Great Expectations is yet another well-intentioned adaptation and the cast on the surface appear to be right for their parts, but together with an uneven script and poor pacing makes for a film that never quite gels in spite of a respectable crop of actors. I can’t say this is a particularly bad movie but this certainly not something I will have any desire to revisit anytime soon.
Genre(s): Drama, Romance
Fox | PG13 – 128 min. – $39.99 | April 15, 2014
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
An adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations is nothing new with a different version coming out seemingly every 5 years or so, each filmmaker attempts to bring their own spin on the beloved story. Now, my reference for the material isn’t vast having never read the book and don’t have much recollection of the other adaptations, so there will be no comparisons and just taking this version on its own… and it’s a bit of a snooze-fest.
The story opens with a young boy, Pip (TOBY IRVINE), going to clean his family’s gravestone (father, mother, siblings), when he’s accosted by an escaped prisoner (RALPH FIENNES) who threatens him to bring food, booze and a file to remove his chains and strangely enough, Pip complies despite living in a home with a witch of a sister and his kindly, submissive, blacksmith brother-in-law, Joe Gargery (JASON FLEMYING). The following day, however, soldiers catch up and recapture the convict during a fight with a fellow escapee, though the convict does not give up Pip’s involvement.
Meanwhile, Pip is sent over to a dilapidated mansion resided by the reclusive, manipulative and downright strange Miss Havisham (HELENA BONHAM CARTER), to be a playmate for her daughter, Estella, whom Pip immediately falls in love with, solidified over the course of multiple visits. As someone not entirely familiar with the novel, this is certainly a strange sequence and perhaps one of the few interesting parts of this otherwise dull film…
Some years later, Pip (JEREMY IRVINE) receives a visit from lawyer Mr. Jaggers (ROBBIE COLTRANE) who reveals Pip is in line for a large sum of money thanks to a benefactor who wished to remain anonymous. Pip immediately sets off for London where he gets to fulfill his dream to become a “gentleman”, spending money, associating with snobbish rich folk including the boorish Bentley Drummle (BEN LLOYD-HUGHES) who has taken a liking, for the lack of a better word, to the now grown-up Estella (HOLLIDAY GRAINGER) as Pip’s love for her still is aflame.
Quick Hit Review:
Great Expectations is littered with gorgeous cinematography, by Oscar nominee John Mattieson (2004’s The Phantom of the Opera and Gladiator), impressive costumes from Beatrix Aruna Pasztor (Aeon Flux, Vanity Fair) and amazing/detailed set designs. So, on a technical front, the film doesn’t fail to amaze but when it comes to things like the script, adapted by David Nicholls (One Day), editing and overall pacing, it makes for one dull and downright boring film certainly filled with some fine performances but none of it really gels very well.
Helmed by Mike Newell best known for his work on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, never fails to bring forth beautiful photography, as mentioned before, yet despite all this movie has going for it, not least of all well respected and loved source material, this adaptation is at best uneven and although the running time is a respectable 128-minutes, the flow was way off and I even briefly zoned out during some portions.
I don’t know how this version of Great Expectations compares with the novel or other adaptations, but for my money it’s not really worth the time or expense unless you want to see it out of pure curiosity, otherwise skip this one and check out any number of the others.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
The bonus material is quite limited with only Great Expectations Premiere (3:37; HD) features interviews with the cast and crew interspersed with scenes from the movie; the Theatrical Trailer (2:29; HD) and the redemption code for the Digital Copy.
Previews – Romeo and Juliet, Cowgirls N’ Angels 2: Dakota’s Summer, Still Mine
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Great Expectations comes to Blu-ray presented in its original 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and with a 1080p high-definition transfer. As was mentioned in my review, the visuals in this movie is absolutely brilliant and comes through quite nicely with colors that, albeit drab, still looks decent to go along with the sharp detail levels.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track meanwhile is a bit inconsistent. Through most of the film, the audio sounds good showcasing crisp and clear dialogue levels coming via the center channel with the front and rear speakers relegated for on-screen action (for the front) and ambient noises (for the back). Now, where this gets a bit wonky is in the final act, in the water, this sequence was incredibly soft especially compared with the rest of the film.
OVERALL – 2.25/5
Overall, Great Expectations is yet another well-intentioned adaptation and the cast on the surface appear to be right for their parts, but together with an uneven script and poor pacing makes for a film that never quite gels in spite of a respectable crop of actors. I can’t say this is a particularly bad movie but this certainly not something I will have any desire to revisit anytime soon. The Blu-ray offers up good video/audio transfers but the special features are, at best, limited.