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DVDs & Blu-rays: Shallow Grave and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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Sherlock Holmes, A Game of Shadows

stars Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Jared Harris; Guy Ritchie directs.

Arthur Conan Doyle purists will be appalled to see his legendary detective Sherlock Holmes in drag in A Game of Shadows, Guy Ritchie's latest installment in the action/adventure series starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law; everyone else will think it's funny. (It was Downey who suggested his character cross dress, something we completely understand coming from him.)

The chemistry between the Downey and Law as Holmes and Watson is undeniable. The two make a perfect pair, with Downey as the brilliant clown taking every chance to be even more outrageous than ever, and Law the handsome, only slightly more down-to-earth straight man. Besides the over-the-top verbal and physical comedy, Ritchie gives us plenty of action. Much of it is slowed down to accentuate the near-misses as bullets and other dangerous projectiles whiz by the stars as they track down the evil genius Moriarty, played with an appropriate sense of propriety by Jared Harris. (The why's and how's of the plot are secondary to the who's and where's; all the audience really cares about is watching Downey and Law romp all over a stylish and elegant England on their way to another adventure.)

Extras for the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack include several featurettes including Inside the Mind of Sherlock Holmes hosted by Downey, and Guy Ritchie's Well-Oiled Machine.

Shallow Grave

stars Ewan McGregor, Kerry Fox and Christopher Eccleston; Danny Boyle directs.

The Criterion Collection releases a restored digital transfer version of the 1994 Shallow Grave, the first effort by director Danny Boyle who went on to success with Trainspotting. The macabre black comedy involves four roommates, three self-involved friends and one new guy who promptly drops dead leaving behind a suitcase full of cash. Eager to keep the cash, the trio decides to dispose of the corpse and set about sawing him into disposable chunks, but they can't dispose of their paranoia which quickly sets the roommates against each other.

At the time of its release, there were comparisons to Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry. In retrospect, those might seem overly generous. Boyle, a solid director, is no Hitchcock, even if he does keep a good grip on Shallow Grave. But the movie is a wonderful bit of saucy filmmaking. It skillfully captures the tension between the group and proves that being young and beautiful is a dangerous game.

Extras include audio commentary by director Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge, new interviews with actors McGregor, Fox and Eccleston, the original trailer, and the featurette Digging Your Own Grave.

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