Sherlock Holmes: Special Edition (2009)

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Released 4-May-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-x 9
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 123:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Guy Ritchie

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Downey Jr.
Jude Law
Rachel McAdams
Mark Strong
Eddie Marsan
Robert Maillet
Geraldine James
Case ?
RPI ? Music Hans Zimmer

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In)
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

NB : If you read my review of this one disc edition you can skip this section.

    There are some source materials that have been made into movies and television shows so many times that you would think it was nearly impossible to do something different or interesting with them. The Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle certainly qualify in this category. These stories have been made into movies and television so much they are nearly their own genre. Many people know and love the Jeremy Brett television shows from the 1980s and 90s, others revere the Basil Rathbone films from early last century and then there are the various other television shows, movies and spoofs like The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother and Without a Clue. With such a rich and varied heritage for a character what else can really be done with it? Well, the answer lies in this really enjoyable and different take on Sherlock and Watson and seemingly it involves ingredients like Guy Ritchie, a wonderful cast, going back to the original novels rather than continuing some of the clichés, a quality mystery and a quality score. Some of the ingredients don't completely work but on balance this is the best new attempt at this somewhat stale material for a long time.

    The plot here obviously involves the famous titular detective, Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) and his partner, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), set in London in 1891. Dr. Watson is in the process of moving out of their shared rooms and getting married to his sweetheart, thus ending their detecting partnership. Sherlock on the other hand is bored and has shut himself up in his room trying to invent things and basically avoiding interaction with the world. Meanwhile, a mysterious aristocrat, Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong) is murdering young girls in bizarre ceremonies. Once he is caught by Holmes and Watson, he is sentenced to death and hung. Watson pronounces him dead but evidence starts to mount that he may have risen from the dead by some black magic power. Inspector L'Estrade (Eddie Marsan) investigates but it is the intervention of Holmes and Watson that starts to unravel the case. An old flame of Holmes, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) also pops up to either lend a hand or get in the way, it can be hard to tell.

    There is a lot to like about this film starting with an interesting and different characterisation of Sherlock Holmes, doing away with the deerstalker hat and pipe. Robert Downey Jr is excellent (as usual lately) giving Holmes lots of character, quirks and action credentials. Jude Law also does well as the action man Watson, more in keeping with the character in the original books. Mark Strong, who is making a name for himself playing baddies, is very sinister as Lord Blackwood. The rest of the cast provide quality support.

    The mystery plot is a good one and keeps the story interesting for the full running time. The pace is kept moving by Guy Ritchie's direction, however, he also allows time for character development and humour. There are quite a few interesting shots included in the cinematography (by Oscar winner Philippe Rousselot) and there are some excellent and authentic looking locations used. Unfortunately, the effect of the locations is dissipated somewhat by some quite obvious CGI such as in the ship building scene and the finale. Both of these scenes just go a little bit to far. There are also a couple of scenes early on in the film which are possibly a little too violent and would have fitted better in Lock, Stock... or Snatch. It is not the violence perse but rather that they don't really fit with the film more generally. They give the impression that this will be Lock, Stock, Sherlock which I noticed turned my wife off early in the film and it took a while to hook her in again. Having said that the action sequences are well staged and provide excitement and action to go with the mystery and adventure.

    This film deservedly did well at the global box office taking over US$500 million and placing 8th overall at the box office in 2009. The film was nominated for two Oscars, Best Art Direction and Best Score, without winning either. There are two local DVD versions available, a one disc version and this 2-Disc Special Edition available only at some retailers. There is a separate review of the 1 Disc version available.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it for younger Sherlock Holmes fans and fans of the director or action adventure mystery films in general. It probably will not impress your old gran that loves Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett. Watch it without comparing it to other filmed Sherlock Holmes and you will have a highly enjoyable experience.


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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen.This is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout with some minor MPEG artefacts and slight graininess at times.

    The colour was excellent reflecting the colour scheme of the film which relies on greys and browns to recreate London in 1891.

    There were no other obvious artefacts.

    There are optional subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired plus burnt in subtitles for foreign languages.

    There is no noticeable layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio is very good but disappointingly encoded at a less than optimum bitrate.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital Audio Descriptive 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384Kb/s.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand throughout although some dialogue was said a little too quickly but this is more a problem with the source than the transfer.

    The music by Hans Zimmer is excellent earning him an Oscar Nomination. It is  a significant part of the overall atmosphere and quality of the film

    The surround speakers were well used proving atmosphere and lots of directional effects.

    The subwoofer added lots of bass for the music and action scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     This set of extras is really one big making of divided into sections.


    The menu is still but includes some of the excellent score. It allows for chapter selection and is preceded by three trailers.

Sherlock Holmes - Reinvented (13:31) *On Both editions*

    Promotional making of featurette which covers characters, the source material, casting, stunts, locations and other similar topics. Somewhat interesting but disposable.

Drawbridges & Doilies : Designing a Late Victorian London (4:49) 

    Really an extension of the first extra, this includes interviews with he production designer and set decorator about their work.

Not a Deerstalker Cap in Sight (4:05) 

    Costume featurette including why certain choices were made for Holmes, Watson, Blackwood and Adler.

Ba-ritsu - A Tutorial (3:48) 

    Featurette about the style of martial arts used by Holmes in the film and Downey's involvement in the scenes.

Elementary English - Perfecting Sherlock's Accent (3:55) 

    Featurette on Downey's accent work and his voice coach.

The One That Got Away (3:36) 

    Featurette about Holmes and women specifically the Irene Adler character.

Powers of Deduction and Observation (3:51) 

    Featurette focused on plot and characterisation and the producer's desires for the film.

The Sherlockians (2:55) 

    Featurette on a Sherlock Holmes 'geek' society and their views on the film.

Future Past (3:00) 

    Featurette on the combination of CGI and locations.

Other Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of the DVD is exactly the same as the vanilla edition except for language options. This edition does not seem to have a Region 1 counterpart making it the best available in SD. A Blu-ray version is available locally.


    A new and inventive take on the most famous detective ever.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    This edition has an extra disc of extra but they are quite similar and not overly exciting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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