Robert Downey Jr. reinvents literature’s iconic detective as an action hero and John Woo’s epic film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs in China gets even longer.
Sherlock Holmes: Guy Ritchie found it elementary to cast Robert Downey Jr. as the titular sleuth in Sherlock Holmes, and the actor, who elevates any material (see Iron Man), was game to reimagine Sherlock Holmes as a ripped action hero who flexes his muscles as often as he calls upon his uncanny powers of deduction. In this adventure, Holmes and Dr. Watson (Jude Law) delve deeper and deeper into a secret occult society and a plot to assassinate most of Parliament. Rachel McAdams co-stars as Holmes’s tough-as-nails former flame in this exciting and witty blockbuster that brilliantly re-creates Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective for this century. Extras: Both the Blu-ray and DVD contain “Sherlock Holmes: Reinvented,” a featurette that shows how Ritchie and Downey reinterpret Sherlock Holmes and how Downey prepares for his role. Blu-ray owners will want to register and submit questions to Downey for a Live Community Screening (LCS) on April 1 at 9 p.m. ET. At that time you’ll be able watch the movie in your living room and hear the latest Sherlock Holmes answer your questions live as Downey watches the movie at the same time you do. Blu-ray Bob’s Verdict: Buy Me (on Blu-ray); Rent Me (on DVD)
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel: In this irritating family comedy, pop-star rodents Alvin, Simon and Theodore put aside music superstardom to return to school and try to save its music program by winning $25,000 in a battle of the bands. PG-13 sparks fly when the Chipmunks face off against the Chipettes—a group of three female chipmunks. Your kids might eat up this sort of thing, but they’ll eat up almost anything you put in front of them. Adults will run screaming for the nearest exit. Extras: Warning—both the DVD and Blu-ray contain a slew of loud, music-related bonus features, including “Munk Music Machine,” “Shake Your Groove Thing! With Rosero,” music videos, “Rockin’ Rising Stars,” “Chipmunks: Behind the Squeaking” and many more. Blu-ray Bob’s Verdict: Forget Me
An Education: Carey Mulligan earned a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a teenage schoolgirl in early ‘60s London who plans to attend Oxford, until she falls for an older man who introduces her to his fast lifestyle and chic friends. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay, and captures the post-war British vibe perfectly. Blu-ray Bob’s Verdict: Rent Me
IMAX: Under the Sea: If you’re looking for more quality family entertainment than screeching animated chipmunks, look no further than this gorgeously filmed sea-life documentary narrated by Jim Carrey that takes you to the waters off Papua New Guinea to Cape Catastrophe in South Australia to the Great Barrier Reef. It may be G-rated, but you don’t have to be a child to appreciate the beauty of “dancing” sea snakes, great white sharks, playful seals and luminescent sea creatures. Extras: A featurette and webisodes on both the DVD and Blu-ray help one appreciate just how much effort went to bringing audiences this striking footage. Blu-ray Bob’s Verdict: Buy Me
Red Cliff: Original International Version: The truncated domestic theatrical version of John Woo’s historical drama based on the legendary 208 A.D. battle that brought about the end of the Han Dynasty in China is already available on DVD and Blu-ray. This version, which is also available on two-disc DVD and Blu-ray versions, is the whopping 288-minute version that international audiences enjoyed. Red Cliff is action-film poetry in motion that has gorgeous wide shots of battles (using real people, not CGI characters) and close-up shots of hand-to-hand combat. Whether you want this longer international version or not is really just a question of how much of a good thing is too much. Extras: A whopping two-and-a-half hour documentary on the making of the epic, storyboards and a conversation with Woo. Blu-ray Bob’s Verdict: Rent Me
Also new this week: The Baader Meinhof Complex, The Diary of Anne Frank, House Broken and Madonna: Sticky and Sweet