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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Mr. Holmes

November 3rd, 2015

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Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes opened in select cities, which is usually a terrible release strategy. It did well enough to earn a significant measure of mainstream success. There has also been a lot of critical praise and even some Awards Season buzz, specifically for Ian McKellen. Do I agree with the majority here? Or am I going to be one of the few who were disappointed in the movie?

The Movie

Ian McKellen plays Sherlock Holmes, whom we first meet as he's riding a train and warning a young boy not to mess with a wasp, which the boy mistook for a bee. He knows a lot about bees, because in his retirement, he took up beekeeping. This isn't just a new hobby, he believes there's something in royal jelly that will help his failing memory, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Sherlock Holmes is living in retirement with a housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, and her young son, Roger. He's recently returned from a trip to Japan, where he procured a pricklyash plant, which he believes will help him with his failing memory, but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

As you can tell, the plot is a little convoluted and we quickly run into spoilers, but I'm going to summarize it now. Sherlock Holmes retired decades ago after a particularly difficult case; however, more recently, his former partner, Dr. Watson, wrote a book about this case. This book was even turned into a movie. Mr. Holmes is upset about Dr. Watson's book, because he knows Dr. Watson changed some of the details of the case, he just doesn't know which ones. The beekeeping is for him to get royal jelly, which is to be combined with the pricklyash to create something that will help his failing memory, so that he can write a book and correct the mistakes Dr. Watson made. At least that's the plan.

It turns out what helps his memory the most is Roger, who shares Sherlock Holmes intellectual curiosity and soon the pair develop a bond. The more the pair work on the case, the more Mr. Holmes remembers. What he remembers is a spoiler. There's another plot thread to deal with his trip to Japan, but again, spoilers.

While watching this movie I kept thinking about Steve Jobs, specifically its box office troubles and what that will do to Michael Fassbender's chances of winning an Oscar. He's still a lock to pick up a nomination, but so few people have seen the movie that I doubt Universal will be willing to spend a ton of money on an Oscar campaign. His chances have likely dropped enough that a dark horse could rise. I was thinking about this, because Ian McKellen is so good in this movie that he could be that dark horse. He deserves to at least be in consideration; his performance is that good.

Ian McKellen also has a lot to work with, as the script is fantastic. Although, if I did have one complaint, it would be that there is perhaps one too many plot threads in the film, so not all of them get the same focus and the multiple timelines do make it a little harder to follow. On the other hand, that does fit with Sherlock Holmes losing his memory.

The Extras

There are two featurettes, Mr. Holmes: The Icon and Mr. Holmes: The Story. They are a combined five minutes and eleven seconds. That's a truly disappointing amount of extras.

I do not have the Blu-ray to judge the technical presentation, but it does cost $17 compared to $11 for the DVD. I think the DVD is the better deal. That might change as the release date nears.

The Verdict

I am no Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Holmes is a great movie and the replay value is high enough that the DVD or Blu-ray is worth picking up, even without substantial extras. Of course, it doesn't come out till next week, which I only just realized.

Filed under: Video Review, Mr. Holmes, Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender, Laura Linney, Milo Parker