Warner Bros. brings its 2009 hit movie Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr. as the consulting detective and Jude Law as Dr. Watson, to 4K UHD Blu-ray with an upscaled transfer and nothing else new.
The Production: 4/5
The following review of the film was taken from Cameron Yee’s review of the 2010 Blu-ray release:
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.
3D Rating: NA
Sherlock Holmes was shot on 35mm film and completed as a 2K digital intermediate. Although IMDB lists the aspect ratio as 1.85:1, the image has been opened up to 1.78:1 (as was the 2010 Blu-ray release). Warner’s 2160p upscale, which adds HDR10 high dynamic range, is a slight improvement over the previous Blu-ray release. There is a slight uptick in detail, noticeably in fabric and set textures. Colors are even more subdued than on the Blu-ray, but this, I believe, was a stylistic choice at the time of production. Contrast is slightly improved, with deeper blacks and night time sequences not appearing overly lit (as they were on the Blu-ray).
Unfortunately, Warner has decided not to upgrade the audio on this release, and instead uses the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track found on the 2010 Blu-ray release. As Cameron Yee noted in his review of that release: 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
This release contains no new special features, and are only included on the 2010 Blu-ray.
Maximum Movie Mode
Focus Points (1080p; 31:17)
Sherlock Holmes Re-Invented (1080p; 14:05)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy (in UHD where available) on Movies Anywhere.
Warner’s Sherlock Holmes on 4K UHD Blu-ray offers a limited upgrade to owners of the 2010 Blu-ray release, with only slightly improved video.