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Feature
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and Jude Law returns as his friend and colleague, Dr. Watson, in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Sherlock Holmes has always been the smartest man in the room...until now. There is a new criminal mastermind at large--Professor James Moriarty (Jared Harris)--and not only is he Holmes' intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may give him an advantage over the renowned detective. Around the globe, headlines break the news--a scandal takes down an Indian cotton tycoon, a Chinese opium trader dies of an apparent overdose, bombings in Strasbourg and Vienna and the death of an American steel magnate--and no one sees the connective thread between these seemingly random events. No one, that is, except the great Sherlock Holmes, who has discerned a deliberate web of death and destruction. At its center sits a singularly sinister spider--Moriarty. Holmes' investigation into Moriarty's plot becomes more dangerous as it leads him and Watson out of London to France, Germany and finally Switzerland. But the cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead, and moving perilously close to completing his ominous plan. If he succeeds, it will not only bring him immense wealth and power but alter the course of history.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Video
Warner Home Video's 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer of the film to Blu-ray is certainly a demo worthy experience that recreates the theatrical experience to the best of the format's capabilities. Though much of the stylistically grainy picture is dark, the transfer handles contrast and black levels very well without any artifacting or banding to muddy up the picture. Fine detail is evident throughout, as evidenced by the detail on display in the costuming and ornate set design of near turn of the century England and Europe. Being a newly released theatrical film, there expectedly weren't any instances of damage or other such anomalies present on the source material used, and other transfer problems such as aliasing or edge enhancement are non-existent. Overall there's really not much else to say about the quality of this video presentation--it's about as perfect as perfect gets and one of the best so far this year.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Audio
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that Warner Home Video has featured on the disc is just as good as the video presentation and another reason to turn up the volume. Director Guy Ritchie's films generally have a complex sound design and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is no different. Slow motion sequences, camera whips, explosions and the movie's score all have their day throughout--a sequence involving Moriarty's base of operations is especially boisterous and make sure that every channel of the soundtrack is utilized to the fullest--but not at the expense of the simpler things that make a soundtrack good, such as crisp, clear dialogue. I didn't detect any problems with the track that might take away from the enjoyment of the film, and coupled with how aggressive and playful it is, it's easy to say that this is one fine example of today's modern blockbuster soundtrack done right.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Extras
If there's one area of the disc that I didn't quite fall in love with from a technical perspective it has to be the special features. Like many of Warner Home Video's more high profile releases, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows comes equipped with their Maximum Movie Mode (MMM) picture-in-picture experience. On the whole these have largely been a hit and miss affair for me--some of these tracks have been stellar while others, well, not so much. This time out the MMM is hosted by the man himself, Robert Downey Jr., and you're own enjoyment of the feature will correspond directly to how much of his usual schtick you can stand in one sitting. While it is worthwhile to take the track in, do not expect it to be as in-depth as some of the other such features released before as it's a bit lighter on the information. The majority of the video pieces included in the feature can also be accessed via the Focus Points featurettes too, so you can still get a lot of the information without having to sit through the entire film.
 
The disc also includes the ability to interact with a downloadable app for Apple iPod and iPad devices, which I presume works similarly to a second screen feature, but at the time of this writing the app wasn't yet functional but should be by the release date. Also included in the package is a DVD copy of the film and and UltraViolet digital copy which makes a copy of the film available for download or streaming.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Overall
Overall I very much enjoyed Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, to the point I enjoyed it a bit more than its predecessor. By including Holmes's nemesis Professor Moriarty it has a better villain this time around and the fact that the part is played by the always wonderful Jared Harris is a huge point in the plus column. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law also seem to have a better grasp on their characters this time around, making the interaction between their characters all the better. Though Noomi Rapace is nearly wasted in a thankless role and the story still makes it feel like a period action film rather than what one would expect from a more sleuthing and mysterious Sherlock Holmes piece, it overcomes these shortcomings and all comes together quite nicely. Overall if you liked the first film chances are you'll find a lot to like about this one since it largely delivers more of the same in every department, and those that didn't will not be converted the second time around with the detective duo. Warner Home Video's Blu-ray presentation of the film on Blu-ray is on the technical level one of the best offerings of the year that features demonstration worthy video and audio, though it does lack a bit in the features department, and if you aren't a particular fan of Robert Downey Jr. the extras may be a near total wash for you.

* Note: The above images are not representative of the quality of the transfer.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


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