Sherlock Holmes (2009) 
Blu-ray Mystery-Suspense
Written by Noah Fleming   
Thursday, 01 April 2010

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Sherlock Holmes is the greatest detective who was ever created, with the possible exception of Perry Mason.  Just kidding.  This film seemed to pass unnoticed.  Not much noise was made when it was announced for production and it is disappeared from theaters fairly quickly.  Critics have mixed thoughts on the film, and for good reason.

"Sherlock Holmes" has some good acting.  That is what the film has going for it.  However, the film suffers in the plot arena.  It is not attention grabbing.  It could have been, but the filmmakers let too many moments slip away.  The audience drifts in and out of this film.

The plot is a somewhat original connection between spiritual beliefs and science.  However, at times this film feels very much like "The Prestige."  Holmes is hired to hunt down Lord Blackwood, who has been on a killing spree to gain supernatural powers.  He has a plan make England a great country once again.  For two hours it is kept a secret what Blackwood is making and what other parties are after.  I didn't have a problem with the secret.  I had a problem with the quick unveiling and then, poof the film is over.  This pandemic seems to have spread across Hollywood films of late.

The film has a corny ending that seems to set the audience up for a sequel.  However, if there were to be a sequel there is no way the filmmakers could continue with the story of the first film because there simply wasn't much there.  And there certainly is not much left.

As I mentioned earlier, there is some good acting in the film, saving it from disaster.  Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams and Jude Law all do a bang up job.  Holmes is completely believable as somewhat mad detective.  Law is a stronger Dr. Watson than the stories, but it works well for the film.

The video quality of this Blu-ray transfer is somewhat hard to rate.  Technically the transfer is quite excellent.  Faithful to the original material.  However, the filmmakers' intentions don't lend to an awe-inspiring video track.  Those that are familiar with director Ritchie's visual style know exactly what to expect when it comes to this video presentation.  Also, keep in mind the time period.  While I personally think the director over did it at times on the visual styling, the image remains true to the original.  The film is dominated by heavy blacks and deep shadows.  Unfortunately, this gives rise to crushing and poor shadow delineation.  However, these are minimal compared to other films with the same issues.  Details are dependent upon the shot.  At times soft shots lead to hardly any details or textures.  Other shots are pristine and so lifelike.  The color palette is murky to present that sepia look.  Primary colors can be found at times and they bring out some much needed depth in an otherwise flat image.  Technically, the transfer is free from any artifacting and banding, but it still leaves many unimpressed.

"Sherlock Holmes" comes to Blu-ray with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.  This is a wholly immersive experience.  While some of the sound design choices are a bit over the top at times I cannot fault the transfer.  Surround activity is spot on.  At one point in the film Lord Blackwood speaks from an unknown location and the voice swirls around the room.  While it takes you out of the movie, it is still a great effect, one that you want to hear again just so that you can experience what your surrounds can offer.  Ambience such as rain, dogs and birds is constant in the rear channels.  Reverb, such as the hall reverb during Blackwood's speech to the order is nicely spaced and provides for a realistic experience.  The dynamic range is wide but dialogue remains at a consistent level.  However, the dialogue is buried sometimes in the mix.  When it comes to dialogue the audio track is hit or miss.  At many times it seems as if the audio track is murky.  Other times the audio is crystal clean.  LFE support is nicely balanced, again perhaps a bit over the top at times.

"Sherlock Holmes" arrives on Blu-ray with Warner's Maximum Movie Mode supplemental package.  Director Guy Ritchie provides us with a Picture-in-Picture commentary track that should be a required element for every Blu-ray release.  This is a highly informative track in which the film, Ritchie and supplemental footage is all displayed at once.  While there is a lot to absorb in this track it is definitely a must-watch.  Warner also allows you to skip the PiP track and use the Focus Points to view the featurettes.  Maximum Movie Mode also incorporates storyboards, stills and a timeline.  "Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented" is a featurette covering the thoughts on the adaptation of this original story and characters to this modern film.  The package also comes with BD-Live functionality, a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy.

"Sherlock Holmes" is not the best adaptation film in the world, but it is at times engaging and a fun ride.  The audio and video quality are well above average, but the video quality might displease some audiences.  I recommend at least renting this title.
Studio Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating PG-13
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams, Jude Law, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Kelly Reilly, William Hope, David Garrick
Director Guy Ritchie
Film Release Year 2009
Release Year 2010
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 1080p (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Running Time 2 hrs. 8 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1 • French Dolby Digital 5.1 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • French • Spanish
Special Features Maximum Movie Mode: Picture-in-Picture Director Commentary, Focus Points, Storyboard, Stills, Timeline; "Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented"; BD-Live; DVD Copy; Digital Copy
Forum Link
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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