DVD Review: Sherlock Holmes

April 19, 2010

Let me start by saying this whole review is a spoiler alert…kind of. If you want to see the movie and don’t want to be told the end, stop reading. With that being said, I predicted the end of the movie about 10 minutes in, so it won’t spoil your viewing experience.

I can distill this movie down like this: Science solves everything. The movie starts with Holmes and Watson arresting the evil Lord Blackwell. Blackwell is thought to have demonic powers and has killed several innocent women in his rituals. Once apprehended he is put in jail to await execution. In jail, Lord Blackwell uses his demonic power to cause a guard to go into convulsions. Before his death he tells Holmes that the events between them have just begun. He is hanged the next day and Dr Watson himself proclaims his death.

But Lord Blackwell was right. Days later Holmes and Watson are contacted and told that the tomb that Blackwell was buried in has opened and that a witness testified to seeing Blackwell walk out of the tomb. The killings around town continue with influential figures being killed in apparently demonic ways. One man bursts into flames. Another drowns in his own bathtub while being fully conscious. You get the point.

Everyone in London assumes this is the work of the Devil himself. Mobs of Christians are protesting for some strange reason (because the first thing I would do if I thought the devil was incarnate and killing people is organize a protest). Even Watson and the police are sure that this is the work of dark spiritual forces. But not Holmes. Holmes knows there is no such thing as demons or the spirit-world.

Holmes uses science to pick apart each of the events that seemed so mysterious. The bathtub man was killed by a chemical that caused paralysis. The spontaneously exploding man was sprayed with a flammable mist just prior to his death. The guard who went into convulsions was paid to act that way. The hanging was rigged to prevent death. The death (that Watson attested to) was staged thanks to drug that causes an extremely low heart rate (thus Watson’s mistake). The tomb was rigged as well to allow easy exit.

All the silly people who thought that demonic powers were real were freaking out. But Holmes knew science solves everything and that the material world is all there is. He saved the day.

This movie represented the classic modernist myth perfectly. This is scientific materialism’s Battlefield Earth.

If you like sociology and might enjoy watching a film that represents Enlightenment thinking pefectly, I would rate this film 4/4 stars.

If you like popcorn film that is fairly well acted/directed (that will, as a bonus, subtly brainwash you) : 3/4 stars.

For everyone else 1/4 stars.

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