XenForo Template Sherlock Holmes Release Date: Available now Studio: Warner Brothers Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray case with slipcover Year: 2009 Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 2:08:00 MSRP: $35.99 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 1080p high definition 16x9 1.85:1 High definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1 (dubbed in Quebec), Spanish 5.1, and Portuguese 5.1 Stereo Subtitles English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese Variable The Feature: 4/5 What is life without challenge? No one understands this better than Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.), whose mental and physical capabilities are at such great heights compared to the average person, that solving one of his most challenging cases - the ritual murders of five young women by Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) - only brings about months-long depression and ennui. With his longtime compatriot Dr. Watson (Jude Law) on the verge of marrying and moving out of their apartment at 221B Baker Street, it seems there really isn't much left for Holmes to look forward to. But when Blackwood is executed for his crimes - and then inexplicably returns from the dead - Holmes is himself restored to life as he sets about tracking down the villain and stopping his nefarious plans, whatever they might be. Though the more-than-coincidental return of past lover Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) is a distraction, she'll also prove to be a valuable ally against a man who seems to be Holmes's equal, if not his greatest enemy. With director Guy Ritchie at the helm, known for such dynamic and visceral films as "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch," "Sherlock Holmes" has an undeniably modern sensibility. Yet at the same time the film shows a genuine commitment to depicting the 19th Century London in which Holmes first sprang to life. The fusion of the modern cinematic flourishes with the vintage material ultimately works - despite its potential for anachronism - because its lead actor is himself an embodiment of those two qualities. The fact that Downey went from playing the near-futuristic Iron Man to the period (but progressive) Holmes without missing a beat speaks to his tremendous acting skills but also to the value of (and the value of leveraging) the man's trendy-but-classy public persona. Though the filmmakers jettisoned most of Holmes and Watson's iconic qualities, the characters - and the film - are the better for it, making the feature less a reinterpretation than a re-commitment to Arthur Conan Doyle's classic source material. Though "Sherlock Holmes" proves to be an impressive and entertaining movie franchise debut, the true test of its success will be in my next reading of a Holmes mystery, if Downey's Holmes has supplanted the hawkish man with a Mac Farlane cape coat, deerstalker hat and giant pipe. Video Quality: 4.5/5 Presented in 1080p with the VC-1 codec, the film image fills the entirety of my 16:9 display (despite package labeling it as 1.85:1). The picture itself is blemish-free and exhibits excellent detail in textile patterns, hair and skin texture. Overall sharpness is similarly impressive, with only a handful of moments when things seem a touch hazy or soft. Consistently visible grain structure and infrequent instances of noise in darker regions indicate the absence of excessive noise reduction measures. Likewise the absence of edge ringing or halos vindicate the transfer from undue digital sharpening. The film does have an obvious stylistic quality that desaturates both the color palette and blacks. Those looking for rich and solid blacks in particular will likely be disappointed as the image exhibits both compression and flatness, affecting shadow delineation and detail. However because of the clear manipulation of the color gamut, I can only assume the black level issues are inherent to the source. Audio Quality: 5/5 Surround channel activity in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track offers an aggressive and highly entertaining blend of directional, ambient and atmospheric effects that are detailed, balanced and immersive. Scenes in echoing environments are especially interesting, though an early scene with an unexpected gunshot originating from off camera is also a highlight. LFE trolls down to significant depths, more so with atmospheric flourishes than with effects related to on-screen activity, but are exciting nonetheless. Though certainly not a subtle mix, it suits the material, particularly the sometimes stylistic visuals, and is presented effectively and cleanly. Special Features: 3.5/5 Though Maximum Movie Mode offers plentiful behind-the-scenes material, independent access to only the Focus Points ultimately doesn't make it the most efficient means of digesting the information. As usual, the DVD and Digital Copy are great conveniences in a world where Blu-ray has yet to become ubiquitous. Maximum Movie Mode: Exclusive to the Blu-ray release, this amplified variation on the video commentary includes picture-in-picture comparisons of storyboard panels to the film, a graphical timeline showing the events in the Holmes-Watson mythology, and walk-on video commentaries by Ritchie, which includes behind-the-scenes footage from production. The feature also branches off to focus points, which are independently accessible. Focus Points (31:17, HD) Featurettes highlight various aspects of the production. Drawbridges and Doilies: Designing A Late Victorian London (5:00) - Set design and decoration. Not A Deerstalker Cap In Sight (4:15) - What's new (and old) in this version of Holmes. Ba-Ritsu: A Tutorial (3:15) - A look at Holmes's martial art of choice. Elementary English: Perfecting Sherlock's Accent (4:04) - Downey's work with his dialect coach. The One That Got Away (3:44) - Background on the Irene Adler character. Powers of Observation and Deduction (4:01) - Holmes's unique skills. The Sherlockians (3:03) - Meet modern Holmes enthusiasts. Future Past (3:08) - The technology and aesthetics of the period. Sherlock Holmes Re-Invented (14:05, HD): An electronic press kit-style piece covers majors parts of the production, some of which is familiar from the preceding Focus Points. BD-Live: At the time of review, only the standard set of Warner Brothers trailers were being offered for viewing. DVD: For playback when there's not a Blu-ray player around. Includes the feature only. Digital Copy: Incorporated into the DVD "Combo Disc" and compatible with Mac and Windows. Offer expires March 28, 2011. Recap The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 5/5 Special Features: 3.5/5 Overall Score (not an average): 4/5 Warner Brothers turns in an overall excellent presentation of a film that is an effective re-introduction to an iconic character. The special features package offers interesting behind-the-scenes material, but is a bit hamstrung in the accessibility department by being restricted to the picture-in-picture commentary.