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Sherlock Holmes - Blu-ray Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}American author and cartoonist James Thurber, sounding off about the American phrase â"What makes him tick" once declared that it is the weak mind â"looking for simple and singular solutions, that uses that foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm." There is no better character than Sherlock Holmes to best illustrate the shifting thunderstorm that is the fragility of the human mind. Throughout the many incarnations of Holmes, from Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett, the complexity of the mind at work and at play in the art of murder has been a storyline focus; however, each incarnation of Holmes drifts him further away from his own thunderstorm-like control and complexity; Holmes is not a simple man and he was never intended to be portrayed as such. He is a flawed character full of snaking vices - with a spirit eternally locked in the bi-polar nature of the emerging modern times; he's up and then he's down and then he's up again onto another case. Thankfully, in the capable hands of Robert Downey Jr., the character - as intended and imagined by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle after reading Edgar Alan Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue - makes a much celebrated return to his origins on 221B Baker Street, London in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes.

Based on an original story by Lionel Wigram, Sherlock Holmes opens with a strong and inspiring continuous action sequence (comparable to the opening effectiveness of Speilberg's finely aged Raiders of the Lost Ark) giving the audience a taste for the high-spirited chemistry between Holmes and Watson (Jude Law in perfect form as the cherished confidant of Holmes) as they apprehend the murderous Lord Blackwood (an slickly dangerous Ritchie regular Mark Strong) who is busying himself with a little homespun black magic. Upon his capture and subsequent hanging, Blackwood promises to Holmes that he will return for he has much work to do concerning the formation of a secret society. Holmes and Watson are called in for help when it appears that Blackwood has done just that returned from the dead more powerful and influential than before. When Holmes' old flame and jewel thief, Irene Adler (a sizzling Rachel McAdams), turns up to complicate the hunt for Blackwood and his minions - by mining information for an unnamed source Holmes finds his own actions comically aroused by the devilish antics of detective work and is almost immediately at odds with friend especially Watson when he tries to settle down his fiancée (Kelly Reilly) and foe and even with himself.

Sherlock HolmesDowney is perfectly cast as the sleuthing and slumming Holmes. He has started a performance here which will rival Johnny Depp's perfect actor-to-character melding of Captain Jack Sparrow in film history; it's that intriguing and that satisfying of a performance. His charming intelligence in the role is equal to the amount of wit delivered in the breadth of his lines; a simple glance to Watson becomes a layered gesture wrought with information. Ironically, Ritchie had someone else in mind for Holmes someone younger - but you wouldn't guess that from this performance; it comes across as somewhat tailor made for Downey's chops and the audience revels in it. Downey's performance being very physical this time out - is also a lot of fun to watch. Using the skills picked up for his performance of Charlie Chaplin in Sir Richard Attenborough's Chaplin, and self-confessedly so, Downey is physical in the comedy arena again and the pratfalls work insanely well.

Jude Law's Watson, lacking the sharpened analytical mind of his friend, is equal to Holmes in wit and physical strength; however, his humanity is what keeps Holmes in the detective business. His emotions normal and pedestrian as they are - keep Holmes somewhat grounded in the real world. He, as a character, is the perfect foil for the lunatic mind processes of Holmes and he enjoys his status as the everyman, the soldier, and first and foremost the companion. Law communicates this with the slightest of jabs at his friend and gestures throughout the film never taking anything except their friendship seriously. Law's performance alongside Downey's is a marvel and the two make a striking and formidable team that will have audiences returning for more having missed so much of their rapid-fire banter from all the laughter the first time.

For those boohooing and crying foul about Guy Ritchie's name being attached to direct Sherlock Holmes, suggesting that he will ruin the film by inserting his trademark â"too cool for film school" manic camera tricks (ala Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Rocknrolla) and give the audience too much of his brand of ultra-violent wit (Snatch), you can relax because what he brings to the film is a confidence and an unflappable cool that adds to the performances the weakest being from young starlet Rachel McAdams - and to the surefooted sense of the story. Ritchie is a force behind the camera in Sherlock Holmes. The film's style is visually appealing, but not in an oversaturated sense and his camera is in constant play, but not annoyingly so as many a naysayer had previously feared. Ritchie does incorporate his innovative camera shots but in a singular step-by-step motion slowed to illustrate how Holmes' mind deducts the causes and the effects; however, never do the camera tricks blatantly scream out Ritchie's name.

Turning out an inspired piece of literate music for the movie is Hans Zimmer. His sharp and haunting score is dementedly dodgy at times, but also eerily jaunty despite the weight it carries in tone and mood. The score is marked with a strange hybrid of sounds: the banjo paired with a galley of wavering strings and an accordion all brought in one at a time and then lowly isolated (much like Holmes himself) with world-like percussion. There is a bright gusto of intelligence running through the music that adds to the rich atmosphere of Ritchie's works in exciting - but not dominating - ways. It's almost as if Zimmer, after watching the dailies himself, recognized the talent and saw a bit of Depp in Downey's performance because this score certainly harkens back to the bliss of The Pirates of the Caribbean music.

Some critics will suggest that the real deal Holmes has been jettisoned in favor of a brawn-over-brains modern detective story without seeing that Downey simply is the eggheaded Holmes of Doyle's work. He's a quick thinker, a careful observer of actions and reactions, and, as a result, able to dance a couple of rounds in the boxing ring, too. Yes, Ritchie has infused the streets and characters of London with a scruffier look and, yes, Downey isn't the holier-than-thou-type figure of Rathbone's era. He's a little rough around the edges and more than a little willing to test his physical limits in the pursuit of the criminal mind - for when the game is afoot, not only is intelligence the answer, but, as is the case with Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes, intelligence is action.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
5 Stars
5 Stars
DVD Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

You can always tell how much the studio is proud of their product by the quality of the blu-ray: better performing = more material. Alternatively, you can also tell just how proud a director is of his work by his involvement with the commentary and, if Ritchie's enthusiastic performance in the Maximum Movie Mode commentary is to be the benchmark for the Warner Brothers blu-ray format, he is very, very proud. If looking better than it did in most theatres on blu-ray isn't reason enough to purchase the movie, this release also comes with DVD and digital version of the film.

The blu-ray also features BD Live capabilities and, on the week of its release, showcased a first-watching of Sherlock Holmes on blu-ray with Downey in which he answered on-line questions.

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Supplements:

Featurettes

  • Guy Ritchie's Maximum Movie Mode Imagine a film class taught solely by Ritchie that details one movie. It's two movie screens and Ritchie is in the middle. He asks for the film to be paused and explains with great detail how certain shots were composed; the film while playing also highlights how the stunts were made via picture-in-picture mode. This is the way blu-rays should perform... all of them. It's great stuff.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented this15-minute feature, broken into several separate parts, details the making of the movie from all angles: costume, acting, set design, dialogue coach, and goes into great detail with each part of the filmmaking process. The only problem is that some of the interviews are used, re-used, and used again; it gets a little repetitive from Joel Silver, Downey, Susan Downey, and others.

Number of Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD) Digital copy (on disc) DVD copy Bonus View (PiP) BD-Live.

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