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Young Sherlock Holmes [VHS] (1985)

Nicholas Rowe , Alan Cox , Barry Levinson  |  PG-13 |  VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (473 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood
  • Directors: Barry Levinson
  • Writers: Arthur Conan Doyle, Chris Columbus
  • Producers: Frank Marshall, Harry Benn, Henry Winkler, Kathleen Kennedy, Mark Johnson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, HiFi Sound, NTSC
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Paramount
  • VHS Release Date: January 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (473 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300214508
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #571,779 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This 1985 adventure directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man) and written by Chris Columbus (Gremlins) may not have much to do with the Sherlock Holmes of Arthur Conan Doyle's invention. But it is a delightful and somewhat unexpected combination of exciting elements: Victorian-era, foggy-London mystique, Gothic horror, and Indiana Jones-like exotica. Nicholas Rowe plays Holmes as a schoolboy at a boarding academy for young men. Paired with the owlish, reticent young Watson (Alan Cox), Holmes embarks on the solution of a mystery that involves a hallucinatory and lethal drug, and a religious cult celebrating ancient Egyptian rites of mummification. Levinson makes handsome and crisp work of this Steven Spielberg production, without a trace of the treacle that often found its way into other Spielbergian projects at the time (The Goonies). Rowe is wonderfully convincing as a teen incarnation of the Great Detective, and while Cox mostly maintains Hollywood's traditionally unflattering idea of Watson, he does bring warmth and comedy to the role. The cast includes Freddie Jones as an eccentric inventor, Anthony Higgins as the villain, and Sophie Ward as Holmes's love interest. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 90 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun film that has aged well. (But NOT for all ages) January 20, 2004
Format:DVD
Fans of Harry Potter should check out this Victoriana fantasy ; in style and tone, they have much in common. They share the classic English boarding school setting, and are filled with magic and monsters, jaw-dropping sets, and wonderfully crusty and unusual British personalities.
Chris Columbus, who helmed the first two Harry Potter movies, wrote the script for this bouncy marriage of a Sherlock Holmes detection story and an Indiana Jones-style cliffhangers. This odd combination received a lot of criticism when the film was first released, but ultimately the mixture of a Victorian detective story and an ancient Egyptian cult is charming and a lot of fun.
Nicholas Rowe is perfect as the snotty, elegant young Sherlock Holmes, and Sophie Ward is absolutely radiant as his romantic interest. Alan Cox as Watson (a dead-ringer for Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter) is less effective, but tolerable. The effects were groundbreaking in their time, featuring the first computer-generated characters -- animated by Pixar before they became a household word -- and still hold up nicely. They actually have more charm than most modern CGI effects. The film does suffer from slow patches and a premise that could have been pushed even further, but this is still a good family film and most older kids and adults interested in special effects should enjoy it. (Be warned, however: younger children may find parts too frightening.)
Sadly, as far as extras goes, the DVD is "Elementary, my dear Watson": nothing, not even a trailer. That's a shame, since many special effects breaththroughs were made on this movies, such as the computer animated stained-glass window character, and early work from Pixar (yes, Pixar!)
P.S.: Make sure you watch all the way through the end credits for the quick bonus scene.
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63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of a great franchise? November 29, 2003
Format:DVD
Originally planned as the first of a series, Young Sherlock Holmes was a bit of a misfire at the box office. It cost $18 million and only grossed about 20 per cent of its budget back. In the years since its release it has become a cult film for those who can appreciate it for the blockbuster it never was. I personally discovered it on a Christmas Eve showing on BBC in the late 80s. Even then, I thought it was great despite it being a darker Christmas film than we're used to.

In a snowy and sinister December at the height of the Victorian Era, Watson, as a teenager, is sent to Brompton, a private school in a snowy London, when his old one is shut down due to lack of funding. Upon arrival, he meets a violin-playing smart-Alec who deducts his character from his mere appearance. It's the beginning of a life-long friendship.

Holmes' life on campus is rather cosy. He has a pretty girlfriend Elizabeth (Sophie Ward) and her uncle, Professor Waxflatter, is a crackpot inventor of the Doc Brown variety who lives in the school attic with all of his crazy inventions. At first, Watson and Holmes have fun getting up to mischief on campus but a series of bizarre suicides soon distracts them.

The local Inspector Lestrade is too lazy to do anything about it, leaving them free to investigate. Apparently the victims are all sane, happy men who seem to go suddenly mad with fear and hurl themselves to the nearest oncoming death. Things get personal when Waxflatter suffers the same fate and stabs himself in fit of madness.

Why are ordinary men going crazy? Who is the mysterious black robed person hiding in the shadows? What dark secret was Waxflatter hiding?
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Underrated Classic May 22, 2005
Format:DVD
Young Sherlock Holmes is an overlooked gem. The story focuses on the school days of Watson and Holmes. Watson is transfered to a new school where he meets the young Holmes. Wuickly they become involved in a case. It appears that a mysterious cloaked figure is poisoning victims with a blowpipe. Once poisoned, the victims suffer terrible hallucinations and commit suicide. Unfortunately, one of the victims is Holmes' own mentor at school. Can they find out who did it?

The effects are a little cheesy and they show their age, but there are a few good ones. The hallucinations are really creepy and are very well done. One of the freakiest is when Watson is attacked by the very pastries that he loves. If you only see this scene, it's worth the price of this DVD. Overall, the tone is dark, so it is very watchable even though it's a children's movie. As for the actors, they do a good job, especially the kid playing the role of Watson. This one is really worth checking out.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie has been repeatedly underrated since it came out in 1985 and for no good reason. It has strong writing, directing, acting and setting, and a balanced dose of mystery, fantasy, reality and adventure.
Sherlock Holmes, a young man still in school, faces a mystery that involves an old religious cult that may be responsible for the recent, strange murders taking place in London. Watson is the narrator of the story. He has just arrived at Sherlock's school, and fascinated by the charm, intelligence and wit of his soon to be good friend, follows him along on his adventure. Poisoned darts, DaVinci-like experiments, mysterious acquaintances, seemingly unexplained events, and ghosts from the past make an appearance and very soon "the game is afoot".
It has a solid script that combines the mundane environment and events of high school with an interesting mystery/adventure plot penned by Chris Colombus in the well-known Conan Doyle style. It has equally solid main characters that not only accurately portray younger versions of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, but also behave believably and in accord to the books written by Conan Doyle.
The realistically reproduced sets and costumes (you will even get to see the iconic cape, hat and pipe) and the speculative twists on the origins of the characters make this movie more than just enjoyable and entertaining, it makes it as charming as Holmes and Watson's personalities.
If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or simply enjoy an old-fashioned, well-crafted, surprising mystery, buy this movie. You won't be disappointed.
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Just a fun adventure movie for the family.
Published 11 hours ago by TR Dunne
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie! Great story!
I've always loved this movie, it's the perfect curl up on the couch Sunday afternoon flick. Great story, visually appealing, and Holmes' & Watson's characters were both well... Read more
Published 13 hours ago by Ddy3smptr
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great family movie!
Published 17 hours ago by Svitlana Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Still love it after all these years!
I have loved this movie since it came out. Even though I was a teenager the first time I saw it, and I am an adult now, I still get drawn in to the great story. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Jennifer R. Morin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it!
Published 2 days ago by Sharon Edgington
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
my only complaint was Watson was introduced in the books much later
Published 2 days ago by connie serck
4.0 out of 5 stars Good movie for the kids
I watched this film with my kids. It is a good clean movie. The story line was interesting with enough drama and mystery to keep your attention. Young Mr. Read more
Published 2 days ago by A. Barnett
4.0 out of 5 stars Cute and family friendly
Well acted and a good story which keeps in spirit with the Sherlock and Watson stories. It's easy to see the quirky relationship which develops into the arrogant Sherlock and long... Read more
Published 3 days ago by geokatgrl
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it but it was not what I would call ...
Enjoyed it but it was not what I would call a great movie. Having read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories this movie took too many liberties with Homes and Watson.
Published 3 days ago by Jake's buddy
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good in the beginning and the end...the middle is not great.
Published 3 days ago by vieprivee
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