DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Young Sherlock Holmes

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Nov 21, 2003.

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  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    Young Sherlock Holmes

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1985

    Rated: PG-13

    Length: 108 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic

    Audio: DD 5.1English, English Surround, French Mono

    English Subtitles

    S.R.P. $19.99 USD


    Release Date: December 2, 2003




    So, what happens when you take an Indiana Jones style adventure and mix it up with Sherlock Holmes, and wind the clock back to Holmes’ teenage boarding school years in Victorian England? You get Young Sherlock Holmes, an interesting marriage of genres which predates Harry Potter, and arrives at the same time as The Goonies, but shares many of the same qualities of each. There are a couple of common threads among all of these titles... Spielberg was involved with Indiana Jones (director), The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes (producer). Chris Columbus wrote The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes, and would go on to direct two Harry Potter films. It’s no surprise, then, that they all have the same “feel.” In fact, Young Sherlock Holmes displays more influence from Spielberg and Columbus than from director Barry Levinson.

    Purists of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories may not be so forgiving of the liberties taken with the characters in this film (for one, Holmes and Watson first met as adults in a hospital laboratory, not as teens in a boarding school), but I don’t mind. After all, it’s all in fun. A message before the end credits makes this point, as well. Lock the original stories safely away and let this film stand on it’s own merits. This is definitely not canon. Deal with it. I think many critics were sucked into this trap, and weren’t able to enjoy the film for what it is.

    Of course, there are things to complain about, outside of the liberties taken with the characters. The plot is really kind of silly, and is more in keeping with modern adventure fare like The Goonies and Indiana Jones than it is with Victorian Era sleuthing pictures.

    The basic gist of the plot is, just as Watson shows up at school and meets Sherlock Holmes, there begin a strange series of deaths near the campus in London. It seems that these people suddenly start hallucinating, and end up contributing to their own deaths. Holmes, of course, is the only one who can see a connection in the deaths, and he tries to convince the local police that there is foul play involved. As things advance, someone close to Holmes becomes among those killed, and it is then discovered there is a connection between all who have died. Holmes and Watson investigate.

    This is where it gets weird(er). It seems there is an Egyptian cult that holds sacrificial ceremonies in a huge, underground, pyramid shaped temple. Connections surface between the cult, those who have been murdered, and members of the staff and faculty at the school.

    For those who haven’t seen this film, I’ll stop here for fear of giving things away (though most things here, weird as they are, are not too hard to figure out as you’re watching).

    Some of the more interesting parts of the film are the hallucinations. We get to see through the characters eyes as they hallucinate. This provides ample opportunity for some visual effects work from ILM, and a sequence that was perhaps the first major exposure for Pixar (The glass man sequence, though dated now, is a memorable scene).


    The Video
    Young Sherlock Holmes comes to you in anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 widescreen. The picture is bright, with good contrast, solid black levels, and decent shadow detail. The colors are slightly muted, but are accurate. Fine grain from the original elements can be seen, and there are some occasional dust spots visible on the print. The picture is a touch on the soft side, but is still adequately sharp. Overall, a nice transfer of a catalog title.

    The Audio
    The soundtrack is English Dolby Digital 5.1, with an English Surround and a French Mono track also available. The 5.1 track is clean and full, with dialog always clear and intelligible. The music sounds good, filling the front soundstage and bleeding a bit into the rears. The surround is non-agressive, but does provide some punch in the few action scenes - though not to the extent you would find with a more recent title. LFE is similarly non-agressive. This mix is what we’ve all come to expect from 1980’s catalog titles... it provides a reasonably enveloping surround experience, but nothing to write home about, by today’s standards.

    Special Features
    There are no special features.

    It would have been nice to see a trailer, and perhaps a featurette on Pixar’s groundbreaking (at the time) CGI. I still remember the first time I saw the glass man sequence in theaters... I was mesmerized. You just have to know that John Lasseter would have been able to narrate a nice featurette on the making of that sequence.

    Oh well... it’s still nice to have the feature on DVD.

    Final Thoughts

    Is this a great film? Certainly not. It will be a disappointment to those going in to it expecting a Sherlock Holmes mystery. It is, however, a lot of fun for what it is. Stay tuned through the end credits for an important coda to the film.

    While some extras would have been nice, Paramount has provided a nice transfer of this catalog title.
     
  2. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Just happy to get it. Extras would have been nice, but I have more realistic expectations.

    Thanks for the review. I will be picking the disc up [​IMG]

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  3. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    Alway's loved this film!
    Wonder if the "coda" at the end of the film, is the teaser for the still nowhere too be seen sequel?
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I don't think so... this is as it played theatrically.

    Read only if you've seen the film:
    The bad guy is none other than Moriarty


    Not really a teaser... but it left the door open.

    -Scott
     
  5. Haden

    Haden Supporting Actor

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    Funny thing about that coda is that I only recently discovered it 2 years ago when I watched the film again on AMC. I originally saw the movie in theaters when I was a kid, and have caught it occasionally on cable throughout the late 80s and 90s, but for all these years I never knew about that surprise ending after the credits. I was totally stunned when I saw it the first time, simply because it took over 15 years for me to finally find out about it! [​IMG]

    I'll definitely get this film on DVD.
     
  6. Greg Krewet

    Greg Krewet Stunt Coordinator

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    I am also looking forward to this. Holmes completists
    might be interested in the new release Sherlock: A case of Evil which also features a new take on the First meeting
    of Holmes and Watson and a featuring a gleeful Vincent D'Onifrio as Moriarty. Also recently released but rarely
    mentioned is Mr Bell and Mr Doyle which gives another and factual twist on the Watson Holmes origins. Both well worth tracking down.
    Best
    Greg
     
  7. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    Absolutely love this film, shame there are no extras, not even a bloody trailer? Dragonslayer had nothing either, oh well I suppose beggars can't be choosers, I should be happy its finally coming to dvd.[​IMG]
    A fun film, with good atmosphere, good acting, and the score by Bruce Broughton is excellente![​IMG]
     
  8. Sarah S

    Sarah S Second Unit

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    I know that I will be adding this to my want list.
     
  9. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    A wonderful film, and I've always been mystified by its failure at the box office.

    I'll definitely be picking this one up.
     
  10. Christian Preischl

    Christian Preischl Screenwriter

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    I saw this in the theater, and a few times on video after that, but I haven't seen it in over 10 years now. I can't wait to rediscover it again (for the first time in English!). I've had this in my "to buy" list since the day it was announced.

    Chris
     
  11. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I think I'll have to pick this one up. Loved it as a teen.
     
  12. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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    I have also been begging Paramount for the release of this film on DVD for years now. Shame there couldn't be at least a couple features, but oh well...will still pick it up on Tuesday!
     
  13. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Great to see it out finally, but Paramount you still take the cake for being cheap!!

    Not even one stinkin' widescreen trailer (or any for that matter) for your semi-popular catalog titles??!!

    How hard is that?

    I just hope when HD discs come out your're not one of the only studios that isn't doing master quality, high res. 24/96 PCM multi-channel tracks when everyone else is!

    Dan
     

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