Review: 4-Star DVD, “Sherlock Holmes”

Sherlock Holmes

OK, it works, May 10, 2010

As a devotee of the Sherlock Holmes novels, short stories and Jeremy Brett TV serials, I couldn’t even picture Robert Downey Jr. as the Great Detective. If anything, he seemed better to play Watson and let Jude Law take the lead. But I suspended disbelief and bought the DVD and am very glad I did. The experience is very similar to a Trekker who resists director JJ Abrams’ 2009 version of Star Trek with young new faces as Kirk and Spock. But that worked, too. It’s not your father’s Star Trek and not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes. But director Guy Ritchie gave us enough of the Holmes canon to satisfy and plenty of new twists to entertain. Thumbs up.

Review: 2-Star DVD, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue”

The Prisoner of Second Avenue

See the Stage Play, May 10, 2010

It’s a moving stage play but a disappointing movie. Jack Lemmon gives a one-note performance, playing the same aggravated character he did in “The Out-of-Towners.” Anne Bancroft, however, is flawless as his wife. The script is dark comedy, but Lemmon left out most of the comedy and left us with just his angst. Sloppy, hurried direction would be my guess.

Review: 4-Star DVD, “Victory at Sea”

Victory at Sea

A Landmark Achievement, May 10, 2010

Considering “Victory at Sea” was made for TV in 1952, this series of 26 episodes is remarkably gripping, real and honest. I remember watching a few episodes as a kid and being awestruck. Today, long after seeing Director Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbor” and visually riding the tail of a bomb down to the deck, it would be easy to dismiss “Victory at Sea” as antiquated, jingoistic newsreels, but it’s far better than that and worth every penny of the DVD price. A few of the scenes are obviously staged (OK, run fast, now hit the deck like you’ve been shot), but most of the footage is real war and chilling, real death. I just wish someone had put together a special feature or two: the making of the documentary, its impact on the future of TV documentaries, etc. This set just has 2 DVDs, 26 episodes, nothing else.