Sherlock Holmes is a fun take on the classic character and while the pacing is a bit off and even after all these years not sure about RDJ’s portrayal, the actor does have charisma in spades helping to keep this as an entertaining mystery-thriller.
Genre(s): Mystery, Suspense/Thriller, Crime
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 128 min. – $24.99 | September 1, 2020
Date Published: 08/28/2020 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K Ultra HD I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
Note: The screen captures were taken from the Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K Ultra HD transfer.
THE MOVIE — 3.5/5
Note: This portion was copied over from my 2010 review. After re-watching for the first time since, my opinion pretty much remains the same.
Sherlock Holmes is one of the most surprisingly unusual films of 2009; not necessarily in a good or bad way, just unusual for the fact it’s a PG-13 historical action-adventure directed by an R-rated gangster-comedy-drama centric Guy Richie. It’s also a reintroduction of a prominent British character played by the equally prominent and of the past few years, on-fire American actor in Robert Downey Jr.
This wildly re-imaginative adventure, we open with Sherlock Holmes (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.) and his faithful sidekick Dr. Watson (JUDE LAW) infiltrating a cult sacrifice at the hands of Lord Blackwood (MARK STRONG) who is about to kill his sixth victim. With some swift and creative moves, the duo stops the killing just in time and arrest Blackwood for his crimes. Months later, Blackwood is set to be hanged and apparently the execution goes off without a hitch – including an examination by Dr. Watson to the fact he is dead – until they discover his grave is empty and in his casket is another man.
Meanwhile, master thief and more than an equal to Holmes in most ways, Irene Adler (RACHEL MCADAMS) come waltzing into his life with a proposal to find a certain individual. Being wary yet intrigued by the only woman he probable truly loves, Holmes realizes a connection with her request and the apparent reappearance of Blackwood who is building a coalition of sorts for a grander scheme. Is Blackwood back from the dead? Is it supernatural or something much more complex? Who is Adler working for and why? Holmes and Watson set out to uncover the truth before it’s too late.
** SPOILER ALERT **
I wasn’t entirely enamored with Sherlock Holmes mainly because the plot isn’t as grand as it likes to think with an ultimate plot reveal that was straight-up cartoonish, dark, but cartoonish never-the-less. In fact, it makes little sense. Lord Blackwood, perpetrator of the dark arts (probably went to Hogwarts), has built a clan of believers in his magic and their plan is to overthrow the British government wowing them with Blackwood’s dark powers and then I guess take over the world. If such a plan couldn’t work for any James Bond movie or Lex Luthor, why should it now?
** END SPOILER ALERT **
That said, on the mumbling words of Robert Downey Jr. – which at times were difficult to discern – the film succeeds. In short, he’s in his element now since the monster success of Iron Man. Deservedly so, he was nominated for an Academy Award with his hilarious performance in Tropic Thunder and although he’s not as prolific in Sherlock Holmes, it still is the make or break performance that makes this worthy of the ever shrinking dollar.
The supporting cast are all quite complimentary to Downey Jr. with Jude Law playing off of Downey’s eratic Holmes with a more sanity-centric Dr. Watson and the gorgeous Rachel McAdams as Holmes’ equal and adversary, a gal anyone would fall in love with. Although neither Law nor McAdams did anything memorable, they filled their roles very well and helped overcome a lame plot. Even Mark Strong getting the inauspicious job of playing the film’s primary villain, and getting the award for an actor who most resembles Andy Garcia, isn’t too bad either.
In regards to Guy Richie’s direction, I know plenty of people weren’t too impressed as he utilized styles seen 10+ years ago in films like The Matrix but seeing it used in a 19th century period piece does make it stand out and it shows the cool calculation of Sherlock and his boxing prowess are full on display which also dates back to the character’s origins, so +1 for the writers there. However, I do think Richie made the film look a tad too dark and grimy that it just looked ugly and distorted on the big screen. I know he was going for a certain style, but it didn’t work for me. I’m all for gritty, but it might’ve been too much. Of course, this is only a minor drawback to the otherwise entertaining value of the film as a whole.
With the film obviously leaving itself open to a sequel with the introduction of Holmes’ greatest foe, Professor Moriarty, I have high hopes that plot will be better developed as Downey’s charisma – as well as McAdams’ beauty – will have me going to see the sequel on opening weekend.
As it stands, Sherlock Holmes is no masterpiece but it’s entertaining and during these times, I don’t ask for much more than that.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.0/5
This two-disc comes housed in a standard black HD slim case and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. There are no bonus features on the 4K UHD disc.
Maximum Movie Mode — Guy Ritchie gives us some insights into how the movie was made via a PiP mode where the director comes on screen at various moments with the movie playing in a smaller screen and another window with some behind-the-scenes footage. What I do find cool about this feature is the commentator is able to pause the film whenever they want. You also have the option of watching a few featurettes throughout.
Focus Points (TRT 31:17) are a collection of featurettes that crop up in the Maximum Movie Mode but can be viewed individually as well if so desired. Descriptions of each are from the menu.
Drawbridge & Doilies: Designing a Late Victorian London (5:00) – Production Designer Sarah Greenwood and Co. confess to the challenges of creating a “reel” 1895 London with a Guy Ritchie edge.
Not a Deerstalker Cap in Sight (4:15) – Costume Designer Jenny Beavan, plus cast & crew reveal privileged information on updating an icon.
Ra-Ritsu: A Tutorial (3:58) – Learn the imaginary martial art form developed for Sherlock Holmes that incorporates elements of Wing Chun, Jujitsu and plain movie magic.
Elementary English: Perfecting Sherlock’s Accent (4:04) – Robert Downey Jr. voiced Sherlock Holmes in “received pronunciation” (RP) with the help of celebrated Dialogue Coach Andrew Jack.
The One That Got Away (3:44) – In “A Scandal in Rohemis,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hinted about one woman who had gotten the better of the sleuth. Rachel McAdams and others testify about the female touch in this film.
Powers of Observation & Deduction (4:01) – Producer Lionel Wigram imbued the story with hundreds of details tying the film to the Sherlock “canon.”
The Sherlockians (3:03) – The experts at a “Sherlockian” conference in New York explain why Sherlock Holmes is one of fiction’s most enduring characters.
Future Past (3:08) – A look inside the process of re-creating a past that no longer exists.
— These 8 short featurettes give some insight into how the movie was made from the writing, direction and acting. Individually they’re not all that enthralling but luckily there is a Play All option so you can watch it as one longer featurette.
Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented (14:06) – This is a normal featurette where members of the cast and crew (Ritchie, Downey Jr., Law, McAdams, Joel Silver, etc.) talk about how different the story was compared to the others intermingled with scenes from the movie as well as behind-the-scenes footage. What was interesting about this was how Richard Conan Doyle wrote the character and how the film tries to pay homage to it.
VIDEO – 4.75/5
|Warner Brothers releases Sherlock Holmes onto 4K Ultra HD presented in its original 1.78 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 2160p high-definition transfer. Although this is a rather dark movie as shot by veteran cinematographer Philippe Rousselot (who also worked on Interview with a Vampire and the two Fantastic Beasts films), with much more natural tones, even a copper tinge, so one wouldn’t think it would lend to a good candidate for the format, however I found it to be pretty good. Detail of course is sharp, both in close-ups and the more distant shots and the natural film grain and noise is well intact. The black levels were also pretty impressive, shown with good starkness while not appearing blown out.
I did do a quick comparison with the old Blu-ray and did notice some differences. First, the 4K is noticeably sharper although the 1080p picture still wasn’t bad, however it seem the Blu-ray transfer was a bit too bright in spots, while the 4K has a much better balance.
AUDIO – 4.25/5
|The disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which I’m guessing is the same or similar to the one on the original Blu-ray. Even so, it’s still a solid lossless track, dialogue comes through well enough via the center channel, albeit at times it was difficult to understand some of Sherlock’s lines, and there’s some nice depth especially with Hans Zimmer’s unique score and soundtrack. There is some depth during the action-centric scenes but nothing particularly remarkable or impactful.|
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Sherlock Holmes is a fun take on the classic character and while the pacing is a bit off and even after all these years not sure about RDJ’s portrayal, the actor does have charisma in spades helping to keep this as an entertaining mystery-thriller with some impressive visuals, although the slow-mo fighting isn’t as cool as it once was. This 4K Ultra HD release does have great video and adequate audio, so at the right price probably worth the upgrade, if only barely.