There’s a reason people find themselves compulsively hooked on “House,” and it’s little surprise you can build an entire empire on the kicks afforded by a “CSI.” Both have their origins in Sherlock Holmes and his ongoing adventures with his trusted friend, Dr. John Watson. These two characters have been played on film more times by more people than any other literary creations, and the basic formula has been bent and twisted so many times, in so many ways, that most audiences have no idea what the “real” Sherlock Holmes is like. They base their knowledge of the character on a few surface details, and they’ve been quite vocal about how upset they are by the way Guy Ritchie and Joel Silver and Robert Downey Jr. are “ruining” the character.
Only… they’re not.
In fact, I’d say “Sherlock Holmes” represents not a radical reinterpretation of the character, but instead a nearly revolutionary return to the genuine pulp roots of what Doyle originally envisioned. No matter how beloved the stories have become, and no matter how much technical skill Doyle brought to the table (quite a bit, for the record), his stories were pulp adventure that followed a rigorous formula. It’s little wonder they have been adapted or reinterpreted for film so many times, since the rules were so clearly laid out over the course of the stories he wrote, and the archetypes so clearly defined. What’s amazing is how much they changed in what are now thought of as the “classic” film versions, while here, they’ve reverted to the text as much as possible and suddenly it seems to the general public like they’ve reinvented Holmes. I don’t think most audiences will care, though, because what Guy Ritchie has done, working with a small army of screenwriters and a team of dedicated producers, is tap into the pure pulp adventure spirit of the stories in a way that should leave audiences worn out from being entertained.
–Drew McWeeny, Motion Captured