The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 129 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris,
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by: Michele Mulroney & Kiernan Mulroney
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 12, 2012
The game is afoot as Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law reprise their memorable imprints on the roles of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes a game of shadows where they match wits with the man of cloak and dagger from the first film, Dr. James Moriarty.
Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room…until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large—Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris)—and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Around the globe, headlines break the news: a scandal takes down an Indian cotton tycoon; a Chinese opium trader dies of an apparent overdose; bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna; the death of an American steel magnate… No one sees the connective thread between these seemingly random events—no one, that is, except the great Sherlock Holmes, who has discerned a deliberate web of death and destruction. At its center sits a singularly sinister spider: Moriarty. Holmes' investigation into Moriarty's plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his ominous plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.
As I stated in my review of the original Sherlock Holmes I appreciate the sort of up to date take on the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Watching Holmes’ masterful and endearing manipulation of Watson and their seemingly irreverent banter proves gratifying and entertaining as Downey Jr. and Law pull it off skillfully. The screenplay has a slick swashbuckling overtone that helps drive the story without making it feel campy. There is a wonderfully infectious air of humorousness that never feels inappropriate thanks to Downey’s superlative timing and onscreen charm. Game of shadows feels much the same in that is shares a commonality with the original’s wit, action and terrific chemistry between the two principle stars. The screenplay picks up where the first film left off and introduces us to the mysterious Dr. Moriarty and his diabolical plan. We see some new faces along with a few old ones which is fine.
The story has ample substance as the cat and mouse narrative is executed via entertaining banter, respectable action set pieces and engaging visuals. The problem is A game of shadows really doesn’t up the ante and lacks the freshness of the original. The pacing works but barely and the slow motion “Holmesavision” that seemed cool before is oft used and old hat here. Mark Strong’s Lord Blackwood proved a viable villain where Jared Harris’ Dr. Moriarty lacks the chops to come off as truly nefarious. There is still plenty of fun to be had especially for fans of the first film. This is my first experience with Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows. I suspect that similar to my experience with its predecessor the second time is the charm so I look forward to watching it again. For now I would say that it is certainly worth checking out but not quite up to the level of the original.
The rating is for intense sequences of violence and action and some drug material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows comes ot Blu-ray Disc from Warner featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
This film utilizes a stylized visual design that has a limited color scheme that works aesthetically well for the subject matter. The color range is limited to shades of dark blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson red, and muted sepia tones. Warm golden accents are used to break up the film’s monochromatic essence. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays with washing away detail. Whites are snappy and crisp and grays are multi-staged and layered. The film was largely shot against green screens which softened some of the background elements during wide angle pans but I never found it to be excessive or distracting. Overall I found the quality of the video to be high. It wasn’t always razor sharp but it was cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement that increased the perception of fine detail. Blacks were dynamic and gradationally revealing and shadow detail was just as strong. I was enamored by the film’s deep grays, rich contrast and intriguing use of color. Framed at 2.40:1 its images had excellent depth and a stimulating visual aura that accented the story. I didn’t see any overt signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. It looked great.
It is hard not to be impressed with the potential and innate quality of lossless surround sound. Warner is frequently utilizing DTS-HD Master Audio sound on their Blu-ray Disc releases and this is the type of film that can truly benefit from its inherent attributes. This presentation makes for an engaging and active surround mix that has extended dynamic range that renders the film’s action based elements with aplomb. There are several sequences that rock as the room is transformed into a three dimensional sound field filled with immersive 360 degree surround activity that engages the listening position from multiple directions. Low frequency effects frequently produce deep, authoritative bass that pressurizes the room. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression, exacting clarity and excellent room penetration. This is a wonderfully involving and dynamically energized sound design that features high level sonic detail, superb directional correlation, and rhythmically charged bass extension that is sure to stimulate the senses. My advice is to crank this one up, sit back and enjoy.
- (HD) Maximum Movie Mode - A look at the film/production hosted by Robert Downey Jr. via an interactive viewer. It is far from an in-depth look behind the curtain but Downey puts his entertaining spin on the proceedings.
Focus Points: (34 minutes)
- (HD) Holmesavision on steroids
- (HD) Moriarty’s master plan unleashed
- (HD) Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson: Perfect chemistry
- (HD) Meet Mycroft Holmes
- (HD) Sherlock Holmes: Under the gypsy spell
- (HD) Guy Ritchie’s well oiled machine
- (HD) Holmes without borders
- Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows App – Download the free app for your tablet or mobile device and enjoy a complete behind the scenes interactive experience that includes Storyboards, interviews, character details and more.
- Bonus DVD of Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Sherlock Holmes: A game of shadows is the follow up to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes which featured Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in an updated take on the iconic characters of Holmes and Watson. While this sequel doesn’t quite live up to the original it has enough polish, action and proven chemistry between stars Downey/Law to be worthy of your time. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video in a nicely balanced package that features top flight video, reference quality DTS-HD Master Audio sound and a decent supplemental offering. If you’re a fan this is an easy recommendation. Otherwise toss it in your rental queue and take it for a spin.
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