Jolly good showstopper.
Captions don't count: I expected a junked-up, summer-movie'd Holmes, and was pleasantly surprised that while, yes, those fripperies were still persistent, there was quite a ripping tale within. I happily fell head-over-Reichenbach-Falls for this feature. A few disappointments: Rachel McAdams lacked the right amount of gravitas to play a wiley love interest who's nearly as smart as Holmes; and Holmes himself, while still up to his usual astonishing deductive leaps, intuits just One Too Far when he guesses the nature of a device found under Parliament. (I mean really, Holmes, you just took one glance at this steampunk water heater and sussed out the natal stages of wireless transmission, did you?) Still and all, a right jolly ride thanks to Downey and Law swimming in a mystery flavored like fun. Science-versus-magic is a standard story stand-off, beginning with Arthur Conan Doyle himself and continuing through his detective's many iterations, but the pairing feels lively and brand new here. My wife gave a mild scowl to some of Holmes' stab-in-the-dark deductions (yes, Holmes does have a really keen … and convenient … sense of smell) but if you're steeped in his deerstalkered tradition, this shouldn't pose much of a problem. I liked especially the distancing of Holmes from a suave, uptight Rathbone-type in favor of the socially stunted, poorly bathed misanthrope whose unrelenting calculations extend even to his bare-knuckled brawling. Now THAT’s a detective worthy of a cuss like Moriarty.
A Retort extra:
Quick, you've got 10 seconds to play the final round of "What's That Object?" Annnd, Mr. Holmes has buzzed in first ... your answer, sir? Hunh. "Remote-controlled gaseous poison infuser effective only on those who haven't taken its antidote" is correct! Mr. Holmes wins again!