It still holds true, after my Blu-ray viewing last night, that I generally like movies more the second time around. So why would last night’s viewing of Sherlock Holmes on Blu-ray be any different? I’m not going to lie and say that I fell head over heels in love with the film concurrently with my second viewing, but I definitely enjoyed it more and I was also able to hear much of the dialogue that was so hard to make out during my initial theatrical experience. However, I’m quite certain you did not stop here to read about me going on and on about the value in giving films a second chance. So let’s dispense with the pleasantries and move on to the gritty and grimy underground world of Sherlock Holmes.
Even if I used terms such as clever, bright, ingenious, adept, cunning, discerning, quick-witted, resourceful, shrewd, versatile and keen, I could never come close to describing the attributes of the fictional character Sherlock Holmes. And to think, I once thought the television character MacGyver was the most brilliant and quick thinking man I ever known. That all quickly changed the moment my wide-eyed baby blues affixed themselves, many months ago, to the big screen debut of Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the legendary Scotland Yard detective Sherlock Holmes, and the many debacles and inconceivable situations he narrowly escapes.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional character of Sherlock Holmes first appeared in publication circa the late nineteenth century. Holmes is most famous for his sharp intellectual skills and his acute use of observation, quick deductions and forensic science skills to solve what many believe to be unexplainable cases. If you witnessed what I did on Monday night, then you know there’s arguably no case or mystery that Sherlock can’t solve. He’s a master of disguise, proficient in weapons and martial arts, adept in making quick and precise deductions, prevalent in anatomy and chemistry, experienced with the women, a skilled musician and much more. Those are actually just a few of the traits that define the qualities found within Sherlock Holmes and I am elated to report that Guy Ritchie’s vision and Robert Downey Jr.’s incarnation of the famous detective nailed those with precision and accuracy.
Of course, that’s not to say that Robert did not have any onscreen help with his titular role. There’s also a co-star by the name of Jude Law I would like to talk about. Maybe you heard of him before? The onscreen marriage/chemistry of Robert’s Holmes and Law’s Dr. Watson was a union formed with more impeccability than Match.com could ever promise to deliver for a slight nominal fee. The film also stars Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, the only woman who apparently has ever got the best of Holmes, Kelly Reilly who plays Watson’s love interest and finally Mark Strong who plays the duo’s nemesis Lord Blackwood.
The film is set in the late nineteenth century and simply put; it revolves around the plight of Holmes and Watson who are trying to stop evil Lord Blackwood from taking control over Britain. It is billed as an action-adventure mystery. Take note of the first word I used, “action.” There is plenty of action to go around as sometimes I felt like I was watching a Jerry Bruckheimer Pirates film instead of the sleuth mystery film I was expecting. Initially, it was a much welcome surprise as I was a wee bit apprehensive that the movie might be a bit on the dull side. Much to my chagrin, I got my prominent dose of action right from the explosive beginning. I was amazed at how the film starts like a pack of racehorses stampeding right out of the gates acting instinctively to the firing of the pistol. In my opinion, this is exactly how the second Transformers film should have began. But let’s face it; even heavy intense scenes of crowd-pleasing action don’t always consist of the essential ingredients necessary for a good film. Despite the film’s ravaging opening, Robert’s usual charismatic onscreen charm and the duo dream team made in movie heaven the feature managed to fizzle out in the beginning of act two and although I cannot point my finger at exactly what went wrong, Ritchie did successfully manage to pull me back in later on.
After seeing this film theatrically, I went home and immediately brushed up on my Sherlock Holmes knowledge/folklore and I must admit that in my opinion, Guy Ritchie’s vision and representation of the fictional character remained faithful to the short stories and novelizations of centuries ago. Guy, Robert and Jude painted a picture perfect canvas with their conceptualization of the nineteenth century world of Sherlock Holmes as they successfully deployed the necessary mix of comedic elements, action sequences and forensic investigations that made Holmes so popular in literary culture. So why is it that I am still struggling to find that perfect equilibrium in my mind and shout with emphatic applause that this is a must-see film on Blu-ray? Well, it’s probably because it isn’t, but I’m still not going to audaciously admit it.
While the action could be combustible at times, like the scene with the multiple long drawn out explosions our heroes encountered while pursuing what they thought was a perished Lord Blackwood, I enjoyed the thrill ride nonetheless. The comedic antics, references and humor lent themselves well to once again accurately depicting the fictional character of Holmes. Even the inclusion of the numerous fight scenes I felt set the record straight that Sherlock is a master of human anatomy and mixed martial arts. I mean take a look at the guy. One would never believe the opponents he is able to successfully take down just by using his quick-witted deductive logic that quickly calculates the necessary strikes. I am truly jealous that I don’t possess that power. I have never been a fan of Rachel McAdams so I can candidly admit to her part being a bit miscast, as the age difference between her and Robert are immediately distinguishable and painfully obvious. It’s pretty evident that Rachel’s character served little reason other than to set the movie up for a potential sequel with Sherlock’s true arch nemesis. Fans of the fictional works will immediately know whom I am referring to. He needs no introduction, but don’t worry…his name will be spoken several times throughout in case you can’t make that deduction quite yet.
I guess what bothered me in my theatrical viewing still plagues me now. I just can’t get past the fact that nothing gets past Sherlock Holmes. If you are watching the film and you find yourself confused as I was in segments, don’t worry, everything is logically deduced, explained and played out within that brilliant mind of Holmes. Ironically, I think that is what gave me instant satisfaction. All my questions were answered before I even walked out of the theater. I unequivocally wanted to fall in love with this film the first time I saw it and I also purposely held off on writing my best of 2009 until seeing this. Had it not been for the brilliant matchmaking of Jude and Robert, then I probably would not be so generous with my sentiments here. Long story short, you are going to want to give Sherlock Holmes a try. But just don’t take my word for it. Instead, let’s take a closer look at the Blu-ray disc’s vitals and find out why this release is damn near perfect.
During my Blu-ray screening I looked high and low and I could not find anything wrong with the 1.85:1 framed print. So I guess you are probably asking why did it not get a perfect score? Well it was the palette of colors that were used that knocked the score down ever slightly a notch. Before you shout ignorance at me, first let me explain. I did not feel right giving the video a perfect score when there are so many vivid Blu-ray titles out there that exemplify the best that the young format has to offer. The color palette here, for lack of a better term, is dull. The brightest thing about it was a vibrant red dress worn by Rachel McAdams. It’s just me nitpicking, but I have a right to do so. I am the reviewer here. Everything else in this 1080p VC-1 encode is stunning. There are no artifacts, no video noise and no blemishes to be found. Believe me. I looked. Sharpness, clarity and textures were in abundance, although darker in appearance due to Ritchie’s artistic licensing of making the film look authentic like 19th century London supposedly would have looked like. You can’t fault the guy for doing so. Black levels and contrast were exceptional. This one should’ve been awarded a 5, but I’m sorry, I would have liked to see a bit more color to award it a score amongst Blu-ray’s best. The video snob will now move onto the audio section (insert smile).
Again, I am faced with the same dilemma I encountered in the section above. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track here is also exceptional, much like the video presentation, but I did have one minor problem. It was not as bad as it was during my theatrical experience, but I don’t know what it is. I can’t grasp why I have a hard time either understanding or hearing the dialogue at times. In film class we are told to keep dialog transactions as short as possible, but the opposite is true here. In addition to the bombastic bass and action scenes, this is a very wordy feature. You need to pay close attention to every spoken word. Sometimes, despite how hard I tried to concentrate, this was a hard feat to accomplish. With that minor gripe out of the way, everything else is perfect. The action scenes are in your face and engrossing all around you (all the sudden the Flyleaf song lands upon my brain’s frontal lobe). There was one scene in particular that was so radical. Yes, I said radical. It is my mission in life to bring that word back to everyone’s vernacular (insert smile again). The scene took place in a dockside slaughterhouse where are three heroes are inside and Lord Blackwood’s voice is echoing throughout the room. The rear speakers were in full rage during that scene. And, oh yeah! I briefly mentioned the bass before. Let’s just say after the first five minutes I had to turn my system down slightly. Wow! I thought the dog was going to go deaf. I even offered for her to sit up on the couch with me, but she chose to stay on the carpeted floor, which felt like an earthquake pulsing throughout the film’s 128-minute runtime. Poor puppy.
Here’s a treat we can never expect 100% of the time on the Blu-ray format. All the special features, with the exception of the included Frisbee disc (the DVD and Digital Copy) are in glorious High Definition. Halleluiah! Now that the small talk is out of the way, let’s play sleuth and investigate every detail of all the special features that can be found exclusively on the Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray release.
DVD & Digital Copy – Let’s get the rough parts over with so we can move on to the real reason why we are here. Blu-ray! Yep. You guessed it. New to 2010 is the Warner BD/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack and this is one of them!
Maximum Movie Mode – Director Guy Ritchie delves into the world of Sherlock Holmes while you watch the movie. It includes a Picture-in-Picture track, storyboard comparisons, still galleries, focus points and a timeline. All the focus points can also be accessed independently off the main special features menu.
Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented – Here you can see how Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. brought to life the legendary sleuth. Robert Downey Jr. also gives us an inside look at how he prepared for the role. This is well worth a watch in my opinion. It’s one of those moments that should be experienced right after watching the feature film.
BD-Live – There are also exclusive features that are accessible via a BD-Live Internet connected Blu-ray player.
I emphatically encourage longtime fans and readers to check this Blu-ray release out and see how you think it matches contemporary views with historical homage to the preceding bodies of work from centuries ago. I want to warn newcomers unfamiliar with the legacy and fictional pieces related to all things Sherlock Holmes to proceed with caution. I am plausibly confident in my belief that not everyone is going to walk away from the Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray release as an instant fan. Perhaps it may ultimately take another viewing or some logical thinking to figure out why it appealed to you. Although once you figured it out, then you are ready for another serving of Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. I believe that Sherlock Holmes belongs in everyone’s Blu-ray collection for the following reasons:
- The cast
- The performances
- The exquisite and detailed set pieces
- The high octane bombastic action sequences
- The impeccable near perfect audio and video presentations
- A Hi-Def special features package that will keep you busy for hours
Do you need any other reasons to add Sherlock Holmes to your Blu-ray collection? If so, then message me below in the comments package. If you are already sold, then click below to pre-order your Blu-ray today!
Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and for Download on 3/30!