Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ian McKellen Makes a Perfect "Mr. Holmes" in His Twilight

Lionsgate Home Entertainment brings us 2015’s masterful “Mr. Holmes” to Blu-ray, DVD, and HD Digital. Director Bill Condon uses the immense talents of Ian McKellen as the aged title character and a supporting cast including Laura Linney, Milo Parker, and Hiroyuki Sanada. The film succeeds as a sentimental drama which will absolutely enchant fans of the Greatest Detective in the World.

Sherlock Holmes is long-retired and near the end of his life. The once great detective grapples with an unreliable memory. He must rely on his housekeeper's son as he revisits the still-unsolved case that led to his retirement in “Mr. Holmes.”

Tobias A. Schliessler’s cinematography for “Mr. Holmes” makes use of several filmmaking techniques that keep you rooted in the story. Coupled with Director Condon’s helming, the whole brings a sense of sophistication and class that you would expect from a period piece exploring the twilight years of one of England’s most celebrated literary heroes. The bustling streets of London and the quiet fields and gardens of Holmes’ retirement home give the movie a well-balanced contrast that serves to establish the two different worlds the sleuth was a part of.

Screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher adapts Mitch Cullin’s novel "A Slight Trick of the Mind" for the big screen. A complex plot and bounding from one time period to another makes for an engaging tale that keeps the viewer on their toes. We’re taken for a trip into the mind of Holmes and then thrown into the reality of what really transpired. All of this is accomplished with wonderful dialogue that realistically puts us in the environment established for the film.

Editor Virginia Katz gives “Mr. Holmes” a variety of different starts and stops from one scene to the next. Some are smooth transitions meant to be comfortable for our senses. Others are quick and jarring, throwing us off and leaving us feeling uneasy or startled.

Costume Designer Keith Madden captures the stylings of the time periods for “Mr. Holmes.” Never once do you feel as if you’re not looking through the eyes of a voyeur examining his surroundings during the turn of the century and early war-time. I can’t even begin to imagine the sort of attention paid to detail by Madden and his crew and applaud it.

Every set and location used for the movie keeps you engrossed in the story. You really feel as if you are in London, at the beach, in the Far East, and any of the other locations found in “Mr. Holmes.” Any semblance of modern technology was removed from the locales the film was shot in to give each scene a sense of authenticity. If everything was shot on sets or soundstages, they did a great job of making everything look genuine.

Carter Burwell’s musical score perfectly accentuates each and every scene for “Mr. Holmes.” Whether it is a moment walking on the beach or a brisk stroll down the streets of London, each note keeps the audience in tune with what we’re seeing onscreen. I especially enjoy the eerie sounds of the armonica which helps give certain moments in the film a haunting ambiance.

“Mr. Holmes” is rated PG for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking. It’s a rather tame film as far as content goes, which is refreshing these days. The only thing I can think of that might frighten younger viewers would be a child in peril.

The Blu-ray version of “Mr. Holmes” contains minimal bonus material. We get two featurettes entitled “Icon” and “Story.” They investigate how to approach working with the character of Sherlock Holmes and the tale we’re told through the film. A theatrical trailer is found as well.

“Mr. Holmes” is everything I expected when going into it. It is a wonderful homage to the title character that celebrates everything we love about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation. There are so many different little tributes and nods to the many different “versions” we’ve seen in cinema and literature, you’re left delighted the entire time. We’re also treated to a heartfelt look at what it means to grow older, less agile, and less vigilant.

“Mr. Holmes” is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.

We Love Twin Flicks!