If I get a little cash as a present I may go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie that stars Robert Downey Jr. I would do so for two reasons. First, it looks like a fun little movie. Second, there’s an awful lot of screaming from alleged “true fans” that show they haven’t really read the books.
I’m flabbergasted by how many people are more influenced by Basil Rathborne than by Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes boxed and was an expert fencer, stick fighter, and pistolier. Somewhere along the line he learned at least one martial art (called by Doyle ‘baritsu’, and probably bartitsu.) He was suave and pleasant with the ladies as long as they were relevant to his case, only becoming dismissive when that no longer applied. The only possible exception is The Woman, the woman who outsmarted him (and looking at the trailers carefully i suspect “again” applies), Irene Adler. (Look at that trailer again. He apparently barged in uninvited. He gets drugged. He is then seen by the maid in that… interesting position, needing help. All at the hand of… Irene Adler.)
“But Holmes never fights in the books,” went one complaint I read. Actually, yes. In fact in one tale (adventure of the solitary cyclist) the fight is described. In most of the rest of the books the fight is swiftly summarized. That said I will point out such was common for most books of the era describing fights. Doyle was a late Victorian author, though his later works were written in Edwardian times it was the Victorians with whom he is matched for style. Even those authors of the time who delved into brawling, such as Conrad and Kipling, are evocative instead of descriptive.
As to the inevitably impeccable dress worn by Rathborne, I could start by pointing out Holmes was a drug addict. I will go further, however, and note that in more than one tale Watson describes Holmes as being so involved in something (usually chemistry, though sometimes during events of the case at hand) that his dress became disheveled.
Oh, I’m quite aware that the main part of the story goes quite beyond Doyle. A sorcerer back from the dead (or so, at least, it appears)? Note the parenthetical — if true. Baskerville, anyone? And if it is true, well, I’ll go with it.
Understand, it could be a terrible movie. It could turn out to be so rife with action it buries an incomprehensible plot. But the objections I’m hearing about being false to Sherlock Holmes are, well, they’re telling me how well these folk actually paid attention. Yep, Holmes was a detective.
So were Boston Blackie and Doc Savage.