Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review

Release Date: March 29th, 2011
Runtime: 16 hrs, 14 mins
Region: A
The Video
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection’ brings 14 films on 5 discs with 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentations. This release was a welcome surprise when announced, but I kept my expectations low as the films are very old and I wasn’t sure what condition the sources used would be.

Twelve of the films are listed as being restored to their original theatrical condition by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ and ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ were not restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, but perhaps another company restored those as they look pretty good.

I really had no set expectations on this release, considering the age of the films it was hard to imagine the condition of them and how well they could be restored. Watching the films on Blu-ray proved to be a nice surprise, but of course they aren’t perfect.

Each film features a nice layer of grain, thankfully DNR was not the route taken for the ‘restoration’ like other studios have done. Dirt and specks are present at times, but it really depends on the film on the intensity level.

The films are all presented in their original 4:3 aspect ratios and black and white prints. The majority of the films are very sharp and filled with detail; there are very few softer looking sequences. The textures of the clothing and skin details were quite impressive; there are certainly some demo moments throughout the films.

Serious print damage is minimal, but there are a few scenes which I did find a bit rougher looking. I don’t think much can be done to fix the issues present. The high-def clarity and improvement of these films is obvious and while they aren’t among the most impressive looking catalog films, they certainly are fantastic as a whole. 8/10

The Audio
An English 2.0 LPCM audio track is included for each film and serves as the lossless option included. A few commentary audio tracks are included for select films. Optional English subtitles are also included for each film.

I was worried about the audio mixes, but was also pleasantly surprised. Considering nearly 70 years have gone by since many of these films were produced, it is unrealistic to expect too much. That being said, I found the quality quite impressive.

Dialogue was easy to understand, definitely clearer than I expected, with minimal hissing and cracking to be found. The film’s music comes through clearly as well, as do the majority of the audio effects in each film. I really don’t think these films could sound much better if at all than they do here, keep your expectations realistic and you will be very pleased. 7/10

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc) (46.0 GB):

Introduction by Robert Gitt (4:39) (SD)
Robert Gitt talks about restoring the films and the long process involved.

Audio Commentaries for:
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (43.0 GB):

Audio Commentary for:
Sherlock Holmes Faces Death

Disc 3 (Blu-ray Disc) (44.0 GB):

Audio Commentary for:
Sherlock Holmes the Scarlet Claw

Disc 4 (Blu-ray Disc) (34.6 GB):

Audio Commentary for:
Sherlock Holmes the Woman in Green

Disc 5 (Blu-ray Disc) (35.0 GB):

Audio Commentary for:
Sherlock Holmes Dressed to Kill

Photo Galleries (SD)
A collection of five photo galleries are included

Theatrical Trailers (7:05) (SD)
Theatrical trailers for six of the films are included.

Footage of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1:16) (SD)
A screen memoir of the great novelist and spiritualist.

There are not an overwhelming amount of features included, but considering the age of these films it is hard to imagine too much being produced. The commentary tracks are enjoyable and the introduction by Robert Gitt is also interesting to hear. 6/10

The Movie Collection
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection’ is one of those releases I least expected to be announced on Blu-ray, but I was definitely excited when it was. The film collection includes all 14 films starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes. The films and their discs are listed below:

Disc 1 Films:
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror
Disc 2 Films:
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon
  • Sherlock Holmes in Washington
  • Sherlock Holmes Faces Death
Disc 3 Films:
  • Sherlock Holmes in the Spider Woman
  • Sherlock Holmes the Scarlet Claw
  • Sherlock Holmes in the Pearl of Death
Disc 4 Films:
  • Sherlock Holmes the House of Fear
  • Sherlock Holmes the Woman in Green
  • Sherlock Holmes Pursuit to Algiers
Disc 5 Films:
  • Sherlock Holmes Terror by Night
  • Sherlock Holmes Dressed to Kill
Viewing the films (many for the first time) was very fun and time consuming, but totally worth it. Many of the films hold up surprisingly well, which I didn’t expect.

Basil Rathbone plays the role of Sherlock Holmes perfectly. Not only is he very likable, but he just looks the part that I am sure many would imagine for Sherlock Holmes. His partner in mystery however wasn’t a favorite of mine and I am sure many would agree, but oddly enough though it is the best duo we have seen in a Sherlock Holmes film(s).

The films are all very fun, but some are a bit cheesier and out there. I do appreciate that MPI Home Video managed to take the time to include original opening intros and logos, which while not always the best quality, are the way the films were presented originally.

This is a fantastic set that any mystery fan will find hours of entertainment from. Most of the films aren’t very long and make for a perfect evening in. Whether you are a fan of the films or just a film lover in general, this collection is certainly worth watching. 8.5/10

The Blu-news Summary
Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection’ is a fun set of films with a good Blu-ray release. The video and audio presentations are very respectable and it is nice to see extras included as well. Overall this Blu-ray collection is ‘Highly Recommended’ to any fan of the series or mystery fans in general.

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