XenForo Template The game is afoot between Holmes and Moriarty in Guy Ritchie’s follow-up to 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes.” Though the more-than-adequate sequel seemed to get overlooked when it was in theaters, it’s an entertaining and often fun ride through 19th Century Europe with the titular consulting detective and his faithful partner. The Blu-ray release is a solid one all around, from its presentation to the bonus material. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Release Date: June 12, 2012 Studio: Warner Home Video Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray Eco-Box with slipcover Year: 2011 Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 2:08:44 MSRP: $35.99 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video AVC: 1080p high definition 2.40:1 High definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 5.1, French 5.1, Thai 5.1 Variable Subtitles English SDH, French, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Indonesian, Thai Variable The Feature: 4/5 Now that consulting detective Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) knows who was pulling the strings behind Lord Blackwood’s villainous plot to overthrow the British government, it’s become his singular goal to stop Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris) and whatever his nefarious plans may be. There’s little doubt (at least to Holmes) that the unassuming academic is behind a whole series of seemingly unrelated events – anarchist bombings, the death of a renowned physician, and an impending international peace summit – but his end game is unclear, at least for the moment. Knowing Holmes is his intellectual equal, and thus the only real threat to his plans, Moriarty has no compunction targeting those important to the detective. The most obvious is Holmes’s longtime partner (and sometimes begrudging friend) Dr. Watson (Jude Law), who has even more to lose now that he’s married his longtime love Mary Morstan (Kelly Reilly). Brought into the fray despite his objections, Watson will again prove indispensable at key moments, though the aid of the mysterious gypsy woman Simza (Noomi Rapace) and Holmes’s brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) will show it takes more than one person (genius though he may be) to take down a madman. With the success and popularity of the BBC’s “Sherlock” TV series, which sets the crime-solving duo of Holmes and Watson in modern times, it’s been kind of easy to forget – and even overlook – the feature film franchise helmed by director Guy Ritchie. It’s not necessarily because the features keep the character in the 19th-Century, as there are some undeniably modern (and thus a little anachronistic) aspects to Ritchie’s productions. But the modern urban setting of the BBC property is representative of an undeniable vim and vigor that the films lack, despite their flashy “Holmesavision” visual effects and bombastic action sequences. That’s not to say Ritchie’s films aren’t entertaining and fun. In the sequel, Downey, Jr. still makes for a surprisingly deft Englishman (though it’s becoming more difficult to see him as anyone else but Tony Stark these days) and his brother-in-arms chemistry with co-star Law never flags. Harris, who is quickly becoming the quintessential smarty-pants villain after his turn on the TV show “Fringe,” is also perfectly cast as Moriarty and almost steals the show (Fry as Mycroft certainly does so in the handful of scenes he’s in). Unfortunately Rapace – who had a more substantial role in the Swedish “Dragon Tattoo” trilogy – doesn’t get much to do. She’s never relegated to a damsel in distress per se, but given her past credits it’s obvious she could have handled more. The “game of shadows” of the title proves adequate, if a little over-complex at times, with the ambitions fueling it seeming a little...pedestrian, once revealed. More compelling is Moriarty’s cynical, yet all-too-true evaluation of the human condition. That Holmes merely acquiesces to it makes it all the more brutal, and ultimately the superior motive for a villain of Moriarty’s caliber. Video Quality: 4.5/5 The 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is framed at 2.40:1 and features strong blacks, excellent textural details, and a rich (though slightly desaturated) color palette. Contrast can vary a bit in the darkest of scenes and during the “Holmesavision” sequences there’s some flickering that I can only assume is intentional or an unavoidable visual effects byproduct. The transfer also appears free of digital processing artifacts from sharpening or noise reduction measures. Audio Quality: 4.5/5 Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp and clear. Surround effects can be quite aggressive but also nicely balanced and rendered with the score, lending both street scenes and action sequences a great, immersive quality. LFE drops in with explosions both large and small, but never pushes things too far. Consequently the most action-packed scenes won’t be rattling the walls, but will handily get the point across. Special Features: 4/5 The bulk of the wide-ranging bonus material is wrapped up in Maximum Movie Mode, but the integration with the feature and ability to easily advance through the material effectively balances the need for both informational context and content accessibility. The digital copy and DVD round out the package by providing additional viewing options. Maximum Movie Mode with Robert Downey, Jr. (2:08:44): The actor hosts the enhanced picture-in-picture commentary feature, which includes jumps to still image galleries, on-set interviews with the cast and crew, behind-the-scenes footage matched with their respective scenes, links to Focus Points (which are also accessible independently), and Downey, Jr. providing his wisecracking commentary on key sequences. There are gaps between Movie Mode elements, but users can easily skip to the next set with a directional button on the remote. Though some may prefer to access all the content separate from the feature, the integration of the supplements in context with the film and a painless method to move through it makes a good case for all bonus material to be presented this way. Focus Points (34:59, HD) Holmesavision on Steroids (4:02, HD): Filmmakers describe how they amplified the presentation of Holmes predictive abilities. Moriarty’s Master Plan Unleashed (7:09, HD): Takes a look at the character of Holmes’ arch nemesis and the actor who plays him. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Perfect Chemistry (5:18, HD): Downey, Jr. and Law talk about working together again and the nature of the Holmes-Watson relationship. Meet Mycroft Holmes (5:30, HD): Takes a look at the character of Holmes’ older brother and the actor who plays him. Sherlock Holmes: Under the Gypsy Spell (4:02, HD): Takes a look at the character of Madam Simza Heron and the actress who plays her. Guy Ritchie’s Well-Oiled Machine (3:04, HD): Cast and crew talk about working under the director’s leadership. Holmes without Borders (5:51, HD): Takes a look at the film’s various international production locations. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Movie App: The free app for both iOS and Android devices provides additional content in context with the film after what appears to be a simple syncing procedure. It looks like an intriguing feature (for those who don’t mind multi-tasking during a movie), but I was not able to test the app myself since I don’t have a suitable mobile device. Ultraviolet Digital Copy: Offer expires June 12, 2014. DVD: The disc includes the main feature presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic video and Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, French and Spanish. Special features are limited to just the first three Focus Points featurettes. Recap The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4.5/5 Special Features: 4/5 Overall Score (not an average): 4/5 Warner Home Video delivers a fine presentation for Guy Ritchie’s entertaining Sherlock Holmes sequel starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. The bonus material is wide ranging and thorough, and further enhanced through the effective implementation of Maximum Movie Mode.