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Now: Sherlock Holmes (2009)Then: Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
When director Guy Ritchie was handed the reins of Sherlock Holmes, there was grousing about his decision to reinvent the iconic detective as an action hero. But almost all Holmes movies have put a new spin on the detective. Remember Barry Levinson’s Young Sherlock Holmes? That 1985 flick had Holmes and his sidekick Watson as young students at a London boarding school. Is the Robert Downey, Jr. vehicle just a muscle-flexing retread of Levinson’s movie? Here’s our comparison. (Beware: Spoilers abound for both movies!)
Sherlock Holmes, Swashbuckling Action Hero
Sherlock Holmes: This Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.) might have a brilliant mind, but he’s got serious brawn as well: He’s an expert bare-knuckle fighter, swordsman, and martial artist extraordinaire.
Young Sherlock Holmes: This Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) isn’t exactly beefy, but he seems to spends more time swordfighting than he does investigating crimes.
Sherlock Holmes: Holmes and Watson (Jude Law) sneak into an underground temple and thwart the ritual sacrifice of a young woman who’s been drugged.
Young Sherlock Holmes: Holmes and Watson (Alan Cox) sneak into an underground temple and thwart the ritual sacrifice of a young woman who’s been drugged.
The Romantic Interest
Sherlock Holmes: Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams) is a secret agent who shares a romantic past with Holmes. She joins Holmes and Watson on their adventures, and almost dies during the final showdown.
Young Sherlock Holmes: Elizabeth Hardy (Sophie Ward) lives at the school that Holmes and Watson attend; naturally, she and Holmes are in love. She joins the duo on their adventures, and actually dies during the final showdown.
An Ancient Secret Cult
Sherlock Holmes: Under the leadership of the evil Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), the Golden Dawn hopes to seize control of Parliament, and are killing anyone who stands in their way.
Young Sherlock Holmes: Under the leadership of the evil Eh Tar (Anthony Higgins), the Cult of Rame Tep hopes to sacrifice five virgins to restore five Egyptian Princesses whose tombs were removed by British explorers. Needless to say, they too kill anyone who stands in their way.
…And Moriarty Shows Up at the Very, Very End
Sherlock Holmes: After the adventure winds down, we find out that Irene has been working for Moriarty, Holmes’s future nemesis.
Young Sherlock Holmes: After the adventure winds down, we find out in a final shot that Eh Tar has survived the freezing waters of the Thames and has checked himself into a hotel under the name of Moriarty, Holmes’s future nemesis.