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Movie Evaluation: Sherlock Holmes

Updated on June 14, 2014

The movie opens with Sherlock Holmes, played by Robert Downey Jr., and his friend, Dr. John Watson, played by Jude Law, racing to stop Lord Henry Blackwood, played by Mark Strong, from ritualistically murdering a woman. Three months pass and Lord Blackwood is hung and confirmed dead by Dr. Watson. Yet a day later he walks among the living. Sherlock is drawn back into the case when Irene Adler, played by Rachel McAdams, hires him to find the ginger midget, whom he finds inside Lord Blackwood’s coffin. Sherlock Holmes is an entertaining action movie with quality acting, appropriate music, explosive special effects, realistic setting, a good script, and a lack of predictability.

Robert Downey Jr. makes Sherlock come alive on the screen. The character Sherlock is shown to be able deduce a person’s past and future actions from minuscule details that the average person does not even notice. One example of this is during a boxing match the scene slows and Robert Downey Jr. leads us through Sherlock’s thought process as he plans out the ensuing fight before his opponent throws a punch. The emotionless voice that Robert Downey Jr. uses as he walks us through Sherlock’s fight plan is almost mechanical; it is as if Sherlock’s mind was a machine.

Director Guy Ritchie uses music for maximum effect throughout the movie. Music is used to set the tone throughout the film. For instance in one scene music moves us from seeing Sherlock eating by himself in a restaurant after his friends have left due to his inappropriate deductions, to Sherlock playfully fighting an opponent in a fighting match. The music changes from a melancholy tone to a jauntier melody in order to lighten the mood. Then, during the fighting match when Sherlock’s opponent spits at the back of his head, the music completely stops in order to emphasize the insult towards Sherlock.

Special effects are mainly restrained to explosions; yet each explosion is expertly depicted. During one scene a man attempts to shoot Lord Henry Blackwood with his pistol, however, the man himself is the one that ends up dead and not by a bullet. The man suddenly bursts in to flames after he pulls the trigger of his pistol and proceeds to fall out of a three story window, plummeting to his death. Another explosion scene takes place at the docks; Dr. Watson is running after Lord Blackwood when he breaks a trip wire. As he turns to yell a warning to Sherlock and Irene, he is engulfed in flames. It is not just one massive explosion, but several, that continually throw Sherlock and Irene around like rag dolls.

The setting for Sherlock Holmes is realistic. The film takes place in London in the late 1800’s. Guy Ritchie leads us to figure out the time period and setting for ourselves by arranging a scene in The Grand Hotel; an envelope with the Grand’s address on it informs the viewer that the hotel is located in Piccadilly, London. Richie evidences the time period by having one of Lord Blackwood’s speeches to his followers mention that the American Civil War has ended and that now would be an advantageous time to reconquer America for England. Director Ritchie proves that we are in London beyond any doubt when he sets the most climatic scene inside and below Parliament. He includes mention of Scotland Yard throughout the movie, having the lead detective, Inspector Lestrade, mention the Yard multiple times in addition to wearing the Scotland Yard uniform.

The Sherlock Holmes crew outdid themselves with script writing. The dialogue in the movie adds background to the film. In one scene Dr. Watson comes into Sherlock’s room and sees the dog, Gladstone, passed out on the floor. He exasperatedly says, “What have you done to Gladstone now?” Sherlock responds, “I am testing a new anesthesia. He doesn’t mind.” This isone instance where a conversation leads us to know that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are friends. The conversation has an air of two friends, one of which has long ago learned to put up with the odd experiment and no longer gets truly angry.

Sherlock Holmes stands apart from other action movies with its overall lack of predictability. Sherlock and Irene are clearly shown to have romantic feelings towards each other. Yet the unexpected happens, the main protagonist does not get the girl. Instead he takes her stolen necklace and leaves her handcuffed and sitting on a bridge platform. Sherlock Holmes defies the notion of the traditional action movie by not having the movie gradually come together for us; instead Sherlock waits until the end to tell the viewer how he solved the case, breaking it down piece by piece, and concluding with how Blackwood was resurrected.

Sherlock Holmes contains all the elements that an action movie needs in order to make it an enjoyable experience for the movie watcher. Director Ritchie and his crew truly make Sherlock Holmes come alive on the screen with script writing and special effects. Sherlock Holmes has remarkable special effects, appropriate music, a great cast of actors, a lack of predictability, and a realistic setting. Robert Downey Jr. truly made Sherlock seem realistic; Sherlock could have come across as a fraud with his farfetched deductions, but instead he seems believable and realistic. The movie also sets itself up perfectly for its sequel, with the mysterious Professor Moriarty, whose face we never actually get to see.

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