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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Apr 1, 2010.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray

    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.

     
  2. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    I rented this, glad I did, I'd give it about a 2/5. Very poorly done, boring film. By far Guy's worst film.

    The black levels were weak and washed out, no real detail. Other then that it was good. The audio was also very good, but really, lets put and end to this artsy style of cutting all dynamic sound during action sequences, it does nothing but leave the sequence lifeless.
     
  3. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    As a fan of Sherlock Holmes I really liked this updated (and in my opinion closer to the original stories by Conan Doyle) version of a story about the friendship between Holmes and Watson. The crime solving was more of a filler. I also liked where they left it off so a sequel involving Moriarty can take place.

    The video on my plasma was spot on and the audio was spectacular.

    For me it is a must buy on Blu.
     
  4. sayall

    sayall Auditioning

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  5. sayall

    sayall Auditioning

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  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Thanks for the review. I was able to purchase this BRD from WB for 19.99, but I haven't watched it yet because I'm pre-occupied with another BRD from Warner that has three films in the boxset.

    Like Parker, I really enjoyed this film when I watched it on Christmas Day at my local movie theater.



    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Cameron - that's exactly how I remember the theatrical experience being. Like Parker, I have long been enamored with the stories of Sherlock Holmes, and I found this film to be a great deal of fun. Different from the stiffer, more decorum-drenched portrayals, but certainly in-line with the spirit of the great British sleuth. This was delivered to me on release day and I am eagerly awaiting watching it again this weekend...

     
  8. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Movie Haiku

    No deerstalker hat
    MacFarlane cape coat either
    But he's still Sherlock
     
  9. Dale124

    Dale124 Auditioning

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    We rented this one last night and really enjoyed it. LOVED the audio. I actually jumped during the scene when the door got kicked in (for those who haven't seen it, I won't tell you when that was). The bass drone in some scenes was fantastic.
    I'm gonna buy this one when the new release price drops to something more reasonable (it's $30 here at the moment).
    Dale
     
  10. Adam Gregorich

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    I agree with Neil's recollection. The film had that look in the theater.
     

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