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As a "kid’s adventure" YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES ($20) works remarkably well- mixing the Holmesian period flavor with some Indiana Jones trappings, as well as a nice dose of effects from Industrial Light and Magic- but then again, what would you expect from a movie that has "Steven Spielberg presents" above the title. YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES presents fans of the world’s greatest consulting detective with the intriguing premise of what might have happened had Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson had met as schoolboys. Certainly, some diehard fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary character may see the film’s premise as blasphemy. However, as someone who loves both the original stories and numerous film adaptations, I find YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES to be gentle escapist fun that remains fairly respectful of Conan Doyle’s characters.

The plot of YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES finds John Watson (Alan Cox) the new boy at an English boarding school, where he encounters a fellow student by the name of Sherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe). Holmes is a scholarly overachiever, with numerous interests and a penchant for deductive reasoning- not to mention capturing the affections Elizabeth Hardy (Sophie Ward)- the only girl on the school grounds. As expected, young Sherlock Holmes is the only one to see a connection in a series of seemingly unrelated deaths, which starts Holmes and Watson into their very first investigative adventure together- one that involves a long buried secret and deadly Egyptian cult. The cast of YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES also includes Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones, Nigel Stock and Roger Ashton-Griffiths.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES proves to be a very nice looking DVD, with a solid transfer of the 1985 film release. The image is sharp and offers up rather good definition. Colors appear at a fairly natural level of saturation, without the overt bleakness suggested by its wintry Victorian London setting. While interiors do offer more vibrant hues than exteriors, there are never any signs of chroma noise or smearing. Blacks appear deep and inky, while the whites are solid. Contrast is good and shadow detail is more than respectable. The film element used for the transfer does have a few blemishes, but none are particularly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES comes with a fine sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack that nicely transcribes the film’s pre-matrixed Dolby Surround stems. Since the sound design is of mid-1980’s vintage, it is not surprising that the mix tends to favor the forward soundstage. The rear channels primarily provide both ambient and musical fill, with occasional active effects. Musical fidelity is really rather good with Bruce Broughton’s score coming across in a full-bodied manner. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always fully intelligible. The bass channel gets the job done, but little more than that. An English Dolby Surround and French monaural track are also encoded onto the DVD. Subtitles are included in English. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features. No extras have been included on the DVD.

YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES is an enjoyable adventure film that places Holmes and Watson in an intriguing "what if" premise. Paramount has done a fine job with the film’s presentation on DVD, creating a good looking and fine sounding offering that is certain to please fans.



Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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