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Sherlock Holmes [2-Disc Blu-ray] by Directed by Guy Ritchie
Review by Charles Mohapel
Warner Home Video Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B001OQCV6K
Date: 25 April 2010 List Price $35.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: IMDB.com / Show Official Info /

When diehard fans of Sherlock Holmes heard that Hertfordshire-born Guy Ritchie was set to direct a new Sherlock Holmes film, I can only imagine the confusion, consternation, and outrage that followed. Add to that the "questionable" casting of Robert Downey Jr., an American, in the lead role of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary gentleman detective, a British icon.

Directed by Guy Ritchie
Writers (WGA):
Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, and Simon Kinberg (screenplay)

Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson (screen story)

Arthur Conan Doyle (characters Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson)

Cast (Cast overview, first billed only):
Robert Downey Jr... Sherlock Holmes
Jude Law ... Dr. John Watson
Rachel McAdams ... Irene Adler
Mark Strong ... Lord Blackwood
Eddie Marsan ... Inspector Lestrade
Robert Maillet ... Dredger
Geraldine James ... Mrs. Hudson
Kelly Reilly ... Mary Morstan
William Houston ... Constable Clark
Hans Matheson ... Lord Coward
James Fox ... Sir Thomas
William Hope ... Ambassador Standish
Clive Russell ... Captain Tanner
Oran Gurel ... Reordan
Ed Tolputt ... Anonymous Man (in coach) (Professor James Moriarty)

Guy Ritchie's 2009 film Sherlock Holmes is most definitely not your father's Sherlock Holmes film - and it's not meant to be. Speaking with friends who are far more knowledgeable about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation than I, Ritchie's interpretation is actually much closer to to the books than any versions on the silver screen or on television. In those days, gentlemen were expected to be skilled in fisticuffs, a life skill learned in the English public school system. That said, the 2-Disc Blu-ray version of Sherlock Holmes contains one Blu-ray Disc with the film and bonus features and one Combo Disc with the DVD of the film, as well as the Digital Copy of the film.

While Robert Downey Jr. is not the first actor that most people would imagine playing Sherlock Holmes, director Guy Ritchie believed strongly in Downey's ability to make the role his.

When I watched this Sherlock Holmes in the theater, I was mildly disappointed and left after the end credits feeling that this film did not live up to all the hype. While I'm nowhere near to being an expert on Holmes, it was pointed out to me that Guy Ritchie's interpretation is actually more authentic to the original source materials (i.e. the books) than all the movies and television shows where Holmes is portrayed as something of an intellectual dandy.

After having my misconceptions corrected, I was eager to see Sherlock Holmes on Blu-ray. After watching the Blu-ray disc for the first time, I began to see things I had failed to notice or register in the theater. Upon solemn reflection, I can only conclude that I had been having a bad day when I watched it on the silver screen. Watching the Blu-ray disc several more times has me convinced that this is an entertaining film and I've read on IMDB.com that Guy Ritchie is listed as director of the untitled Sherlock Holmes sequel which is in pre-production and has a tentative release date of 2011. I'll take a wild guess and predict another Christmas Day release.

Of all the Special Features on the Blu-ray disc, the only ones I could access on my 2 year old Blu-ray player (even with the latest firmware update) were "Focus Points" with Guy Ritchie (Director), etc. (31:17), and "Behind The Story: Sherlock Holmes Reinvented" with Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Robert Downey Jr., Steve Clark-Hall, Joel Silver, Susan Downey, Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams (14:06). Since my player doesn't have either BonusView or BD-Live, I was not able to enjoy the Blu-ray disc to its fullest.

"Focus Points" was an excellent featurette, offering much appreciated additional information on several scenes and providing a marvelous glimpse into making the film. "Behind The Story: Sherlock Holmes Reinvented" was an excellent featurette about the conscious decision to make the film the way they did. While not taking the main plot from any book in particular, they very wisely kept the flavor (or should I say "flavour") of Sir Arthur's writings. For me, the most memorable "Focus Point" was where Dialect Coach Andrew Jack talked of how he had worked with Robert Downey Jr. on Richard Attenborough's Chaplin (1992) and Restoration (1995).

I'm very disappointed that Warner Home Video chose to put the other bonus features such as Picture-in-Picture, Storyboard Comparisons, Still Galleries, Focus Points, and Timelines in WB Maximum Movie Mode which requires BonusView or BD-Live enabled Blu-ray Disc Players.

As for the Combo disc, all it holds is the DVD version of Sherlock Holmes, as well as the Digital Copy for PC and Mac of Sherlock Holmes. There are absolutely no bonus features on the Combo disc.

Pros:
Sherlock Holmes on Blu-ray is gorgeous and sounds great
"Focus Points" and "Behind The Story: Sherlock Holmes Reinvented" are both excellent
Adding the Combo disc with the DVD version and Digital Copy for PC and Mac is a great value added feature to the 2-disc set

Cons:
Only "Focus Points" and "Behind The Story: Sherlock Holmes Reinvented" are viewable on Blu-ray disc players without BonusView or BD-Live
Zero bonus features on the Combo disc

Unrated:
All the other bonus features that require BonusView or BD-Live

I imagine that these other bonus features are probably on a par with "Focus Points" and "Behind The Story: Sherlock Holmes Reinvented", but I am not willing to swear to that.

My conclusion is that the 2-Disc Blu-ray version of Sherlock Holmes is a good buy, but would have been better with unrestricted access to more of the bonus features, and bonus features on the DVD disc. As for the Digital Copy, either let the buyer go to a designated website, download it, and give them a password to unlock it, or put the Digital Copy on a third disc, both options have been used successfully by other studios.

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