Last Christmas, Guy Ritchie's take on Sherlock Holmes proved to be surprisingly popular at the box office ($209 million in the US alone) thanks to the wonderful rapport between Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, and a pretty stylish production. Unfortunately the weak links were a flimsy plot with very little intrigue, which is a pretty major crime for a franchise spring-boarding off of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective fiction. Hopefully this wrong will be righted in the sequel which has just unveiled its first official still at Hitfix: It's nice to see Holmes and Watson still dressed impeccably (Jenny Beaven's costume design was fantastic so its unsurprising she's back on board here), this time they're accompanied by The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo's Noomi Rapace as Sim, allegedly a French gypsy here attired in milatary garb (a disguise?). Alongside explosions in forests, the plot will feature Holmes' brother Mycroft (Stephen Fry) and arch-nemesis Moriarty (Jared Harris; Lane Price from Mad Men, Captain Mike from Benjamin Button). Poor Rachel McAdams. From the looks of things her Irene Adler has been cut from the sequel. The script has been penned by Kieran and Michele Mulroney who wrote the intriguing Jeff Daniels/Ryan Reynolds superhero drama Paper Man. Guy Ritchie's back at the helm and as long as he, and the writers, can keep the chemistry between Holmes and Watson as fizzy and fun as it was last time they'll have no trouble busting those blocks, let's just hope the plot has more menace and intelligence (with Moriarty and Mycroft in there it better had!) alongside spectacular, Victorian action beats. Personally of the Sherlock Holmes riffs this franchise falls some way behind the wonderful Young Sherlock Holmes (starring Nicholas Rowe who cropped up in Ritchie's 'Lock Stock... and Alan Cox, son of Brian) and Disney's Basil the Great Mouse Detective. Sherlock Holmes will be super sleuthing again on Dec. 16th, 2011.