A Double Dose of High-Definition Deduction: Ritchie's Sherlock Films on 4K

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RDJ Sherlock Holmes

Slightly edging out Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in bringing the archetypal detective and his military doctor partner to a modern audience, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law -- under the direction of Guy Ritchie -- gave us a very action-oriented Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Not merely content with armchair deductions and lording his grasp of the obvious (to him) over Scotland Yard, This Holmes enjoyed getting into physical confrontation, and in both films -- SHERLOCK HOLMES and SHERLOCK HOLMES; A GAME OF SHADOWS -- much detail is given to Holmes's foresight and planning for where to land punches and predicting his opponents' moves.

Both films are punctuated with what seems like not just mysterious circumstances, but almost impossible ones. The first film has the detective battling what would seem to be almost certainly supernatural, as Lord Henry Blackwood (Mark Strong) leads a cult and seemingly resurrects from the dead. It's not until the final act that we learn it's not magic, but technology -- cutting edge for it's time, but world-changing -- that is behind the evil. The film also pairs Holmes with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a master criminal herself, who in turn is working for yet another (as yet unseen) criminal genius -- Professor Moriarty, who ultimately avails himself of the new technology.

Surprisingly, when Moriarty becomes the main focus of events in A GAME OF SHADOWS (played by Jared Harris), this technology was not used at all. Rather, the Napoleon of Crime positioned himself as a war profiteer, having everything he needs to make money selling weapons except the war itself. Throughout the adventure, Holmes knows it is Moriarty whom he is up against, and the two engage in repartee on their occasional meets, but the bulk of the film has Holmes and a newly-married Watson on a cross-country trek across Europe to put an end to Moriarty's plans, ending with the legendary confrontation at Reichenbach Falls.

A quirky Holmes with a penchant for ridiculous (though effective) disguise and a determination to interfere with Watson's relationship at every turn, these films are a fun diversion, but ultimately not satisfying as some of the more traditional Sherlock Holmes material. Still, they are uniquely enjoyable in their own right, and the dual release of both films in 4K Ultra makes this a fine time to add them to your home cinema collection. Each release comes with both a standard Blu-ray as well as the 4K Ultra edition and an online digital code.


3.5 / 5.0