DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Guy Ritchie
Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Robert Maillet, Geraldine James, Kelly Reilly, William Houston
Writing Credits:
Michael Robert Johnson (and story), Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg, Lionel Wigram (story), Arthur Conan Doyle (characters: Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson)

Nothing Escapes Him.

The hangman did his job, Dr. Watson declared the condemned man dead ... yet Lord Blackwood has emerged from the tomb to assert his deadly will over 1890 London. Is he in league with the forces of hell itself? Is the whole Empire in peril? It's a mystery macabre - and only Sherlock Holmes can master it.

Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law put memorable imprints on Holmes and Watson in this bold new reimagining that makes the legendary sleuth a daring man of action as well as a peerless man of intellect. Baffling clues, astonishing Holmesian deductions, nimble repartee, catch-your-breath scenes of one slam thing after another - director Guy Ritchie helms the excitement reintroducing the great detective to the world. Meet the new Sherlock Holmes!

Box Office:
$90 million.
Opening Weekend
$62.390 million on 3626 screens.
Domestic Gross
$207.022 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 128 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 3/30/2010

• “Sherlock Holmes Reinvented” Featurette
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Sherlock Holmes (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 22, 2010)

Back in the 1990s, filmmaker Guy Ritchie became something of an “It Boy” with the cult hit Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. This led to a somewhat bigger release – and an actual movie star lead via Brad Pitt – with Snatch.

Apparently poised to become a major director, Ritchie faded after that. Over the years that followed Snatch, Ritchie became better known as Madonna’s husband – and a punch line when he directed the missus in the much-lambasted Swept Away. Ritchie continued to work but he didn’t recapture the momentum he’d boasted in the 90s.

All of those struggles disappeared in 2009 with Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes. The director got big stars and a big budget to reinvent the famous detective – and he delivered a big hit. Avatar got all the attention during the 2009 holiday season, but Holmes still managed to earn a solid $207 million.

Which I thought it deserved, as the movie offered a fun reimagining of the franchise. On a case to save a kidnapped girl, super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downer, Jr.) and his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) find her about to be sacrificed as part of a dark magic ceremony. They save her and arrest Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong). Blackwood hangs for his crime, and Watson declares him dead on the scene. However, Blackwood doesn’t stay dead for long. He breaks out of his crypt and enacts a plan to achieve world domination.

In the meantime, Holmes attempts to cope with the potential loss of his partner. Watson plans to leave the wild world of detective work and settle down with his fiancée Mary (Kelly Reilly). This causes Holmes to attempt many different methods to ensure that his partner stays with him.

Like 2009’s Star Trek reboot, one may argue that Holmes takes a lot of liberties with its subject. I hesitate to make too many assumptions about how Guy Ritchie’s version differs from its predecessors, mostly due to my own lack of great familiarity. When I reviewed Trek, I did so after having seen everything else that’d come as part of the franchise: every movie and every episode of every TV series. I can’t claim nearly the same familiarity with the world of Holmes.

That said, I have to imagine that the 2009 Holmes treats the franchise in a similar manner. Like Trek, it boasts definite connection to its forebears, but it also takes on a much more 21st century feel.

Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on your point of view. Like Trek, I enjoyed Holmes, but I couldn’t help but think that it didn’t really need to be a “Sherlock Holmes” movie. Sure, it hits on some general character traits, but it doesn’t offer the kind of tone and impression one might expect from a Holmes production.

Never having read the books, I have no idea how good or bad Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was at storytelling. I do believe that he must’ve done way better than the tremendously muddled affair we find here. In truth, the entire “plot” is little more than a MacGuffin. The story makes very little sense, and even the parts we do understand don’t matter. The tale is a framework Ritchie uses to stage many action scenes and character interactions.

And it truth, he does quite well. At no point in Holmes does the movie sag or threaten to lose our attention. While I can – and will – question the flick’s real connection to Doyle and its scrambled plot, I certainly can’t deny that the sucker entertains.

Based on a number of factors, some will compare Holmes to the 1999 Wild Wild West movie, and I totally understand that line of thought. It definitely occurred to me as I watched Holmes, but I think this movie provides a substantially more engaging affair than West.

In truth, I didn’t hate West; I thought it was undeniably silly – giant mechanical spider indeed! – and rarely better than mediocre, but it was watchable. Holmes manages to work a good sight better. While it has its flaws – mostly connected to the shoddy story – it still comes across as a quality effort that doesn’t threaten to alienate the viewer with its stupidity.

It helps that the cast treats it well. Downey is on a real roll, and Holmes continues his hot streak. He doesn’t go far to stretch his usual big screen personality, though at least he doesn’t make Holmes as glib and cynical as the usual Downey character; his Holmes isn’t exactly super-serious, but he lacks the modern sense of snarkiness that would’ve marred the presentation.

This may sound like faint praise, but Sherlock Holmes avoids becoming the disaster it could’ve been. It’s not the smartest, most intellectual film you’ll see, but it’s darned entertaining. If you’re willing to accept Sherlock Holmes as an action hero, you’ll enjoy this one.

The DVD Grades: Picture B/Audio A-/ Bonus D

Sherlock Holmes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 sets. Though not great, this became a reasonably satisfying SD-DVD presentation.

Sharpness was surprisingly good, given the format’s limitations. A little softness crept in at times, but the movie usually provided nice clarity and delineation. Unfortunately, artifacts could make the film noisy and created a distraction. I saw no issues with jaggies or moiré effects, at least, and edge haloes failed to appear. Source flaws were non-existent.

In terms of palette, Holmes stayed with a decidedly chilly set of colors. Only shots of Irene boasted any moderately vivid tones, as purples and reds appeared in her scenes. Otherwise, this was essentially a monochromatic, sepia affair. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows were decent. I thought some low-light shots could be a bit too thick, but they weren’t a significant problem. Overall, this was a satisfactory transfer.

I felt more impressed by the lively Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Holmes, as it offered enough pizzazz to merit “A”-level consideration. The soundfield created a terrific sense of place and threw out fine action when appropriate. The movie’s various fight/chase sequences boasted vivid material that showed up around the spectrum in a lively manner. In particular, the battle at the shipyard was a winner, as it used the speakers to serve the material in an exciting manner.

Other aspects of the track satisfied as well. Music always offered good stereo imaging, and quieter scenes were convincing, too. These showed a clear sense of place and meshed together in a pleasing way.

Audio quality always excelled. Effects were dynamic and clear, with deep bass and good punch. Music showed similar strengths, as the score was lively and full. Speech came across as natural and concise. I liked this track and thought it added a lot to the movie.

Despite the movie’s box office success, the DVD only includes one extra: a featurette called Sherlock Holmes Reinvented. In this 14-minute, six-second piece, we hear from director Guy Ritchie, producer/story by Lionel Wigram, producers Susan Downey, Steve Clark-Hall and Joel Silver, stunt coordinator Franklin Henson, fight consultant Eric Oram, and actors Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams. They discuss adopting the novels for a modern movie audience, what Ritchie brings to the project, cast, characters and performances, sets and locations.

Expect a highly promotional piece. While I don’t expect a 14-minute featurette to boast great depth, I’d like more concrete info than what I find here. Honestly, we learn next to nothing about the film’s creation in this thin, fluffy program.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Clash of the Titans (2010), Clint Eastwood: A Retrospective, Invictus, Guardians of Ga’hoole: The Video Game and The Lord of the Rings. No trailer for Holmes appears here.

Sherlock Holmes provides an effective updating of an old, legendary character. While this may rub some fans the wrong way, I like the film and think it gives us an exciting, entertaining experience. The DVD offers generally good picture and excellent audio but skimps on supplements. Nonetheless, I recommend the movie and think it’s a blast.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.4 Stars Number of Votes: 20
2 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main