Sherlock Holmes is a good movie, but a mediocre Holmes adaptation. If you have ever had a desire to earn your own pound and a shilling you may prefer rereading the short stories. If you have no clue what a pound and a shilling is, then go right ahead and watch the movie.
The movie does not draw from any Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but the story follows a similar formula to other Holmes stories. The move also cherry picks details from the stories to use for the characters. Irene Adler is used as a femme fatale love interest for Holmes rather than a person of intrigue because she had bested him. In the story A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes has an appreciation and admiration for her that resulted from her cunning, not her feminine wiles. Moreover, Holmes loves himself best and is generally depicted as a calculating machine than a person drawn to sentiment. The movie gives Holmes his ego, but also a requited romantic kindling toward Irene Adler.
There were some details which were well executed. Sherlock’s pugilistic tendencies and bartitsu fighting style is enjoyable to watch. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was not gifted when it came toward writing fight sequences. Doyle did excel though in proving Sherlock to be a very intellectual character. Holmes is certainly an action hero, but he is also very cerebral and the scenes which depict his thought and cunning are limited. None the less, Robert Downy Jr. did well to embrace and display Holmes’ quirks.
Dr. Watson was also portrayed well. In the films with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, Watson was a bumbling idiot rather than Holmes’ equal and colleague. Watson is clearly gifted intellectually and physically as one would expect from a physician and veteran of war. Watson’s gambling habits and womanizing traits are also alluded to and carried over from Doyle’s work.
I enjoyed the movie, but there are better Sherlock Holmes adaptations. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett are more faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. My favorite Sherlock Holmes representation comes from Dr. Gregory House and Dr. James Wilson. House M.D. only makes passing references to Sherlock Holmes, but what great references they are.