When a string of brutal murders terrorizes London, it doesn’t take long for legendary detective Sherlock Holmes and his crime-solving partner, Dr. Watson, to find the killer, Lord Blackwood. A devotee of the dark arts, Blackwood has a bigger scheme in mind, and his execution plays right into his plans. The game is afoot when Blackwood seems to rise from the grave, plunging Holmes and Watson into the world of the occult and strange technologies.
Plot: Detective Sherlock Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Runtime: 128 min
Rotten Tomatoes Consensus: Guy Ritchie’s directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary detective, but Sherlock Holmes benefits from the elementary appeal.
“The atmosphere and tone meet all new levels in UHD.”
Sherlock Holmes was originally shot in 35mm (mostly) and finished at a 2k digital intermediate — that means this is an upscaled presentation. On top of that, as per the norm with UHD releases, it was also given a HDR color grade for your viewing pleasure in HDR10.
Let me warn you with a few facts; I like Guy Ritchie films, I like the way this film was shot and I love the way Sherlock and Watson are portrayed. I will try to keep my bias out of this breakdown, but I’m assuming it will still seep through. In comparison to the Blu-ray, this new UHD presentation is a few levels darker which only aids to the films overall look. The way the cinematography was showcased set the ground work to be enhanced at nearly every level. Everything about the city and atmosphere is dirty — the streets are muddy, the alleys are filthy and the buildings are coated with dirt.
This new level of detail brings all that grime to the forefront everywhere you look. This includes dirt on characters faces, cuts, scrapes, makeup, wrinkles, scratches and debris on windows, coated mud on buildings — all the way down to the production design where ever piece of fabric is accurate down to the stitching. Dust even stands out in a more obvious way — there is one scene in particular where Watson pulls open the curtains releasing a wave of dust against the backdrop of a sunlit window — the contrasting and depth is spot on.
Something else I love about the cinematography is the way the color palette is purposely muted — everything has a desaturated look. (I’d love to see what these scenes looked like before post-production.) Usually the HDR enhances color, but in this case it adds highlights and depth to way this movie was shot — here you’ll get a lot of blacks, browns and sepia underlinings. Examples of this desaturation can be seen on Rachel McAdams dresses, green book bindings and various gold accents. It’s strange to say that the HDR did it’s job, even with the lack of color, but it did so beautifully.
(As a side note, there are some CGI shots with use of backgrounds, and they can do appear a bit soft.)
In conclusion —
I’ve seen and heard people debate the way Guy Ritchie makes films, especially when your dealing with source material that’s been around for over a century. In my opinion, I like the way he goes about making films which is why I have a bias for both Sherlock Holmes films. The way he ties the characters together and then unravels them for the viewer works perfectly for Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law’s characters — I don’t know how else this would’ve worked. Everyone will have their own opinion, but if you find yourself on the negative side, one word you wouldn’t be able to use is forgettable, because that won’t apply here.
This release is a classic example of how the UHD resolution can change an entire palette visually. Are there more details, color and stronger black levels? Yes, but the entire cinematography has been enhanced creating the grit, grime and dirty atmosphere that was intended in the first place. It pushes the film to a new level.
Taking everything I’ve said into account, you can be sure that Sherlock Holmes gets my recommendation to own. It’s a must buy for all fans of this movie! I know I love these two films and I can’t wait until we get a third. No matter what you decide to do, you can grab a copy at your local retailer on 4K & Blu-ray today.
Are you a fan of Sherlock Holmes? Will you be picking it up to own? Let me know what you think in the comments below.
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