So I saw the movie this weekend and enjoyed it. Frycroft was indeed awesome, and surprisingly the gypsy lady was not at all a love interest. Moriarty and Moran were both super satisfying too.
I will say that this movie has the same problem that the first one had--a bad trailer that puts you off the film. Remember how the first movie trailer had the scene of Irene dressed in a slutty corset and attacking Holmes with a hairpin? It made me fear the movie would make Irene nothing but a tacky sexpot. Fortunately, that scene got cut out from the finished film. Although Irene was unfortunately a criminal, she was dressed modestly most of the time and even wore male clothing just like in SCAN. Holmes didn't even seem to requite her feelings.
In the trailers for the sequel, I was quite put off by the clip of Holmes in drag on the train, and him later being shirtless on the floor of the train. Made me dread the film horribly. Though those scenes aren't cut out of the finished movie, they were far more tolerable in the context of the whole movie.
First, all of Holmes's disguises are that bad throughout the film. You can literally see the seam of the baldcap in his Chinese disguise. Yet in the internal logic of the film, Holmes somehow gets away with that badness, fooling Moriarty often. It's part of the comedy, along with his "urban camouflage."
And the whole business on the train is Holmes trying to save Watson and Mary after Moriarty has made an explicit threat to them; it's not just Holmes frivolously trying to ruin their honeymoon. (Although he does have trouble letting go, and his shoving Mary out of the train is a little much; fortunately she's soon rescued.) Mary gets good scenes with Mycroft later and does take part in the case from afar, showing that Holmes does trust her, and reinforcing his comment in SIGN that Mary Morstan might be "useful" in their detective profession.
Not that women are excluded from the main case though. The gypsy woman is a pseudo-client, in that Holmes delivers a letter to her and stops her from being assassinated by Moriarty's henchman. Then they travel to France to find her missing brother, who is working for Moriarty. Holmes and Watson never say that she should stay behind and be safe like a good Victorian lady; no, she comes right along with them and helps them and fights with them. I thought of her like a spunky Violet Hunter, who in "Copper Beeches" was brave enough to do a lot of her own investigating of her case. So I was very pleased by this.
Irene Adler does not feature in the main plot because she is only in the beginning of the film. She outsmarted Holmes again, but I didn't like her strange behavior with him. She was asking him out to dinner at the same time that she was leaving him to be beat up by Moriarty's henchmen. After all her concern in the last movie, and her warning him off from the professor! Weirder still, Holmes reciprocated Irene's crazy flirting; he didn't object to being kissed casually, and he showed up to the restaurant for the proposed date. That's some twisted relationship they have, especially since in the last movie I got the impression that Holmes didn't love her back. Perhaps Holmes was leading her on just to learn more about Moriarty from her. Anyway, I was glad for her to be killed off, though I had expected Moran to do it when it was offscreen.
Speaking of Colonel Moran, he was awesome. He didn't wield any rifle-like airgun, but he did use a blowdart thing to poison a few people. He also gets to use guns later, especially in the steampunky munitions factory. I liked how refined he was and that he really did seem to be second-in-command of the organization, unlike some other films (like Without a Clue) where Moran is a mere thug/assassin who doesn't match Moriarty in class and intelligence.
As for the professor, they changed Moriarty slightly from the books by giving him a boxing backstory, I guess to make the physical fight in the end better, but that was okay to me. Overall he was still the cold intellectual operating a spider web in the shadows, malevolent and omnipresent. Even though I don't like the plot of precursors to World War I, which is done in so many pastiches, the plot wasn't too bad here. They showed that Moriarty was sadistic yet icy calm, like I enjoyed in Without a Clue. It's everything that's missing in the horrible Jim from BBC Sherlock. That's one of their worst blunders.
Anyway, Stephen Fry as Mycroft was even more eccentric than Sherlock, and he had some great funny scenes. About the only thing I didn't like between the brothers were the nicknames Mikey and Shirley (or perhaps they spell them Mykey and Sherly). Just a little too absurd for my taste.
I do think Guy Ritchie's frenetic pace in the action sequences was disorienting and weird, though. I still have no idea what we were being shown in the scene on the train where Holmes somehow disabled several guns with a lipstick while in the bathroom. Sometimes you just can't tell what's going on, so you have to shrug it off. But I do appreciate Ritchie's version of a cliffhanger. Just like in the first movie, you see the main plot finish and the case solved, but you have an extra scene that points to the next case. In the same way, Ritchie ended his version of "Final Problem" with a little hint of Holmes's return. That way he can make you crave the next movie, but he hasn't cheated you out of a complete story.
BBC Sherlock's cliffhanger, on the other hand, is quite hateful and manipulative.