by Michael S. Palmer
With 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' hitting Blu-ray tomorrow, Warners Home Video invited High-Def Digest for an early peak at the disc's special features. Our review is up today, but here's a closer look at Maximum Movie Mode, a Blu-ray Disc exclusive, as well as the 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' Movie App, which will work with both the Blu-ray as well as digital download versions of the film.
Maximum Movie Mode
Maximum Movie Mode (henceforth known as MMM) has been around for a few years now. This picture-in-picture track was hosted by director Guy Ritchie on the first 'Sherlock Holmes' Blu-ray. For 'Game of Shadows', RDJ himself (as the kids call him) steps up for hosting duties in what the studio calls "walk on moments." If you're a fan of Mr. Junior's on or off screen personas, you'll get a kick out of his jokey, relaxed vibe. In MMM you'll have access to seven "focus points" (aka video featurettes) as well as still galleries, story boards, and much more. The video content is accessible through the traditional special features menu, but the Robert Downey Jr. moments and much of the content are exclusive to the MMM experience. A nice feature about the mode is that there's no requirement to watch it all in one sitting. Every time you exit MMM, you will be asked if you'd like to save your location and each time you fire up MMM, you are asked whether or not you'd like to continue where you left off.
While you may have seen Warners' Maximum Movie Mode before, they've created a new Movie App for this release that is both free and available right now for the iPad as well as the Kindle Fire. From what I understand, Warner Home Video was looking at all the "second screen" film companion apps and felt previous versions of these programs were, perhaps, too much of a movie driven experience. Your iPad, aka the second screen, would always be chasing the movie. So they wanted to flip the process on its head by creating an app-driven experience where the iPad or Kindle Fire are the primary screen and your HDTV or projector screen are secondary.
In addition to being the first Warners Movie App available on the Kindle Fire, the app works not only with any Blu-ray, but also XBox Live, Vudu, PS3, or CinemaNow downloads (not, however, with streaming rentals -- and there wasn't any word about Blu-ray rental discs). Though it's intended to work in conjunction with a purchased Blu-ray or download, the app works perfectly fine on its own and includes lots of in-app content (524MB worth, to be exact). The app syncs to Blu-ray players over WiFi networks, or there's a manual sync mode where, each time you want to access a certain piece of content on your Blu-ray disc, the movie app displays a three digit code which will cue up the film or behind-the-scenes material.
So what exactly is this Movie App all about? The App itself is divided into five sections: MOTIVE is dedicated to Arthur Conan Doyle's story and legacy, and includes a timeline of all the stage, screen, and television adaptations. EVENTS breaks down key sequences in the film and shows how they were made. Check out storyboards as well as read pages from the screenplay. PERSONS OF INTEREST focuses on the film's characters and their literary inspirations. SCENE OF THE CRIME looks back at the real world inspirations for the source material and the film's settings, which includes everything from criminology to era specific plastic surgery to gypsy culture to what caused the first World War. Lastly, SURVEILLANCE is a map-based activity where you can track the film's characters as they move through the film's London and continental Europe locations.
As I said before, there's lots of in-app content in the form of timelines, production design drawings, screenplay excerpts, and videos, but there's also ways to have the Movie App control your Blu-ray player by bringing up specific sequences in the film relating to app content. By pressing "Play on Second Screen" on your iPad or Kindle Fire, the movie will jump around to various time codes. Hit stop, and your Blu-ray waits in what Warners calls the "Lobby", aka a standby mode, with stills and music, waiting for you to fire up the next piece of content. If you don't have a purchased copy of the film sync'd via WiFi, the app simply plays a "preview" for what content you would be watching if you had purchased the Blu-ray or digital download.
There we have it, Dear Readers, Maximum Movie Mode and the Game of Shadows Movie App.