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While this latest version of SHERLOCK HOLMES ($36) may not contain the character as envisioned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or as the character has typically appeared in popular cinema over the last century, the 2009 Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey, Jr. collaboration is definitely a rollicking bit of good fun. Re-imagined for a modern audience, the consulting detective residing at 221B Baker Street is a man of action, as well as being a man of intellect. That being said, SHERLOCK HOLMES literally hits the ground running- the game is already afoot, and when we first encounter Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Dr. John Watson (Jude Law), with both men already racing to prevent a ritualized murder of a young woman, at the hands of the sinister Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). In typical fashion, Holmes prevails, while Blackwood is arrested and ultimately sentenced to death.

Blackwood’s final request is a visit from Holmes, which the detective grants. At the time of his visit, Blackwood warns Holmes of three more impending deaths that will cause great changes to the world. Shortly after Blackwood’s execution, Inspector Lestrade (Eddie Marsan) has Holmes brought to Blackwood’s tomb after it has been broken open from inside, and an eyewitness sighting of the dead nobleman emerging from his tomb. As Holmes investigates Blackwood’s resurrection, he becomes aware the villain’s involvement with an age-old secret society that employs sorcery, and has ties to prominent figures in all of the world’s governments, including those within the British Empire. Meanwhile, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the only woman from Holmes’ past to ever get the best of him becomes a key player in the mystery that he needs to unravel before Blackwood is able enact world changing plan.

Much of the success of SHERLOCK HOLMES as a film must be attributed to Robert Downey, Jr., who makes the title character completely his own and leaves the audience wanting to see more of his character as the end credits roll. Additionally, Jude Law is a perfect counterpoint to Downey, and an ideal choice for Watson. Director Guy Ritchie keeps the film briskly paced and stages the "action" exceedingly well. The cast of SHERLOCK HOLMES also features Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, William Houston, Hans Matheson, James Fox, William Hope and Clive Russell.

Warner Home Video has made SHERLOCK HOLMES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. SHERLOCK HOLMES boasts a truly top-notch 1080p presentation that is certain to please. Almost always, the picture appears wonderfully sharp, highly dimensional and bristling with fine details, in addition to offering excellent texturing. There is a bit of diffusion here and there, but not so much to ever be distracting. Colors are rendered at a subdued level of saturation, which enhances the grittier qualities of the late nineteenth century setting. Blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp. Contrast sometimes displays a slightly edgy quality, but otherwise, is pretty terrific. Shadow detail is excellent. The elements from which SHERLOCK HOLMES has been mastered are virtually perfect. A veneer of grain is always noticeable, which keeps the presentation organic.

SHERLOCK HOLMES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a terrific soundtrack that perfectly handles both the talky passages, as well as those with containing more bustling activity. Sound effects are well placed to effectively utilize all of the outlying channels, in addition to panning effortlessly throughout the soundstage. There are terrific atmospherics, as well as the excellent integration of small sounds, all of which create immersive and cohesive sonic environments. Thanks to the lossless encode, Hans Zimmer’s jaunty musical score has a wonderful sense of presence, while numerous sound effects seem as though they really are within one’s home theater. The bass channel has excellent weight and provides all the necessary percussive force that the material requires. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered and the actors' voices maintain a natural timbre. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the supplemental materials. SHERLOCK HOLMES features Warner Brothers immersive Maximum Movie Mode, which offers viewers an enhanced version of the film with picture-in-picture pop up windows that contain, director walk-through and comments, timeline, storyboard comparison, production stills, as well as ancillary programs (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Programs from the Maximum Movie Mode are also available to view independently as a series of Focus Points. Also featured is the program Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented, which runs fourteen minutes. SHERLOCK HOLMES is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). A DVD and Digital Copy of the film are also provided, with both being housed on the second disc of this set.

As I stated above, SHERLOCK HOLMES is a rollicking bit of good fun. The Blu-ray presentation is excellent. Highly recommended.



Sherlock Holmes (Limited-Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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