Holmes being near perfect in most of the stories while Watson gradually devolves into a complete buffoon makes sense when you think about who's supposedly writing these stories, Dr. Watson himself after the fact and thus through Nostalgia Goggles. Reading the stories it becomes quite clear that these stories are being written from the perspective of someone who damned near worships Holmes from the beginning. It's highly likely that when writing these stories Watson props up Holmes intelligence and competence while simply ignoring, skipping over, or forgetting most of the bad or incompetent moments of Holmes or his own moments of intelligence and competence to make his friend look good while fixating on his own faults at the same time. This only becomes more and more pronounced as the years and the stories go by and thus book Holmes looks more competent while book Watson looks more like an idiot.
A lot has been made of the apparent disparity between Holmes's knowledge in A Study in Scarlet (where he had nil knowledge of Literature and didn't even know that the earth circled the sun) and the remainder of the stories (where he is able to quote Goethe and Flaubert in the original). But consider this; at the time of A Study in Scarlet Watson was, by his own account, an unemployed idler and Holmes was furiously attempting to start his detective business up. Of course he wouldn't particular care who Thomas Carlyle was, not at a time when he may have been trying to prove someone's innocence. He would, however, care very deeply about how to prove where someone had been from the type of mud on their clothes and might talk to Watson about this as a way of sorting his own thoughts out. It wasn't until later on when he had bonded with Watson that he became comfortable enough to talk about trivialities.
It's also not impossible that Holmes might've picked up a few things from living with Watson.
If you read A Study in Scarlett carefully you will see that he is willfully, deliberately ignorant of things not relevant to his work. He thinks that human memory is limited, comparing it to a room, and that one should be careful with what to furnish it with. He expressly states that he will try to forget what Watson just told him. Supposedly he abandoned this misconception about how memory works later in his life.
The Hound of the Baskervilles:
Watson remarks on the death of the escaped convict Neil Selden, brother of Henry Baskerville's butler's wife, that "Evil indeed is the man who has not one woman to mourn him." After the hound set loose by Stapleton fails to kill Henry Baskerville, his abused wife gleefully leads Holmes and Watson to his hideout. Watson doesn't outright say it, but this gives a strong impression of just how evil Stapleton is. (althechi)
The novel opens with Holmes reading about Dr James Mortimer who has written papers on 'Is Disease a Reversion', 'Some Freaks of Atavism' and 'Do we regress?'. Atavism is defined as 'The tendency to revert to ancestral type'. Later on, we discover that the main villain, Stapleton is a relative of the Baskervilles. How? By the fact that he looks almost identical to the painting of the evil Sir Hugo Baskerville (who was responsible for the Baskerville curse). In other words, Stapleton is a reversion to the evil Baskerville type and we have an incredibly brilliant piece of foreshadowing. Culfy
Minor example combined with Values Dissonance: In "The Sign of Four", the kennel-keeper from whom Watson acquires the tracking dog Toby keeps a badger in his home. Most modern readers will dismiss his remarking on this as a (weak) injection of comedy. However, readers in Victorian times and those familiar with the era's customs will catch on that the badger is probably there as live bait for the dogs: possibly to train them what badgers smell like, but more likely so they can practice killing badgers. Not very horrific when written, but an ugly notion reminiscent of blood sports today.
The whole concept of Moriarty being a university professor is pretty horrifying in the fridge sense. Imagine, for those who go or have been to university, that one of your own lecturers was secretly a murderous evil criminal mastermind. Amusing at first but if you dwell on it, its kind of disturbing. Someone so abhorrent such as Moriarty having such a strong influence on the young and their education. And nobody has reason to suspect a damn thing. It's not just your professors. It could be your friends, your parents, your siblings, your school teachers, even just a person you walked past on the street. Who knows what kind of double lives people lead?
Blackwood kills the ginger dwarf with cyanide (which deprives the body of air), and buries him in the earth. He kills his father in a bathtub filled with fire-heated water. He kills the American lodge member with by setting him on fire with what said member thought to be rain. And finally, his machine, beneath the earth, would poison the very air Parliament breathed.It's elementary. — Jonn
Lord Blackwood's death ended up being an unintentional replacement for the parliament. How, you ask? Lord Blackwood died by hanging, in the air, from a bridge, which connects two pieces of earth.
The scene where Holmes is confronted by Lord Coward. Holmes shuts the fireplace to fill the room with smoke and prevent Coward from shooting him. How Holmes doesn't cough in the middle of all that smoke? Take in consideration how heavy smoker he is especially in books.
Why didn't Watson come to Holmes' aid atop Tower Bridge, and where did Blackwood get a sword for his final fight? Look closely: Blackwood is wielding Watson's sword cane, which Holmes of course makes sure to take with him at the end. Watson loses his sword cane when he gets thumped by the large French fellow, and he doesn't regain it during the ensuing fight scene. Blackwood might have found it on the sewer floor.
One of the points of criticism that was raised was that Holmes and Watson's relationship was more tense and prone to bickering than their solid friendship in the original novels. Of course, if you subscribe to the idea that Watson's a bit of an Unreliable Narrator and that the movie is getting under the skin of the original stories this makes a bit more sense, since Watson's hardly going to write about all the times that he and Holmes bicker like an old married couple.
Also this troper would like to fill this in somewhat. He has a Heterosexual Life Partner in real life. While our friendship can never be broken, we bicker A LOT, often sounding like a married couple. So having them bicker for me didn't make it feel as if they were less friends. The opposite, they were so good friends they were basically married. This is the reason Holmes is so jealous of Watson's fiance!
I'd reverse that cause and effect - after years of sharing a home, a job and a life, Watson is marrying someone else, moving away and quitting the detective business. Holmes is enormously jealous and feeling abandoned and is lashing out at his best friend.
Holmes drinking eye surgery medicine just seems like an amusing throwaway joke, until you learn that cocaine was widely used in Victorian times as an local anesthetic for eye surgery. In the books, Holmes' drug of choice was cocaine rather than alcohol.
Even better, Holmes's creator Conan Doyle, specialised as an opthalmologist (eye doctor) in real life.
You know that mysterious wind during the opening sequence? The cops show up a few seconds later. It wasn't a wind, it was a draft from them opening the door.
At the end of the film, look closer at the ring Holmes gave to Mary and Watson... "Is that the Maharajah's missing diamond?"
There's even a clue to this as the last thing we saw Holmes do before this scene was grab Irene's necklace which held the diamond.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
The Chess Motifs throughout the film cast Holmes and his allies as the black pieces, and Holmes takes the black side when he and Moriarty play chess in the Grand Finale. This clashes with the general color-coding of pop culture, which mandates that Light is Good and Dark Is Evil. But in chess, white and black have nothing to do with good and evil, but rather with offense and defense. White moves first by default, and is therefore on offense, while black moves second, putting them on defense. And Holmes is very much on defense throughout most of the movie.
A rule in chess is that if a pawn makes it to the other side of the board, it is promoted to a queen. Mary was pretty much a 'pawn' in the game since she didn't have much of a role in the case except as Watson's wife. However, at the end, she was instrumental in taking down Moriarty's organization because Moriarty was too busy with Holmes and Watson to notice her. In other words, Holmes turned Mary from a pawn to a queen.
Easy to not notice because it is so funny, but during the climax of Game of Shadows, Holmes reveals that he swapped Moriaty's note book with one containing flick picture of a fish eating the fisherman, harkening back to Moriaty's boast in the torture scene. The fridge logic is that Holmes only managed to swap the books immediately during that same torture scene. So what, did he know in advance how Moriaty was going to specifically (and so unpleasantly) tease him?
As mentioned over at the Headscratchers page, the same piece of music was playing when they met at the university, and they discussed it, with the metaphorical subtext being clearly understood between the two of them.
Alternatively, Holmes actually drew the entire flip book during the torture scene, in brief moments whenever Moriarty's back was turned. Because Holmes is just that good.
He must have prepared the duplicate book long before the torture scene, because he'd already tried and failed to pull off the switch at Moriarty's hotel. He couldn't have just been trying to steal the book and leave nothing in its place that time, because Moriarty would've surely noticed its absence too soon for Lestrade and Mary to purloin his fortune.
Every event in The Final Problem happens in some form or another in Game of Shadows. Watson just toned it down into the "marketable" story that Conan Doyle published.
At the end of the first film, Watson and Mary find Holmes hanging from the ceiling. Watson quickly says: "Suicide is not in his repertoire, he's far too fond of himself for that." - Cut to the final confrontation at the end of the second film and it appears Holmes has in fact killed himself to stop the villain. He really is too fond of himself.
There are plenty of instances with gay subtext in 'The Game of Shadows' but one is particularly subtle. Apparently, Brighton has a substantial Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It was called 'The Gay Capital of Britan'. This is where Watson and Mary are going to have their honeymoon.
That is a bit of a stretch - Brighton's (well deserved, bless it) reputation for gayness is modern and in fact the more obvious connotation of the town, to British viewers at least, is that Brighton is the traditional destination for the 'dirty weekend'. It's exactly where young couples, whether married or no, headed for rumpy-pumpy.
At the time, Brighton was also the entertainment capital of Britain. Think of it as a somewhat classier version of a week in Vegas and you're pretty on the money.
When Holmes and Moriarty meet in Moriarty's classroom, both make perfectly clear that they'll stop at nothing to oppose the other. At first, I was scratching my head and thinking Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? - to both of them. Then I realized, this is Holmes and Moriarty. It's completely in character for both of them to want the challenge of a Worthy Opponent.
1891 was a hallmark in the road to World War One in Real Life, as it was the year that the Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria and Italy was renewed (in response to France approaching Italy), France and Russia signed an alliance, and Britain refused an alliance offer from Germany. So Mycroft's comment that the conference's aim is to defuse the current crisis between France and Germany (who were sworn enemies since the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871) but that in case it doesn't work everybody else is there to decide which side they pick is part this and part Shown Their Work.
At first it seems anachronistic for the weapons used during the train yard shootout, like the Mauser C96, to be appearing in 1891, and simply an example of a cool and rare gun being shoehorned into a Victorian story. It's perfectly plausible for Moriarty's weapons business to be involved in advanced weapon design, and the Maxim machine gun that formed the basis of semi-automatic research was almost a decade old at the time of Game of Shadows. After Moriarty's death and the collapse of his empire, the plans would have been taken and developed into the C96 model half a decade later.
In Real Life, the design work on the C96 had already been underway in 1893.
At first, many of the weird, steampunk-like things appearing in both films appear to be merely Anachronism Stew designed to appeal to fans of 21st century action movies. But when you take a closer look, many of the elements—weird weaponry, concerns over foreign invasions, and stories about phony supernatural events—are exactly the sort of stories Victorian fans of Arthur Conan Doyle's works would have seen in other popular stories and novels of the day. This isn't a research error for the Victorian Era, but a careful reconstruction of the tropes found period pulp fiction that eventually inspired our current action movie cliches.
Why does Mycroft have a personal oxygen supply at the peace summit? Because, as he mentions in a throwaway line near the start of the film, he suffers from asthma, which is made worse by the high altitude.
The Cossack has chest protection against Simza's knives. Watch Holmes' mental version of the fight again. Entirely by coincidence, he never strikes the Cossack in the chest.
If either Holmes or Moriarty had simply thought to bring a gun to their final confrontation, he could have killed his opponent without risking his own life.
They were at a peace conference, and tensions were already high enough. Bringing a gun and having it found would have been extremely bad.
First off, they're both quite capable of concealing weapons if need be. Secondly, the idea that the presence of a gun could raise international tensions may have been a problem for Holmes, but not for Moriarty. Moriarty wants to increase international tensions.
Yes, but he also wants to survive/retain his freedom long enough to profit off the tensions. He's not doing this For the Evulz, he's doing it as a war profiteer. Not a lot political shuffling would save him from, best case, incarceration if he's found packing heat there.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Bear with me here, but there is a distinct possibility that MORIARTY IS ALIVE. Holmes is shown to survive the fall from the castle by using the oxygen device he ostensibly took from Mycroft. This got me wondering - why on earth would Mycroft have had one in the first place? Simple - the altitude of the castle meant the air would be thin. Thus, all the guests of summit would likely have had such a device - including Moriarty.
Mycroft implies that it's merely a new toy for him. He describes it as his personal O2 supply. Plus, since he suffers from asthma, he probably bought it with him to help him cope with his condition.
Actually, I caught a clue that may imply that Moriarty is indeed alive... The last we see of Sebastian Moran is when Simza's brother dies. He's shown leaving the party. Moriarty hadn't fallen off of Reichenbach Falls yet and wasn't going to for another good 6 minutes. Sebastian most likely was making his way down the mountainside when he would've heard the sound of Moriarty screaming (as the film shows us when it slows down). It's later said that neither body was found. What if Sebastian fished Moriarty out of the river and is revitalizing him somewhere?
You really think he would have heard Moriarty' scream over the roaring falls?
Holmes crashing Watson's honeymoon in (terrible) drag is indisputably hilarious, but let's talk about travel times for a moment. Even today, Cambridge to London isn't exactly a short trip. Holmes' meeting with Moriarty is sometime after 4 PM, when the Professor's lecture concludes. Watson and Mary's train appears to be departing in the early evening sometime. It's heavily implied that the reason Holmes is dressed as a woman is because he simply grabbed the first available disguise and "made do" in a mad rush to the station, not even bothering to shave, because he wasn't certain if he was going to make the train. And he had the entire journey back to London to imagine what was going to happen to Watson and Mary if he didn't.
As Holmes said: "Not my best disguise, I'll admit..."
The Game of Shadows app lists Moriarty's university as King's College, London. (If I'm remembering correctly, Holmes first described Moriarty as "the boxing champion of Cambridge, where he made friends with our current Prime Minister." He's talking about the Prof's alma mater, not his current employer.)