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Hands Of A Murderer - Sherlock Holmes

Koch Vision // Unrated // January 10, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Louis Howard | posted January 25, 2006 | E-mail the Author

The Movie-

Celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes (played here by Edward Woodward, probably best known for his lead role in the series The Equalizer) has at last captured and brought to justice his most feared nemesis, the one and only Professor James Moriarty (Anthony Andrews)- but after a well-orchestrated public escape from the gallows, Moriarty kidnaps Holmes' equally brilliant brother Mycroft in order to break a secret international code that he has been unable to decipher. It's up to Holmes and Doctor Watson (John Hillerman) to rescue Mycroft and prevent Moriarty from carrying out a diabolical plot threatening the future of the British Empire.

Upon reading the premise and the cast roster I was looking forward to watching this movie, being a long time Sherlock Holmes buff. It's always of interest to see what sort of chemistry two notable actors can bring to the roles of Holmes and Watson. Any Holmes adventure that includes both Moriarty and brother Mycroft should promise to be one rich with good characterisation as well as a busy plot to sink one's mind into. Upon watching the first plodding 15 minutes or so of this Sherlockian installment disappointment was creeping in, and I was starting to give thought to writing a poor review here- but as the movie progressed it managed to pick up the pace and become a fairly entertaining viewing.

I had expected a Holmes dry, crafty and more elegant than the one that Woodward gives us here- this Holmes comes across as pompous, too excitable and a bit cantankerous. Given that, I will also admit that as the movie progresses his performance grows on the viewer a bit. Physically he seems woefully miscast, as Woodward looks somewhat broad and bullish in appearance as opposed to slender and graceful- when Holmes is more massive than Watson, it just doesn't ring true. There are any number of Sherlock Holmes portrayals by a veritable who's who of good to great actors from stage and screen; Woodward's take falls somewhere in the middle, not bad by any means, but not really an embodiment of the role. Andrews does a decent job of supplying us with a sinister Moriarty, but of all the performances here it's Hillerman's take on a subdued, even-tempered Watson that fits best. Of note also, the sets of Victorian London are convincing throughout the film.

Video-

Presented here in 1.33:1 fullscreen, the picture is acceptable if unexceptional; colors are adequate considering that the movie is shot in locales mostly in shades of brown, grey and black. The print displays a general softness throughout but does seem to be suprisingly free of damage with a low amount of grain. Given the fact that it's a British made-for-television movie that was likely filmed on a low budget, it's not too bad overall.

Audio-

The audio track here is Dolby Digital mono. Nothing special, but clear and easy to understand. Like the video portion of this disc, it is serviceable.

Extras-

Biographies of the cast, and that's it.

Final Thoughts-

While it's not really a Sherlock Holmes adventure that sets itself apart from any number of other pastiches on the grand character's career, it is one worth watching. Rent it.
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