watson: "Follow your spirit..."
holmes and watson: "And upon this charge, cry god for Harry, England and St. George!"
I will not insult your holmesian intelligence by trying to explain why I think that is cool.
Watson is less of the bumbling self of the books and stories and more like the Watson in The Doctor's Last Case by Stephen King. This makes the leading characters intellectual equals who are drastically different psychologically and sets the stage for the kind of sparring that embellishes a buddy/action film ideal for the season. Lord Blackwood is a great villain and there are some expected setpieces to justify your overpriced ticket and popcorn, but the CG is painfully obvious in the final crash and bang sequences.
I have to confess being more entertained than shocked at Robert Downey Jr's interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. Jeremy Brett's definitive portrayal in the TV series had reportedly taken a toll on the late actor (in a manner similar to what the Joker had done to Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight). I don't see that happening here. Where Brett's Holmes is intelligent, cold, dispassionate, obsessive and depressive, the Sherlock Holmes of 2009 is smart, socially gauche, witty and often sarcastic and yet cares for Watson, respects his intelligence and is also not lacking a soul (watch the eyes). I also liked the short voiceovers representing the mind of Sherlock Holmes as he describes his moves when dealing with goons or boxing opponents. And I loved The Rocky Road to Dublin (used in the boxing sequence and the end credits), which, sadly, was not included on the official soundtrack release. Thankfully, I found a version on a compilation of hits by The Dubliners, and I'm now temporarily swaying and laughing to Irish jigs.
The inevitable sequel is underway and perhaps the mystery of the uncredited voice of Dr. Moriarty will also be solved soon. If they get the CG right (or perhaps get less ambitious with the stunts), this might be a series worth watching. Unless you are a purist. May the dog be with you.