As part of the Warner Bros. Blu-ray Elite program, Fat Guy Kevin Carr was sent a batch of free superhero Blu-rays to enjoy. Thanks to Warner Home Video for giving him a chance to watch and review Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Green Lantern and The Dark Knight again.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
What it’s about: This sequel to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film sees the titular detective (Robert Downey Jr.) emotionally dealing with losing his partner Dr. John Watson (Jude Law) to marriage. At the same time, they stumble on a world terrorist plot involving the equally brilliant James Moriarty (Jared Harris), who threatens to kill Watson and his new bride. Together, Holmes and Watson team up with a band of gypsies to foil Moriarty’s plan that will bring Europe to the brink of war.
The movie: ROCKS! – The original Sherlock Holmes has grown on me quite a bit since it was released two and a half years ago. When I saw this sequel in theaters, I did enjoy it quite a bit more. The movie takes itself a little less seriously than in the first installment, which adds to the fun. Comparing it to the brilliant BBC series Sherlock actually helps because while it gives a different (and less accurate) take on Holmes, it fills different voids. Meant to be a 19th century action hero movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is charming, silly, fun and exciting.
The bonus material: Kinda rocks! – The bulk of the features are embedded into the Maximum Movie Mode, which is hosted by Robert Downey Jr. rather than Director Guy Ritchie, who hosted this for the first film. This includes picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes, storyboards, still galleries, interviews and focus points. Additional features include the “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” movie app as well as UltraViolet, which allows the movie to be streamed on mobile devices.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: Warner Bros. does a fine job on most of its big release Blu-rays, and this is no exception. It looks sharp and crisp, and the high definition experience really brings out the grain and grit added to the film to give it a period look.
What it’s about: Ryan Reynolds plays test pilot Hal Jordan, a man without fear who is tapped to join the Green Lantern Corps. These intergalactic peacekeepers fight evil and fear in the galaxy. Their weapons are rings that give them the ability to conjure anything from their mind by the sheer force of will. However, as Jordan tries to balance his newfound power with his personal life, he contemplates quitting. When an interstellar creature of pure fear threatens the Earth, Hal must rise to the challenge and defend his home planet.
The movie: Kinda rocks! – I fall in the minority of film critics who actually liked Green Lantern. It is not without its flaws (much of which has to do with the casting of Reynolds as Jordan and Blake Lively as the love interest), but overall it’s a fun film. Made in the spirit of the earlier comic books and not the darker, grittier revamp of Green Lantern after he left Earth, it is more of a kids movie than a grown-up action film. The effects are really cool, and I enjoyed the action. Ultimately, I was thrilled to see a character I grew up with realized on film now that the visual effects technology has reached a point of being able to create it.
The bonus material: Kinda rocks! – Like a lot of big Warner Bros. Blu-ray releases, Green Lantern comes with Maximum Movie Mode, which offers picture-in-picture commentary, featurettes, character bios, image galleries and storyboards. The movie is also presented with an extended cut of the film, which makes the opening flow a bit better. Finally, additional features include “The Universe According to Green Lantern,” deleted scenes and a Justice League digital comic. The Blu-ray also comes with access to UltraViolet streaming technology through Flixster.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: Like other visual effects-heavy films, Green Lantern is definitely worth seeing in high definition. The effects look extremely cool, and the action works on any large-screen television.
The Dark Knight
What it’s about: Christopher Nolan’s record-breaking sequel to Batman Begins sees Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) facing off against a new criminal in Gotham. The Joker (Heath Ledger), a mysterious psychopath who paints his scarred face, is uniting the biggest names in Gotham crime to kill the Batman. At the same time, the Joker is setting a plan in motion to send the city into anarchy while the new, hotshot district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is moving forward to clean up the streets of Gotham.
The movie: ROCKS! – This is quite easily one of the best superhero movies ever made. Far superior to Batman Begins, it manages to be a bigger and more powerful movie (as evidenced by the IMAX footage) without turning too much into a big budget cartoon as its predecessor had. The Joker is a brilliant villain, brought to life deliciously by the late Heath Ledger. The action is superb, and the things the film has to say about civility, law, order and chaos is pointed and pertinent. This is a must-see-again for anyone excited to see The Dark Knight Rises when it hits screens later this summer.
The bonus material: ROCKS! – The two-disc Blu-ray includes the featurette “Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene” on the feature disc. The second disc multiple featurettes on the technology, the psychology of the film, image galleries and six episodes of “Gotham Tonight,” a show-within-the-movie.
Notes on the Blu-ray experience: Watching The Dark Knight is the closest you’ll get to experiencing this film in a theater again. The 35mm footage is impressive, but it’s the large-format footage that continues to impress on the home screen with the image filling the full frame of the television.