PHOTO: Jude Law, left, is Dr. Watson and Robert Downey Jr. is Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock Holmes,” directed by Guy Ritchie.

Sherlock Holmes (Warner, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 128 min.). While often wonderfully evoking Victorian London and sticking to Sir Conan Doyle’s original portrayal of the character – we see Holmes in a bare-fisted boxing match, for example – director Guy Ritchie and actor Robert Downey Jr. nonetheless give Holmes a very modern physicality as well. He’s sort of the Victorian James Bond, who uses his mind as much as his muscle. The main problem with the film is the “mystery” is not much of a challenge.

This London looks wonderful and the time is when the Tower Bridge was still under construction, which makes for a striking climatic showdown. The memorable opening has Holmes hurrying, and fighting, to break up an underground ritual sacrifice of a woman; she would be victim six of Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), who is working the dark arts in an effort to gain power. It must be working, because after he is hanged to death, he rises from the grave and continues on a deadly course. Just before he is hanged, he tells Holmes that three more will die and there is nothing Holmes can do to stop it.

As much a part of the film as the plot is the strong, slightly complicated relationship between Holmes and Watson. In the film, Watson gets engaged, even though Holmes keeps trying to point out the error he sees in Watson’s action. Meanwhile, Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), a thief who is Holmes’ old flame, shows up, with very much a part to play in the story.

There is plenty of fisticuffs, and interesting bits with a ship under construction and some explosions to keep things popping – and Ritchie does make sound effects pop out of the rear speakers in the sparkling Blu-ray version. It’s good enough to make me want a sequel.

Ritchie hosts a picture-in-picture breakdown of the film, with storyboards, stills galleries, focus points and a timeline. Both versions include a look at the reinterpretation and how Downey prepared for the role. There also is a digital copy/standard DVD combo disc in the Blu-ray edition. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 3.25 stars

An Education (Sony, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 100 min.). This British film justifiably earned three Oscar nominations: for Best Picture; Best Actress (a sterling job by Carey Mulligan, who, especially in the Paris scenes, recalls a young Audrey Hepburn visually); and Best Adapted Screenplay (by Nick Hornby, who brought us “About a Boy” and “High Fidelity”). It is based on Lynn Barber’s autobiographical memoir.

Mulligan plays 16-year-old schoolgirl Jenny, who feels her life in 1960s Britain is nothing but boredom as she struggles to bring up here grade in Latin so she can be accepted at Oxford. She is very enamored of French, classical music (she plays the cello in a student orchestra) and good books, but her gruff father (Alfred Molina, who, like Mulligan, earned a BAFTA nomination) forbids her to listen to French records and is always pushing her toward Oxford. After an orchestra rehearsal, she is waiting for a ride in the pouring rain, when the older David (Peter Sarsgaard) offers to give her, or at least her cello, a lift. It is the start of a seduction, an offering of a world of art, live classical music, nightclubbing and even a trip to Paris. Her times with David and his friends Danny (Dominic Cooper) and Helen (Rosamund Pike) open her up to the world she so desperately wanted. But has it come too easily; is there a price to pay?

The excellent cast also includes Cara Seymour as her mother Marjorie, Olivia Williams as her English teacher Miss Stubbs and Emma Thompson as Headmistress Miss Walters. Extras include deleted scenes; audio commentary by director Lone Scherfig and actors Mulligan and Sarsgaard; a 9-minute making-of feature; and a featurette on the awards ceremonies. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 3 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Additional reviews are available online at and include the After Dark Horrorfest 4: Eight Films To Die For, including Anthony DiBlasi’s disturbing adaptation of Clive Barker’s short story “Dread” and “The Final,” in which the high school misfits exact deadly revenge on the popular kids; and John Woo’s epic “Red Cliff.”