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Mr. Holmes - Blu-ray Review

Title: Mr. Holmes


HTS Overall Score:80

The name “Sherlock Holmes’ conjures up images of a man in an English double billed hat, a pipe sticking out of the corner of his mouth, and a knack for solving some of the greatest mysteries known to man (or at least known to man during the days of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). I grew up reading every single tale out of short stories and novels, even to this day I have my prized 2 volume “complete” collection of all Sherlock Holmes’ works. The fictional detective has lasted over a century in print and film, giving life to many an interpretation over the years, from Benedict Cumberbatch’s new show “Sherlock”, to the old Basil Rathbone films and shows, “Elementary” with Lucy Liu and the old 1980’s Michael Caine and Ben Kinsley spoof “Without a Clue”. People just can’t get enough of a detective with near miracle level powers. I confess that I was wildly giddy when I heard that Sir Ian McKellan had been cast as an aging Holmes, as the man is pretty much perfect for the role

“Mr. Holmes” is decidedly different than what I expected from the trailers. From my understanding it was to be about one final mystery that was left unsolved for over 30 years, instead the film is more of a character study on Holmes than anything. It DOES have the old man going over his final case, one that he swore was unsolved, but in reality the effort is just to show the audience what makes the famous detective tick, and what gives meaning to his life.

Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellan) has left his practice some 30 years ago and is making his retirement in Sussex country in a nice little Chateau. The year is 1947 and the Second World War has been completed. Complete with liver spots and the early signs of dementia, Mr. Holmes is living out his final days in solitary seclusion, with only his bees to keep him company. Well, combined with the company of his housekeeper, Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney), and her young son, Roger (Milo Parker). Even though dementia has started to set in and the ravages of age have taken much of his stature, Sherlock is bound and determined to once last case of his that he can’t remember finishing. Using ancient Japanese herbs, and the royal jelly of his beehives, the detective wracks his brain for every bit of knowledge still in there to finalize the one case he can’t remember finishing.

Roger is completely smitten with the tales of the old detective and soon endears himself to the aging Mr. Holmes. With Roger’s exuberance and Holmes’ incredible memory (no matter how damaged by age) the two come closer and closer to remember just WHAT happened to the case of the woman and the glove.

Despite the trappings of a mystery, “Mr. Holmes” is a character study at heart. The mystery is nothing but the motions that Sherlock Holmes goes through while we watch what age and loneliness does to a person. Mr. Munro is frustrated at being kept on under Mr. Holmes care knowing that the old man is going to die soon, while Roger desperately wants to stay and learn from the old man. Holmes himself is a bit eccentric, using his old powers of manipulation to keep Mrs. Munro on as much as possible while enjoying the simple friendship of Roger.

Simple, yet exquisitely complex, “Mr. Holmes” takes us behind the scenes, so to speak, of one of the greatest fictional detectives of all time. It’s an intimated telling of his final days, peeling back the layers of his charm, his mystique and his legend to reveal the last remnants of his soul. It allows us to see what makes him tick, as well as to very beautifully show us the extreme loneliness that a man of his personality must have gone through, as told by his final case. The one case that forced his retirement and was so devastating as to cause his mind to forget large pieces of it. The mystery of the tale is intriguing, but the true story comes in looking at HOW Holmes comes to his conclusion, rather than the events of the mystery itself.

Ian McKellan is magnificent as Holmes, and it proves my theory that he should have played a rendition of the younger Sherlock Holmes decades ago. Better late than never I suppose. Milo and Ian are the best parts of the whole movie, showing the symbiotic relationship that the boy and old man shared in recreating that final case and restoring a bit of his soul in the process. Laura Linney is nothing short of fantastic in just about everything she does, and her role here as Mrs. Munro is no different. She has a wonderful ability at being able to show all ranges of emotions through her eyes, and you can see the struggle, the joy, and the infinite sadness that she feels in every look into those lovely eyes. It’s a small cast, and while we have a few other characters that come and go, Ian, Laura and Milo make up 95% of the film, and do so admirably.


Rated PG for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking

The 2.35:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray is just as beautiful as one can imagine. Set in sunny England, the Chateau that Holmes stays out is beautiful to behold. The colors are warm and cheery during the 1947 sequences, with a light golden hue to the colors. Skin tones are perfectly accurate and contrast levels are spot on. Fine detail is superb, with every liver spot and aging wrinkle on Holmes face easily replicated. The stones on the chateau wall and the beautifully lush green English grass show up with razor sharp detail. Long shots are just as perfect, with excellent detailing wherever the camera pans. The flashbacks to 30 years prior look almost as sharp, with slightly boosted contrasts to differentiate between the ears. Skin tones area tad paler and long shots EVER so slightly softer. Blacks are deep and inky, with no signs of crush or greyed out textures and show off some great shadow detail at times.

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is a simple track, but highly effective at the same time. A character study and drama at heart, it takes a lot of the weight with the front 3 channels. The dialog is clean and free of any distortion, locked up front in the center channel, while the front sound stage is alive with a goodly amount of action. You can hear the clanging of Mr. Munro cooking, as well as the rasping of Mr. Holmes breath, or the chirping of the Sussex country birds. Surrounds get a decent amount of activity with the outdoor scenes with Holmes and Roger attending the bees and even the sounds of an approaching carriage can be heard in the background. LFE is tight and punchy, adding weight to the melodic score and sometimes a little bit of oomph with heavy items like a train pulling up.


• Trailer
• Mr. Holmes: The Icon
• Mr. Holmes: The Story


“Mr. Holmes” is a melancholy venture that feels decidedly morose, yet hopeful at the same time. It winks and nods at much of the hype that has gone into the legend of the detective, while paying homage to the incredible set of skills her most certainly possessed in his younger days. The film is wonderfully introspective and heartwarming, while still warning against becoming lost in your own self. I was pleasantly surprised that the film WASN’T what I was expecting, and enjoyed the character driven piece for what it was. The audio and video are excellent, and definitely fit the genre they were meant for, while the extras are a tad light. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then “Mr. Holmes” is another worthy entry into the body of works that summarize the famous detective, adding a new facet to the way we look him in this day and age. Recommended.

Additional Information:

Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Hiroyuki Sanada
Directed by: Bill Condon
Written by: Mitch Cullin (Novel), Jeffrey Hatcher (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: PG
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 10th 2015

Buy Mr. Holmes Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended

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