Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadow

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This sequel to Guy Ritchie’s successful 2009 cinematic reinvention of Conan Doyle’s ‘consulting detective’ finds Holmes (Robert Downey Jr) and Watson (Jude Law) joining forces with Gypsy fortune-teller Simza (Noomi Rapace) to foil the nefarious plans of master criminal Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris).

Despite the film’s criminal under-use of Ms Rapace, A Game of Shadows proves just as much fun as its predecessor. Big, bold and brash, it’s Holmes re-imagined as a blockbuster superstar. Skating by on charm and spectacle, it lacks the smarts of the source material, but we’ve always got BBC’s Sherlock for that side of the character.

Picture: This big-budget sequel is every bit as visually slick and polished as the 2009 release and makes quite an impact on Blu-ray. Presented as an AVC encode, the 2.40:1 1080p imagery is dominated by cold blues and faded sepia tones, yet still manages to wow the viewer thanks to the impeccable textures on display and the overall clarity of the image.

Admittedly, the slow-motion footage looks a little softer than the surrounding material, but that’s an unavoidable trade-off in quality that stems from the source. Otherwise it’s hard to find anything to complain about. Artefacting, banding and edge enhancement are all absent, meaning this encode scores top marks.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Given its gun-toting, fist-flying take on Sherlock Holmes, it hardly comes as a shock to discover that A Game of Shadows’ soundtrack packs a hell of a wallop. Subtlety and restraint were clearly not the order of the day when it came to mixing the audio – the sound designers have created a breathless and energetic DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundscape that gives real weight to the film’s flashy visuals. And we have a sneaky feeling that the audio during the forest chase in Chapters 9 and 10 is going to be topping a lot of audiophiles' lists of the year's best multichannel audio demo sequences come the end of the year.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: The main extra to be found is a Maximum Movie Mode picture-in-picture track hosted by a flippant Robert Downey Jr. While frequently very amusing, it’s not the most insightful account of the film’s production, so help is on hand with the inclusion of additional behind-the-scenes footage and storyboards. The Maximum Movie Mode also provides links to seven Focus Point featurettes at relevant points during the film, although they are also available to view separately via the disc’s Special Features menu.

And that’s your lost as far as disc-based extras are concerned. Annoyingly, the remaining goodies (interviews, pre-viz animatics, script-to-screen comparisons, storyboards, maps, character biographies and more) can only be accessed on a tablet or other portable device to view as a ‘Second Screen’ experience via the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows Movie App.

The Blu-ray also ships with a bonus DVD and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.
Extra rating: 2/5

We say: A stunning audio-visual package for this entertaining blockbuster sequel

Warner Home Video, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £25 Approx, On sale now