The people who think that Sherlock Holmes didn’t stick to the literary source well enough have probably never read the books. Either that or they lack the ability to not color their experience with the cinematic interpretations of Holmes. Thus far, all of these interpretations have failed to break free from the basic tropes that have replaced the literary Holmes. That is until now.
As for the people who complain that the mystery and the plot are not worthy of the source material, they are right. But, come on! Sometimes you are in the mood for an entertaining yarn with adventure and laughs and couldn’t be bothered with solving a mystery. Maybe the fact that adventures with a Victorian supernatural bent are a guilty pleasure of mine makes me dismiss the fact that there was no real mystery here.
At its core, everything Ritchie and company have done is simply to re-imagine Homes beginning with the stories and not the films. Just about every aspect of the characters and situations we see here have their origin in Doyle. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law make an excellent Holmes and Watson for today. Here is one reviewer that hopes we get more of this franchise.
The one caveat is the story, though. The old story where magic is explained away by the clever use of logic is one thing. To simply replace Victorian superstition and magic with equally ignorant modern day “science” and “chemistry” is downright lazy. How hard is it to have Holmes say, “All of the apparent supernatural activity was really all natural-science-activity.” In the end a made-up chemical reaction is not any better than a magic potion, is it?