“Sherlock Holmes” Blu-ray overloaded with juicy extras

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Sherlock Holmes
Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” almost made my year-end Top 10 list for 2009. The December release was one of the last films screened for consideration, and it immediately struck me as being so unabashedly, unapologetically entertaining. I wanted to check it out one more time before I could determine if it truly was special, though, or if it just caught me at the right moment to first time through.

Circumstances kept me from seeing it in the theater a second time, however, so I was thrilled when FedEx dropped a copy of the film on my doorstep. A return with Victorian-era London was in store, with Ritchie and his willing stars — Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams and Jude Law — as guides. Would “Sherlock” live up to the hype I had created in my own memories?

Elementary, my dear readers.

Ritchie’s Holmes isn’t for purists, even though the director and his cast repeatedly point out in the Blu-ray’s numerous extras that this interpretation harkens back to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s roots. But re-imaginings are welcome with a character as established (and cherished) as Sherlock Holmes. Granted, they have a chance to fall flat on their faces. But Ritchie’s adventure moves far too quick to allow that to happen.

The story tracks Holmes (Downey Jr.) and Watson (Law) as they try and determine if the evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) has returned from the dead or is benefitting from the assistance of loyal cultists. Complicating Holmes’ investigation is the return of Irene Adler (McAdams), the detective’s intellectual match, as well as the keeper of his twisted heart. The plot has a tendency to trip over its own tail. But Downey and his crew are having such fun, it rarely matters where we are going. The ride becomes the focus, and rarely does it stop rocketing forward at a rollercoaster’s pace.

For the “Sherlock” Blu-ray, Warner rolls out the tremendous Maximum Movie Mode that they used on “Watchmen,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and others. That means Ritchie conducts a staggeringly in-depth walkthrough of the film, dissecting certain scenes using multiple monitors to give a thorough behind-the-scenes conversation about the film’s construction. The feature also unlocks storyboard comparisons, picture-in-picture clips, stills galleries, “Making of” reels on the film’s production, costuming, editing, and so much more. In a perfect DVD world, these Maximum Movie Modes would be the norm, not the exception.

The Blu-ray rounds out with the exclusive “Sherlock Holes: Reinvented” feature, which is a more traditional, yet still informative, “Making of” clip with cast and crew interviews and on-location shots. And of course, your Blu-ray is the portal to Warner’s BD Live site, where you’ll be able to access even more content.

The movie – ***1/2 out of 4
The Blu-ray – **** out of 4

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