'Sherlock Holmes' explodes on to Region free Blu-ray with a particularly good looking 1080p VC-1 transfer, framed handsomely in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The image has a slightly desaturated look which combines with a fine veil of grain to add a feeling of gritty realism to late Victorian London. This fits in well with the unshaven new Holmes who eschews the 'lofty toff' image of previous incumbents of the role.
As a result of the somewhat tamed colour palette, skin tones do not have the Hollywood tan look and take on a more accurate British palour - as is perfectly fitting for the piece. Contrast is healthy throughout, although in some of the darker scenes, the blacks weren't quite as inky as you'd expect. The directional lighting used in the movie will test the contrast handling capabilities of many a display. There is an incredible amount of detail on display, be it in the stubble showing in facial close ups or in the wide shots of the interior of the House of Lords. The CGI shots of London and Tower Bridge stand up well to the close scrutiny of the 1080p presentation and throughout the movie I was impressed by the overall pin sharpness. There's much to please the eye with Guy Ritchie's take on the great detective.
The audio on 'Sherlock Holmes' comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour that hails from the Hollywood blockbuster school of sound mixing.
Right from the very opening scene, our ears are treated to the sound of a horse drawn carriage clattering on cobbled streets as it enters rear left and is panned carefully past you and into shot to the strains of Hans Zimmer's atmospheric score. From that point on you know you're in for something a bit special. The surrounds are used again to great effect as Holmes and Watson stalk their prey in Nine Elms slaughter house. As the character's voice (I'm not saying whose) moves from speaker to speaker, you feel that the dubbing mixer may have enjoyed showing off here.
As you'd expect, dialogue is crisp and clear which is good as there's a very witty script to enjoy. Only in some softly spoken scenes did I have to strain my ears a little but perhaps the director wanted us to lean forward in our seats occasionally.
This is a very impressive mix that will give your set up a thorough work out, although it's not so bass heavy as to offend the neighbours. A round of applause for the sound department.
The version of 'Sherlock Holmes' reviewed was the 2 disc USA combo release which comprises the Blu-ray of the movie and extras on disc 1, while the DVD and Digital Copy are contained within disc 2. There's a note on the disc to the effect that the Digital Copy expires on March 28, 2011.
The bonus material on disc 1 is as follows:
- Warner Bros Maximum Movie Mode
This is rather good as it has director Guy Ritchie walking on to the screen as the movie plays to treat us to several lecturer style explanations of how specific scenes were produced, what the intention was and also what problems were faced. Most interestingly, he talks about the Phantom camera used to achieve the film's slow motion sequences. It's a real film buff's dream and is far better than any director's commentary I have had the dubious pleasure to sit through. We also are treated to PIP interviews, storyboard comparisons, Focus Points (explained later) as well as stills galleries. This is all very impressive indeed and must have been a disc coder's nightmare but it works so well - and you don't need to be connected to the internet to enjoy all of this relevant material. Superb!
- Focus Points (HD, total 31 mins)
Here we have a collection of clips that may be viewed as separate items, but that also pop up during the Maximum Movie Mode at relevant points during the movie's run time.
Drawbridges & Doilies: Designing a Late Victorian London (HD, 5 mins)
Production designer Sarah Greenwood fills us in on the period set design & exterior locations used to create the London of Holmes day with on set footage & final clips. Surprisingly the use of locations such as Liverpool docks were pressed into service.
Not a Deerstalker cap in sight (HD, 4 mins)
We hear from the movie's Costume Designer about Holmes new look and the thinking behind it. Rather than being 'lofty & toffty' Holmes mind is assumed to be taken up by things other than his appearance.
Irene Adler's costume, Lord Blackwood's leather coats and Watson's choice of strong tweeds are explained in some detail.
Ba-ritsu: a tutorial (HD, 4 mins)
As Holmes is portrayed as an action hero, we hear from Robert Downey Jr and director Guy Ritchie (both martial artists) about the style of fighting used by Holmes. Stunt Co-ordinator Franklin Henson says complimentary things about working with both men.
Elementary English: Perfecting Sherlock's Accent (HD, 4 mins)
Robert Downey Jr had the services of a dialect coach to help him with the task of avoiding sounding like Dick Van Dyke in 'Mary Poppins' - which could have scuppered the movie. We see him receiving the odd 'note' from his director and the coach.
The One that Got Away (HD, 4 mins)
The cast and director explore Holmes relationship with women and in particular Irene Adler. We hear that in the books she was originally American, so the choice of Rachel McAdams to play her was well informed.
Powers of Observation & Deduction (HD, 4 mins)
Producer/Writer Lionel Wigram sums up Holmes and looks at the detective work involved in the story.
The Sherlockians (HD, 3 mins)
Here we take a look at a meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars, a group of Holmes fans who frequently get together to share their enjoyment of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
FuturePast (HD, 3 mins)
An interesting clip with a look at the compositing effects used to build up Victorian London for the movie. We get to see scenes at several stages of completion as the various layers are added to the final shots.
- Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented (HD, 14 mins)
This short standalone featurette gives us an overview of how Guy Ritchie & Robert Downey Jr set about reinterpreting the Holmes character by taking him back to his origins in the books. He is re-imagined as stranger than before, an adventurer, more dynamic, refined yet rough and tumble. While this smacks of PR puff , we do hear that having greater scope than many previous productions helped tremendously. The cast all have good things to say about their director too.
'Sherlock Holmes' blasts his way on to Region free Blu-ray with a particularly good 1080p VC-1 transfer, framed in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. A slightly desaturated image with a hint of grain adds a gritty feel to the pin sharp picture of late Victorian London.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix excels in its impressive use of the surrounds, while Hans Zimmer's score places us firmly in the Holmesian era.
Some good shorts fill out the bonus features but it's the new Warner Bros Maximum Movie Mode that film buffs will enjoy the most as director Guy Ritchie explains to camera how the movie was made, backed by PIP, storyboard comparisons, stills galleries and timeline.
The movie itself is a whole load of fun with Robert Downey Jr re-imagining the character of Holmes and Jude Law pitching in equally well as Watson. This Sherlock Holmes will appeal to a whole new generation and provide great, all round entertainment for others. Watch it tonight!
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