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Conan Doyle this is not, but as I stated on the initial Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey, Jr. collaboration, this revisionist Sherlock Holmes is definitely a rollicking bit of good fun. Like the first film, SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS ($36) re-imagines the consulting detective residing at 221B Baker Street for a modern audience. In addition to being a man of intellect who uses deductive reasoning to solve crimes, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr.) is also a man of action, who can outthink almost any opponent in hand to hand combat- reasoning out a strategy many moves in advance, that will lead to said opponent's ultimate defeat. Taking elements from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story The Final Problem and spinning them in different ways, SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS relies more on action and less on deductive reasoning than its predecessor. This certainly fine to a certain degree, as director Guy Ritchie's penchant for action allows him to make these sequences a visual delight, but this leaves the viewer feeling they've seen more flash than substance.

As SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS opens, there is unrest in the world, with a series of unrelated terrorist bombings that Holmes believes will lead France and Germany to war... and drag the rest of Europe into the conflict. Meanwhile, Dr. Watson (Jude Law) shows up on Holmes' doorstep on the eve of his wedding, expecting his colleague to provide the traditional stag party; However, Holmes is preoccupied with a game that is already afoot- an intricate web of events, including said terrorist bombings and acquisitions of various corporations that Holmes has connected back to one man- Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris). Forgetting to invite the rest of Watson's friends to stag party, with only other invited guest being none other than Holmes brother Mycroft (the always delightful Stephen Fry); the location for said stag outing was selected by Holmes solely for the opportunity it affords him to meet a gypsy named Simza (Noomi Rapace), who is somehow connected to Moriarty's present machination- a connection that Moriarty attempts to sever, that evening, via a Cossack assassin. Interfering one time too many, Holmes is invited to meet Moriarty face to face, at which time Moriarty warns Holmes that if he continues to interfere with his plans- Dr. John Watson and his new wife Mary (Kelly Reilly) will end up as collateral damage. What follows is a chess game between Holmes and Moriarty, as two grand masters attempt to out maneuver one another, while Holmes also tries to protect the lives of his friends. The cast of SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS also features Rachel McAdams, Eddie Marsan, Geraldine James, Paul Anderson, Fatima Adoum and Affif Ben Badra.

Warner Home Video has made SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS has been given a superb 1080p presentation that handles all the stylized touches that director Guy Ritchie and cinematographer Philippe Rousselot have added to the film's visuals. The picture almost always appears razor sharp and delivers excellent definition. Fine details such as surface textures, pores in the actors’ skin and individual hairs are all clearly visible in close-ups; even medium to long shots display excellent texturing. More stylized photography and action sequences involving high-speed cameras are modestly softer. Colors are rendered at a subdued level of saturation, and display an almost sepia-toned influence, which gives the late nineteenth century setting an antiqued quality. Blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp. Contrast sometimes displays a slight stylized push, but is otherwise terrific. Shadow detail is excellent. The elements from which SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS has been mastered are virtually perfect. A veneer of grain is always noticeable, which keeps the presentation organic.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Don't let the period setting lead one into thinking they are getting a genteel 19th century Victorian soundtrack- SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS is as big, boomy and bombastic as an action movie soundtrack taking place in the 21st century. All of the outlying channels are well implemented with plenty of directionality being present during the film’s numerous action oriented moments. Sound effects are precise and pan effectively through the channels. Even the quieter moments are quite engaging with all the bustling activity of a London or Paris street, not to mention the lifelike qualities of interiors, like restaurants or opera houses. Once again, thanks to the lossless encode, Hans Zimmer’s jaunty musical score sounds wonderful; plus, sound effects are wholly convincing. The bass channel is weighty and provides percussive force and ground shaking qualities to numerous explosions that occur within the film. 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: A GAME OF SHADOWS features Warner Brothers immersive Maximum Movie Mode. Hosted by Robert Downey, Jr. the Maximum Movie Mode offers viewers an enhanced version of the film with picture-in-picture pop up windows that contains comments and walk-throughs by Downey, Jr, plus 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 that include: Holmesavision On Steroids (four minutes), Moriarty’s Master Plan Unleashed (seven minutes), Sherlock Holmes And Dr. Watson: A Perfect Chemistry (five minutes), Meet Mycroft Holmes (six minutes), Sherlock Holmes: Under The Gypsy Spell (four minutes), Guy Ritchie’s Well-Oiled Machine (three minutes) and Holmes Without Borders (six minutes). Also featured is the Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows Movie App, which offers additional content after downloading the app and syncing your mobile device to the Blu-ray. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray. An authorization code is provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film, which is just a stream away.

SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS offers more flash and less substance than the first film, but remains a rollicking bit of good fun. The Blu-ray presentation is an absolute winner. Recommended.


Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2012 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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