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Case Number 18604

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Sherlock Holmes (Blu-Ray)

Warner Bros. // 2009 // 128 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 26th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is a master of observation. And bowling.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Great Detectives Anthology (published January 6th, 2011) and Sherlock Holmes (published March 30th, 2010) are also available.

The Charge

Nothing escapes him.

Opening Statement

Guy Ritchie's successful and hugely entertaining resurrection of the classic literary character snoops its way onto Blu-ray, and this is one case you definitely want to investigate. Okay, I'm done.

Facts of the Case

Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man) and Dr. Watson (Jude Law, The Holiday) make a pretty good team. Holmes is a genius who observes everything around him, making him an inept social outcast but a legendary investigator. Watson is his counterweight; a logical, grounded man who has a cane that turns into an awesome sword.

The latest case lands them the jackpot: the evil evildoer of evil, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who may or may not be all up into the black magics and is most certainly hatching a diabolical plan of some sort.

The Evidence

What a good time. Going from the trailers and promos, I was iffy about the prospects, suspecting that Ritchie was going to turn this Sherlock reimagining into an exercise in anachronistic hipness. On the contrary, Sherlock Holmes turns out to be a traditional action-adventure. Stocked with familiar character types and a well-paced story, it features the required elements of a twist ending, the final one-on-one showdown between the good guy and the bad guy, and a cliffhanger built to feed into the inevitable sequel.

Yes, that's formula, but it works and generates large amounts of amusement. The occult-tinged conspiracy storyline presents a hearty mystery for Holmes to defuse and is well-paced throughout, the endgame not revealed until…well, the end. Ritchie inserts a couple of large-scale action scenes along the way and, while one wouldn't normally equate Victorian England with big-ass explosions, I bought it.

Anchoring the entire endeavor is Robert Downey, Jr. who is as awesome as expected. He nails the accent, projects the genius quirks and brings a surprisingly effective physical presence to the fight scenes. Most importantly, you believe that he's always the smartest guy in the room, just the way it should be with Sherlock Holmes. Jude Law complements him well with his plucky, sarcastic Watson, and Mark Strong is great villain, dark, malicious and a sharp dresser. The weak link is Rachel McAdams (The Time Traveler's Wife), the requisite feisty female lead who just doesn't fit in with the rest of the sterling cast. I know you need this character to fill out the roster, but her Irene Adler just doesn't add much.

That's really my only criticism. Sherlock Holmes is big fun. Guy Ritchie obviously enjoyed what he was doing and succeeded in combining his trademark energy with an old-school literary icon and forged something unique and cool. I am eagerly anticipating the continuation of the franchise.

Warner Bros. delivers an outstanding Blu-ray. The 1.85:1, VC-1 encoded, 1080p transfer is dynamite; brilliantly detailed and awash in that high-def sheen characteristic to top-shelf high-def releases. London is beautifully realized and the picture quality serves the period locales well. The only downside is a familiar one: the CGI, while solid, suffers a bit under the enhanced resolution. Neverthless, this is as good as it gets. Ditto for the sound, a pounding, enveloping 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The party continues with the extras, a rewarding combination of high-def exclusives and orthodox bonus materials including Guy Ritchie's in-movie experience, a personal walkthrough of the film; a solid 30-minute making-of documentary; and a featurette on the reinvention of Sherlock Holmes. This combo-pack also includes DVD and digital copies of the film. Plus, Sherlock Holmes Blu-ray owners will be able to participate in a live community screening (LCS) with Robert Downey Jr. on April 1, 2010 (9p ET / 6p PT) via the disc's BD-Live functionality. Registered viewers will be able to ask questions and receive answers in both audio and text format.

Closing Statement

Blu-ray perfection meets one of the most enjoyable films of 2009. This one's a must-own.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. (Elementary).

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Scales of Justice

Video: 100
Audio: 100
Extras: 90
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile

Studio: Warner Bros.
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French, Canadian)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese, Brazilian)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• English (SDH)
• French (Canadian)
• Portuguese (Brazilian)
• Spanish
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Action
• Adventure
• Blu-ray
• Crime
• Mystery
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Maximum Movie Mode
• Featurettes
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy
• BD-Live

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