“My issue with this Mike Newell adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations is not actually the film itself, but it's very existence...”
You see, my issue with this Mike Newell adaptation of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations is not actually the film itself, but it's very existence. Another version (no less than a year after the Primetime Emmy winning TV drama) simply feels redundant in the grand scheme of things.
Having been adapted countless times, to warrant doing it once more you have to bring something new to the table, and to make it unique and innovative enough to justify its cinematic release. However, this feels as though it's all be done before, feeling almost too faithful to the original novel.
We follow the rag-to-riches tale of young orphan Pip (Jeremy Irvine), who suddenly becomes a gentleman and has to move to London thanks to assistance of lawyer Mr. Jaggers (Robbie Coltrane), having inherited a vast amount of money from an unidentified benefactor. Leaving behind his uncle Joe (Jason Flemyng) and love interest Estella (Holliday Grainger), Pip escapes from his humble existence for a whole new world.
However, money isn't the answer to all of the world's problems, and Pip still dreams of a day he can be together with Estella, also missing her adopted mother, the dispirited, jilted bride Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter). Meanwhile, Pip also remains haunted by the vision of convict Magwitch (Ralph Fiennes) of whom he had lent a hand to as a young child; a memory that ties the young man to his youth and previous livelihood, and one that could well catch up with him in later life...
There is no denying the quality of this feature, as despite appearing somewhat superfluous on the whole, you can't find many faults with this film as a stand alone feature. It's well made, intelligently written by One Day writer David Nicholls – and the performances across the board are mostly faultless, if a little self-indulgent. Meanwhile, there is a brilliantly dark, almost gothic feel to this picture which works well, while the cinematography is impressive.
However, there is still something inherently boring about this feature, as despite all of positives mentioned above, that doesn't mean that Newell's Great Expectations does enough to keep you compelled, nor entertained. The film does pick up dramatically in the final act, but reaches high levels of tedium along the way. Well crafted this film may be, but ultimately rather dull.
With the crème de la crème of British cinema on board – not just in front of the screen but behind it also – at the very least you are guaranteed a film of a certain high standard, and although that can't be denied, it's simply the overall enjoyment of the said feature that's in question.