The trouble with any film set in London is that I have lived or worked in the usual - erm - sets. The opening had me thinking, okay that's Middle Temple Lane. It must be said that the re-creation of Victorian London is very well done. The final confrontation is set on a half-built Tower Bridge. Researches (okay - googling) reveals that Tower Bridge was opened in 1894 which dates the period portrayed pretty accurately.
We have a very unconventional Sherlock Holmes portrayed here. He has no deerstalker, hardly smokes a pipe (best not to flaunt that sort of thing - theer may be children watching) and the one he does smoke is not the calabash of tradition. He also has a sideline as a bare knuckle fighter and has a - sort of - girlfriend. To further complicate matters, his sort of girlfriend is a sort of criminal. There is - unless I over-interperet things - one rather obscure visual reference. At one point Holmes is rescued by his sort of girlfriend. We see him draped over a sofa in a garret. Unless I am mistaken, the scene is a straight lift from Henry Wallis's Death of Chatterton (see below).
And the plot? Well the villain of the piece is a Lord Blackwood (why are villains always named black something? Like in the old westerns the bad guys wore black hats. Why not call him Lord Manboobs or somesuch and confuse the hard of thinking?) Lord Blackwood is hanged for all sorts of bad deeds and pronounced dead by Watson (traditionally Watson is portrayed as a bit of a dolt but in another break from tradition Watson is actually rather bright) but breaks out of his elaborate crypt to general alarm. One tiny note of factual criticism: executed prisoners - even aristocratic ones - were buried in the prison grounds - not in well posh crypts. Lord Blackwood is into the black arts and wants to take over the world - including amusingly re-colonising the USA. He fails. If you want to know the rest see the film.
The script actually works largely (see comments on Avatar). The dialogue is crisp and zingy. The action is that of a far more physical Holmes than ever portrayed before. This makes sense. It is visual media not the written word. Different considerations apply.
A parting grumpy old man type enquiry: why doesn't anybody listen to anyone these days? I mean literally. Anyone employed to deal with the public seems to find it too much effort to actually listen to what is being said to/asked of them and accordingly focuses out of any attempt at dialogue and takes a guess at what the latest interruption from doing nothing is saying. Unpicking the mistaken guess involves more dialogue than paying attention in the first place...
And, on that note, a happy new year to one and all!