DVD reviews: ‘Sherlock Holmes,’ ‘Too Big to Fail’
By Garrett Conti
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 7:04 p.m.
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2012
◘ “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (2011, PG-13, 129 min., $28.98) It's rare when it happens, but “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” is a much better picture than its predecessor, 2009's “Sherlock Holmes.” Unfortunately, that's not to say filmmaker Guy Ritchie's picture is a knockout. Leads Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are excellent in return performances, and Noomi Rapace and Jared Harris add some heft to the cast, but the flick is another lackluster action piece that won't stand out among the fictional British detective's best adaptations. Ritchie takes flash over substance here, and it makes this sequel feel mighty empty. The film puts Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) and Watson (Law) together again in an attempt to take down Professor Moriarty (Harris), who has unleashed a dastardly plot to start a world war. Moriarty and Holmes are somewhat aware of each other, and that sets up an interesting rivalry, as the two forces battle across France and Germany and a few other European locales. Moriarty's goal is to assassinate a leader of a world power at a peace conference in Switzerland. It's up to Holmes and Watson to shut things down. Some decent extras are available on Blu-ray and standard DVD packages, including making-of featurettes made to explore some of the more interesting parts of the picture. 2 Stars.
◘ “Too Big to Fail” (2011, NR, 118 min., $19.97) Like a couple of years ago, when movies about the war in the Middle East were common, the economic collapse is now taking its place as a favorite subject. One of the latest in the genre is HBO's “Too Big to Fail,” from Curtis Hanson. The picture is based on the book of the same name from Andrew Ross Sorkin, and it gives a look at the financial situation from the top of the ladder. The picture kicks off with the impending collapse of Lehman Brothers, a financial services firm. Lehman's fall leads the way for several other struggling firms — AIG, Merrill Lynch, etc. — to fail, and the problem becomes so bad that the U.S. government stepped in. The film closely charts the movements of Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson (William Hurt) and President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Timothy Geithner (Billy Crudup) and their efforts in trying to halt what could have turned out to be the next Great Depression. The film is thrilling, and the situation is laid out for anyone to understand. The U.S. came incredibly close to a terrible situation, and that fright is captured perfectly with “Too Big to Fail.” A couple of decent featurettes are available as special features. A good-looking timeline of the pivotal events of the financial crisis is worth a look. 3 Stars.
◘ “In Darkness” (2011, R, 145 min., $30.99) Talented filmmaker Agnieszka Holland's World War II film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this year. Set in the Polish town of Lvov, the picture tells the tale of a Polish thief who hides Jews in the sewer as to keep them away from the Nazi concentration camps. It's based on a true story.
◘ “Thin Ice” (2011, R, 93 min., $22.98) Thrown out by his wife, a failure of an insurance salesman (Greg Kinnear) tries to get back on track when he comes upon some info that could boost his wallet. The salesman attempts to con an older gentleman (Alan Arkin) out of an expensive possession, but things don't go according to plan.
◘ “Demoted” (2011, R, 94 min., $22.98) A pair of top salesmen (Michael Vartan and Sean Astin) at a tire company find their professional lives in ruins when a co-worker (David Cross), who they've taunted for the last few years, suddenly becomes their boss. The two salesmen are bumped down and demoralized at the same time.
◘ “Accident” (2009, NR, 89 min., $19.97) A hit man who has the special talent of making his targets look like accident victims, becomes paranoid after a job gone wrong takes the life of one of his men. The hit man comes to the conclusion that he is the next target.
◘ “Miss Minoes” (2011, PG, 86 min., $29.95) Based on Dutch author Annie M.G. Schmidt's 1970 children's book, this film tells the tale of Miss Minoes, a cat turned woman who uses her resources to help out a struggling journalist.
◘ “Don't Go in the Woods” (2010, NR, 83 min., $26.95) Vincent D'Onofrio makes his directorial debut in this film about a rock band taking off for a weekend in the woods to find some inspiration. Unfortunately, the band lands in the middle of a nightmare scenario.
◘ “Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance” (2012, NR, 82 min., $29.95) Written and directed by Bob Hercules and narrated by Mandy Patinkin, this documentary takes a look at the Joffrey Ballet and its influence on dance. The company revolutionized ballet by combining modern dance with traditional ballet.
◘ “Give Me the Banjo” (2011, NR, 90 min., $29.95) Featuring interviews with Earl Scruggs, Bela Fleck, Pete Seeger and others, this documentary brings the banjo into focus. The film looks at the musical instrument and its part in American culture through a musical odyssey that's 200 years in the making.
◘ “Fastest” (2011, PG-13, 110 min., $29.95) Director Mark Neale follows up his 2003 film “Faster” with this look at the speed-infatuated stars of MotoGP. Narrated by Ewan McGregor, the film follows the racers as they make their way through another dangerous season of motorcycle racing.
◘ “Yankles” (2009, PG-13, 115 min., $26.98) This athletic comedy tells the tale of a group of orthodox yeshiva students and their swing into stardom. An ex-major leaguer looking to fulfill community service leads a group of aspiring rabbis on a journey to the College World Series championship.
NEW ON BLU-RAY
◘ “Harold and Maude” (Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort, 1971, PG, 91 min., $29.95)
◘ “Shallow Grave” (Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston, 1994, NR, 93 min., $29.95)
◘ “Meatballs” (Bill Murray and Harvey Atkin, 1979, PG, 92 min., $14.99)
◘ “Spider-Man” (Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe, 2002, PG-13, 121 min., $19.99)
◘ “Spider-Man 2” (Kirsten Dunst and Alfred Molina, 2004, PG-13, 127 min., $19.99)
◘ “Spider-Man 3” (James Franco and Thomas Haden Church, 2007, PG-13,
139 min., $19.99)
◘ “Hoosiers” (Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper, 1986, PG, 115 min., $19.99)
TV ON DVD
◘ “Entourage: The Complete Eighth Season” (Kevin Connolly and Jeremy Piven, two discs, eight episodes, $39.98)
◘ “Scandal: The Complete First Season” (Kerry Washington and Henry Ian Cusick, two discs, seven episodes, $29.99)
◘ “Episodes: The First Season” (Matt LeBlanc and Stephen Mangan, one disc, seven episodes, $29.95)
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