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'Sherlock Holmes'
(Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2010 / Warner Home Video)

Overview: The hangman did his job, Dr. Watson declared the condemned man dead ... yet Lord Blackwood has emerged from the tomb to assert his deadly will over 1890 London. Is he in league with the forces of hell itself? Is the whole Empire in peril? It's a mystery macabre--and only Sherlock Holmes can master it.

DVD Verdict: The new Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as the great detective, and Jude Law as his sidekick, Dr. Watson, is enjoyable, but hardly the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The fact that there were five (count them - five!) writers on this film may explain part of the problem. Then there's director Guy Richie, who's typical film is the likes of RocknRolla.

Rather than Sir Arthur's stories, which are very much grounded in pre-Edwardian thinking and culture, what we're given is a cross between Sherlock Holmes and The Wild, Wild West. And instead of the cerebral, hunter-clad mystery-solver, we're offered a slovenly rake that engages in fisticuffs as often as James West. I wonder at what the filmmakers were thinking.

While Downey is interesting, certainly, he is no Holmes. (Or, perhaps I should say, no Basil Rathbone.) Law as Dr. Watson, on the other hand, is quite convincing and the greatest asset to the film. He would almost have made a better Homes. I think this is an example of miscast actors, as well as miscast vision.

Other disappointments include the plot, which is completely far-fetched and dark, as the antagonists involve themselves in world domination through Satanism (!!!). And the flashback technique used to make sure we notice all the clues Holmes uncovers is clever once, but becomes redundant with overuse. The weakest part of the film is the ending: a fight between Holmes and Lord Blackwood, played by Mark Strong, on a broken down bridge that is so obviously CGI that the whole scene seems fake - not good for a climax.

Some of the better aspects of the film are that it is fun, and highly entertaining. I mean, how can a film about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson not be entertaining if it's done halfway right? There's just something about a detective sleuthing around the fog-laden streets of London. And Robert Downey, Jr. does bring a lot to the table - it's just not a lot of Sherlock Holmes.

Then there's the attractive third protagonist, Rachel McAdams, who adds to the Wild, Wild West feel. McAdams plays Holmes old flame who has something up her sleeve - as well working for Professor James Moriarty ... Holmes' brother! Anyway, in spite of its weaknesses, 'Sherlock Holmes' is enjoyable; but the series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce is still the best. [WS] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) and comes with the Special Features of:

Sherlock Holmes Reinvented