (again played by Robert Downey Jr.) dons women's clothing in one sequence. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
How can this franchise not be entertaining with the talented Robert Downey Jr. playing a historically fascinating lead (and Law as a gutsy Watson)? Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows even looks entertaining: The tableau is drained of color, etched in charcoal, but still very stylized, which fits director Guy Ritchie's signature. He's assured another hit.
But is it great? Perhaps expectations are raised too high, but it feels like the bloom of the movie's specific visual and storytelling style is fading a bit. Ritchie's swift deconstruction of Holmes' thought process seem wasted on what-if situations instead of on actual detective work. And, yes, the bromance between Holmes and Watson is charming, but it's clear when Holmes faces Moriarty that the movie hungers for more of that type of confrontation. It's an iconic match-up, and it's too bad we don't spend much time with it and Holmes' other misadventures. Let the master detective detect!
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.