Imagine if you are twelve right now. Chances are, you have heard of Sherlock Holmes, and you likely know he is a classic literary character created Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You probably are aware of his assistant Watson as well, and together, they solve mysteries around London.

So, you decide to see a movie about the character starring the charismatic Robert Downey Jr., and this will be your introduction to Holmes. This is what you get: a Holmes who when bored, enters into pit fights against men twice his size, has a maturity level on par with your 12-year old mind, plays the typically glossy/sarcastic summer movie action role, and can swordfight with the best of them.

If anything, it sort of comes off as insulting, as if director Guy Ritchie, along his co-writing crew of Michael Robert Johnson and Anthony Peckham, felt today’s movie audiences are not intelligent enough to withstand a brooding mystery on its own.

To their credit, the mystery is a fun one, involving secret societies and black magic. However, when the solution is revealed by Holmes (as the bad guy hangs perilously from Thames Bridge under construction), you have to question why he failed to tell anyone earlier, calming the terribly alarmed public in the process.

Sherlock Holmes is filled with characters you would expect to find in a 90-minute movie, those dumb summer light-hearted fares where a lot of stuff blows up. This one goes on for over two hours including the credits, inserting terribly unnecessary characters such as a love interest for Watson named Mary (Kelly Reilly) who literally does nothing for the entire film.

Guy Ritchie directs aggressively, keeping the camera moving to make people walking up to a door seem like an epic event. It leads to some fun, if needlessly long action scenes such as a brawl by a boat. It never actually leads to any specific plot point, but it is fun to look at, while the effective special effects provide a bit of spectacle.

As Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. is fun and lively, but the debate comes into play when you question why this character needs those qualities in the first place. Why did no one think a dark mystery on the streets of London could have entertaining qualities with just a flash of humor? This one goes for it all more or less because the studio provided money to make it so. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]

Warner provides a VC-1 encode for Sherlock Holmes that suffers from fewer problems compared to their other recent modern encodes. Ritchie shoots mostly in low light, keeping the film surprisingly dark. Black levels are adequate, although hardly striking. Rarely do they drop into a pit of gray. Color is also muted, pale if you will. Nothing carries any level of pop or vibrancy, keeping with the cloudy, dreary nature of the environments.

Sharpness is firm, delivering detailed environments and faces. Holmes’ office is loaded with random knick-knacks, and each is visibly defined. Close-ups always perform perfectly, resolving a wide range of facial textures and detail. Mid-range shots likewise provide the same level of texture. Clothing, especially the police jackets, showcase stitching and patterns wonderfully. At a distance is where the transfer takes on what is becoming a trademark Warner “digital” look, faces becoming solid, flat, and processed. Buildings, while revealing minute details such as individual bricks, shimmer during movement like the prison window at 21:24.

Artifacting is a struggle against solid colored walls, such as McAdams in her home after taking a shower. At 8:56, smoke causes some noticeable artifacting. A small hint of ringing is at its worst when Blackwood makes his appearance to the “cult” he will be taking control of. That is minor at the worst. Diffused lighting is regularly used on scenes featuring female characters, making the contrast appear slightly blown out, but is obviously intentional.

Grain is left intact, spiking along with some digital noise on certain effects shots. The approach to the slaughterhouse by boat appears digital, likely a scene shot with the Phantom HD camera as Sherlock Holmes was shot on film as well as digitally. This is the only scene, and it is a short one, that carries such a distinctly un-film like quality. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

Just as the opening logos appear on screen, a horse drawn carriage approaches in the rear left channel. You can hear the sound growing in intensity as is passes, and then cleanly tracking into the front left as well. That is the beginning of what is undoubtedly a reference quality audio presentation, with insanely aggressive rears active in almost every scene, and clarity that represents everything uncompressed audio should be.

Ambiance is constant, from clanging silverware against plates in a restaurant to street level sound such as chatter/horses moving about. Each channel is fully distinct, utilizing the stereo channels as well as the rears. Enveloping is a perfect description. Hans Zimmer’s score, when at is peak, brings wonderful crispness and a powerful low end with it. It is forceful without being overpowering.

Bass is spectacular. As Holmes pictures how a fight will turn out based on his actions, his punches slam into his opponent as forcefully as one could imagine. Every hit produces a room-shaking effect that is wonderfully satisfying. The boat brawl, especially as its containing ropes are snapped, produces a smooth bass effect, aided by flawlessly clear highs as a metal chain holder begins splintering wood. Gunfire is also superb, offered the same qualities within this DTS-HD effort. Dialogue is well prioritized, even when Downey Jr. speaks a bit low, even into a mumble. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Audio]

Warner delivers another edition of their “Maximum Movie Mode,” which allows director Guy Ritchie to walk onto the screen to chat about the film, in addition to picture-in-picture featurettes. Turning this on extends the movie by about three-minutes due to pauses by Ritchie, or you can watch the featurettes by themselves (eight in total) running 31-minutes.

A basic making-of featurette titled Sherlock Holmes Reinvented runs 15-minutes, providing little information you won’t find in Max Movie Mode. BD-Live support will feature a live chat with Robert Downey Jr. (which should be archived when it is over like other chats have been), but contains nothing else specific to the film. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Extras]

0 thoughts on "Sherlock Holmes (2009) Review"

  1. Pingback: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Review |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *