Mr. Holmes (Blu-ray Review)

Mr-HolmesOscar® nominee Sir Ian McKellen* joins fellow Academy Award® nominee Laura Linney**in the mysterious and intriguing Mr. Holmes, arriving on Digital HD October 27 and Blu-ray™ (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital), and On Demand November 10 from Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Miramax®. Based on Mitch Cullin’s novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind,” written for the screen by Jeffrey Hatcher (The Duchess), and directed by Academy Award® winner Bill Condon (Best Adapted Screenplay, Gods and Monsters, 1998), Mr. Holmes finds a retired Sherlock returning to close the book on the one mystery he could never solve. Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival and released theatrically in July by Miramax® and Roadside Attractions, the film is Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh.

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See the world’s most famous detective as you’ve never seen him before, portrayed by acting legend Ian McKellen, in this ingeniously plotted suspense-thriller. For thirty years, Sherlock Holmes has been haunted by his final case, one that remains unsolved. Now, spurred by a mysterious trip to Japan, Holmes quietly slips out of retirement to confront the ghosts of his past-and a spellbinding mystery that will take all of his deductive powers to solve.

When it came time to ask “Who wants to review Mr. Holmes” I jumped at the chance because I enjoyed the trailer and thought this would be a fun role to see Ian McKellan take on.  This was met with discord from Why So Blu head honcho Brian White with disdain and he thought the movie looked terrible.  Aaron Neuwirth countered with an “Its ok” as he had seen it.  Gerard, like myself, had heard it was good and thought it looked good too.  And on the overall consensus, Rotten Tomatoes loved the film.  Well, now having seen it, I have to say it lies somewhere between both Brian and Aaron’s thoughts.

McKellan is terrific here and really the sole reason to recommend the film.  I found it very strange that a man of his age would have to be made up to look “more elderly” for scenes.  As the film started I was questioning myself that I didn’t think McKellan was looking “that old” recently (From social media posts and the like).  But, the movie flashed back and brought front and center this strange notion of making an old man even older.  From both the flash back and the present time, McKellan is terrific.  He shares some screen time with Laura Linney, whom I wish had more to do in this film, but she is good every time we do get to see her.

This film really isn’t bad, its just…slow.  Like the elderly Sherlock Holmes movements, the film really trudges and takes its time.  If the film was paced to fit its character, then bravo.  And I’m not against slowly unfolding movies, but this one was that Grandpa ahead of you in a single lane going 25 mph in a 50 mph speed limit.  You just sort of want the film to move forward.  Its mysteries are good and I wanted to be more engaged in them, it just took too much time.  I will say, the last 1/3 of the film does pick up and move.

Mr. Holmes definitely feels if PBS had made its biggest budget feature film for a wide release.  It looks like a movie that’s not far removed from being some television special or film.  And maybe that’s the problem.  They may have had an excellent one hour television mystery at hand here, but they stretched it about 40 minutes too long.  There was a film that released earlier this year entitled Slow West, but I can’t help but think that may have been an apt title for this too.  McKellan is good, and those who are fans of the Sherlock Holmes character should take a look, but for those unsure, just think about some of the pacing things I pointed out in my review before you make your decision.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  As expected, this film looks pretty terrific on Blu-ray.  From clothing texture, skin and surfaces, detail is pretty abundant.  The image features a rich and bold look to everything, keeping sharp and intact.  Not an outstanding transfer, but a very full feeling picture.

Depth:  Exteriors scenes look very good, with the bee keeper scenes being a highlight.  Spacing between actors/objects and environment looks very good.  Movements are natural and smooth.

Black Levels:  Blacks come across well in the film.  There are a lot of darker clothing objects worn and shadows used in city scenes that still maintain most all if its details.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors take on a more lifelike tone in their appearance.  They do find themselves being rich and bold.  Greens pop out more than most.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintain appearance throughout.  Wrinkles, dirt, sting marks, stubble and all sorts of facial details are plenty apparent in most all shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  They really could have gotten away with a 2.0 track on this one and been just as effective.  I’m not saying this track is awful or anything, but its usefulness as a 5.1 mix isn’t asked for by the script at all.  Everything is loose and balanced and gives a nice elegant feel to watching.

Low Frequency Extension:  Mostly LFE is kept to doors opening and closing and music cues.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Front channels keep good track of movement across the screen and character’s/action placement.  Rear speakers primarily are the keepers of ambient sound, with minimal moments of finding their own identity.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are crisp and full.  Set at a great volume, this is where the track needs to shine and it does so.

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Mr. Holmes comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Mr. Holmes: The Icon (HD, 2:21) – A promotional piece on telling a unique story about a well known character.

Mr. Holmes: The Story (HD, 2:49) – Another bit of more promotional affair focusing on the film’s plot.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:25)

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Mr. Holmes seemed like such a fun “concept + actor” film, but it ultimately takes what could bet a great 1-hour television special/movie and stretches it into a 100 minute feature film.  The story is there, the performances are there, the production is there, but it just moves so slow.  The Blu-ray presentation for it is terrific, though lacks any sort of worthwhile extras.  Mr. Holmes is a rental at best.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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