Sherlock Holmes (2009) - DVD/Digital Copy Combo [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Crime
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 128 minutes - $35.99 || March 30, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writer(s): Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson (screen story), Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg (screenplay)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong


Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Maximum Movie Mode
  • 8 Focus Points
  • Featurette
  • DVD/Digital Copy Combo


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Note: This is my original review after I saw Sherlock Holmes at the theater and my opinion of the film remains the same as it was a few months ago...

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most surprisingly unusual films of 2009; not necessarily in a good or bad way, just unusual for the fact it’s a PG-13 historical action-adventure directed by an R-rated gangster-comedy-drama centric Guy Richie. It’s also a reintroduction of a prominent British character played by the equally prominent and of the past few years, on-fire American actor in Robert Downey Jr.

This wildly re-imaginative adventure, we open with Sherlock Holmes (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.) and his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson (JUDE LAW) infiltrating a cult sacrifice at the hands of Lord Blackwood (MARK STRONG) who is about to kill his sixth victim. With some swift and creative moves, the duo stops the killing just in time and arrest Blackwood for his crimes. Months later, Blackwood is set to be hanged and apparently the execution goes off without a hitch – including an examination by Dr. Watson to the fact he is dead – until they discover his grave is empty and in his casket is another man.

Meanwhile, master thief and more than an equal to Holmes in most ways, Irene Adler (RACHEL MCADAMS) come waltzing into his life with a proposal to find a certain individual. Being wary yet intrigued by the only woman he probable truly loves, Holmes realizes a connection with her request and the apparent reappearance of Blackwood who is building a coalition of sorts for a grander scheme. Is Blackwood back from the dead? Is it supernatural or something much more complex? Who is Adler working for and why? Holmes and Watson set out to uncover the truth before it’s too late.

** SPOILER ALERT **

I wasn’t entirely enamored with Sherlock Holmes mainly because the plot isn’t as grand as it likes to think with an ultimate plot reveal that was straight-up cartoonish, dark, but cartoonish never-the-less. In fact, it makes little sense. Lord Blackwood, perpetrator of the dark arts (probably went to Hogwarts), has built a clan of believers in his magic and their plan is to overthrow the British government wowing them with Blackwood’s dark powers and then I guess take over the world. If such a plan couldn’t work for any James Bond movie or Lex Luthor, why should it now?

** END SPOILER ALERT **

That said, on the mumbling words of Robert Downey Jr. – which at times were difficult to discern – the film succeeds. In short, he’s in his element now since the monster success of Iron Man. Deservedly so, he was nominated for an Academy Award with his hilarious performance in Tropic Thunder and although he’s not as prolific in Sherlock Holmes, it still is the make or break performance that makes this worthy of the ever shrinking dollar.

The supporting cast are all quite complimentary to Downey Jr. with Jude Law playing off of Downey’s eratic Holmes with a more sanity-centric Dr. Watson and the gorgeous Rachel McAdams as Holmes’ equal and adversary, a gal anyone would fall in love with. Although neither Law nor McAdams did anything memorable, they filled their roles very well and helped overcome a lame plot. Even Mark Strong getting the inauspicious job of playing the film’s primary villain, and getting the award for an actor who most resembles Andy Garcia, isn’t too bad either.

In regards to Guy Richie’s direction, I know plenty of people weren’t too impressed as he utilized styles seen 10+ years ago in films like The Matrix but seeing it used in a 19th century period piece does make it stand out and it shows the cool calculation of Sherlock and his boxing prowess are full on display which also dates back to the character’s origins, so +1 for the writers there. However, I do think Richie made the film look a tad too dark and grimy that it just looked ugly and distorted on the big screen. I know he was going for a certain style, but it didn’t work for me. I’m all for gritty, but it might’ve been too much. Of course, this is only a minor drawback to the otherwise entertaining value of the film as a whole.

With the film obviously leaving itself open to a sequel with the introduction of Holmes’ greatest foe, Professor Moriarty, I have high hopes that plot will be better developed as Downey’s charisma – as well as McAdams’ beauty – will have me going to see the sequel on opening weekend.

As it stands, Sherlock Holmes is no masterpiece but it’s entertaining and during these times, I don’t ask for much more than that.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This portion of the review has been amended upon discovering the DVD does in fact contain one featurette. I apologize for the error and the rating has been adjusted.

Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented (14:06; HD) – This is a normal featurette where members of the cast and crew (Ritchie, Downey Jr., Law, McAdams, Joel Silver, etc.) talk about how different the story was compared to the others intermingled with scenes from the movie as well as behind-the-scenes footage. What was interesting about this was how Richard Conan Doyle wrote the character and how the film tries to pay homage to it.

** BD EXCLUSIVES **

Maximum Movie Mode – Warner’s signature Blu-ray feature is back and if you’ve seen the one’s included on Watchmen or Terminator Salvation, you get the same kind of material here. This time it’s Director Guy Ritchie giving us some insights into how the movie was made via a PiP mode where Ritchie comes on screen at various moments with the movie playing in a smaller screen and another window with some behind-the-scenes footage. What I do find cool about this feature is the commentator is able to pause the film whenever they want. You also have the option of watching a few featurettes throughout.

Focus Points (TRT 31:17) are a collection of featurettes that crop up in the Maximum Movie Mode but can be viewed individually as well if so desired. Descriptions of each are from the menu.

Drawbridge & Doilies: Designing a Late Victorian London (5:00; HD) – Production Designer Sarah Greenwood and Co. confess to the challenges of creating a “reel” 1895 London with a Guy Ritchie edge.

Not a Deerstalker Cap in Sight (4:15; HD) – Costume Designer Jenny Beavan, plus cast & crew reveal privileged information on updating an icon.

Ra-Ritsu: A Tutorial (3:58; HD) – Learn the imaginary martial art form developed for Sherlock Holmes that incorporates elements of Wing Chun, Jujitsu and plain movie magic.

Elementary English: Perfecting Sherlock’s Accent (4:04; HD) – Robert Downey Jr. voiced Sherlock Holmes in “received pronunciation” (RP) with the help of celebrated Dialogue Coach Andrew Jack.

The One That Got Away (3:44; HD) – In “A Scandal in Rohemis,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hinted about one woman who had gotten the better of the sleuth. Rachel McAdams and others testify about the female touch in this film.

Powers of Observation & Deduction (4:01; HD) – Producer Lionel Wigram imbued the story with hundreds of details tying the film to the Sherlock “canon.”

The Sherlockians (3:03; HD) – The experts at a “Sherlockian” conference in New York explain why Sherlock Holmes is one of fiction’s most enduring characters.

Future Past (3:08; HD) – A look inside the process of re-creating a past that no longer exists.

— These 8 short featurettes give some insight into how the movie was made from the writing, direction and acting. Individually they’re not all that enthralling but luckily there is a Play All option so you can watch it as one longer featurette.

There are also a couple ads for Blu-ray and the Clint Eastwood Collection along with the trailer for Invictus.

Round things out is a BD-Live portal with trailers and other goodies from Warner which also includes a special commentary with Robert Downey Jr. (depending on when you're reading this) set to record on April 1st in a live chat which I believe will be posted on there if you can't make it.

On disc two is a DVD/Digital Copy Combo Disc, saving space by placing both on one disc and thus making it useful rather than tossing a digital copy aside as sometimes I do.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Sherlock Holmes is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio (originally shown in theaters at 1.85) and in 1080p high-definition. Per the late 19th century set designs and Guy Ritchie’s unique visual flair with some oversaturation and some muddled colors, this isn’t going to be the best looking Blu-ray but that was the intent. However, I do recall when I saw this in the theater that it was pretty dark so it is certainly an improvement. Now, I did notice some banding at times but the black levels were deep without removing the details from other objects.

Meanwhile, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is quite good between Hans Zimmer’s Oscar-nominated fantastic score, decent dialogue levels (though at times you still won’t be able to understand Downey’s accent) and the occasional action sequence that especially makes use of the subwoofer. Now, I said that the dialogue levels were decent and that’s mainly because it does seem to top out a few times showing no depth but I wonder if this is a case of the on-set microphones. It's not the most robust track I've listened to, but it's still pretty damn good.



.::OVERALL::.

Sherlock Holmes has its problems, sure, but thanks in large part to a great cast headlined by Robert Downey Jr. riding his hot streak after Iron Man’s box office smash hit (and a sequel coming in May), the movie manages to still be entertaining. Guy Ritchie also shows that he can direct a big budget Hollywood movie yet still keep his own visual flair and uniqueness. The Blu-ray itself scores mid-to-high marks on the audio and video presentation and although the features aren’t fantastic, they’re still pretty good for a once through.