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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Helena Bonham Carter
Jeremy Irvine
Ralph Fiennes
Sally Hawkins
Jason Flemyng
Robbie Coltrane
Ewen Bremner
Holliday Grainger
David Walliams.
Directors
Mike Newell.
Screenwriters
David Nicholls.
Running Time
129 minutes

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Great Expectations
Pipped to the post


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Plot
Here we go again: the umpteenth adaptation of Dickens’ beloved classic doesn’t play any postmodern games with the tale of Pip (Irvine), the ambitious orphan who climbs the class ladder in pursuit of the hard-hearted Estella (Grainger).


Review
Great Expectations
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It's not the greatness of of expectations that any new take on Dickens’ most romantic novel has to worry about; it’s the subversion of any expectations at all. It had already been filmed several times when David Lean did so definitively in 1946, and so many have since had a go on screens big and small that it’s hard to see just what territory yet another version can stake as its own.

That’s the chief trouble with this well-appointed redo, directed by Mike Newell (back on more comfortably prestigious ground after the ill-advised Prince Of Persia) and written by One Day scribe David Nicholls: there’s nothing it does well that hasn’t at least been equalled, and in similar fashion, by a previous attempt. Its brooding, murky atmospherics still stand in the long shadows of Lean’s film, while Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 modern-dress version betters it for youthful sexual frisson. And you’d think the reliably dotty Helena Bonham Carter would be the Miss Havisham to end all Miss Havishams, but Gillian Anderson brought more tragic mystique to the role on telly last year.

Enough of that, however. For those who haven’t yet encountered this story on screen (or, indeed, on the page), this tidily paced, attractively cast film is a perfectly good primer. The ever-improving Jeremy Irvine makes an appealing Pip, Ralph Fiennes is a suitably grizzled Magwitch and Nicholls, who knows a thing or two about slow-burning love stories, has done a fair York Notes filleting job on the text — if it lacks the emotional punch of other adaptations, at least it doesn’t compromise the shamelessly soapy momentum of Dickens’ yarn-spinning. Newell, meanwhile, lends a wind-tossed, storm-hued style to proceedings, suggesting he’s seen Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights — even if he daren’t match the liberties that film took with an equivalent classic.


Verdict
It’s handsome, involving and stars the cream of British acting talent — but so did Lean’s unbeatable version, and Newell and Nicholls’ safe, schoolteacher-friendly interpretation makes no real case for going down this much-travelled road once more.


Reviewed by Guy Lodge

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Great Expectations
Empire Star Rating

DISENGAGING

Interesting costumes,scenes,behaviour but caricatures rather than characters. No emotional engagement with this viewer.An interesting oddity. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Alex of Africa at 20:17, 10 August 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Enjoyable, if maybe *too* likeable?

An ok adaptation...but i agree with the review its been done better before and its hard for any adaption to put a new spin on the classic. The BBC version in 2011 (Xmas) was much better IMO. I thought that Jeremy Irvine made for a slightly weak Pip - his Pip of the forge was great but he weakened when he became gentlemen Pip. With Great Expectations its very hard for any movie to pack in all thats in the novel. An ok adaptation but nothing special. ... More

Posted by princessa at 20:35, 29 March 2013 | Report This Post


RE: Enjoyable, if maybe *too* likeable?

Meh. Meh meh meh meh meh. Except the cast, which was terrific, but otherwise, meh. ... More

Posted by Hood_Man at 02:25, 15 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Enjoyable, if maybe *too* likeable?

Great Expectations? It wasn't all I'd hoped for... ... More

Posted by Super Hans at 19:31, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


Enjoyable, if maybe *too* likeable?

After having my fingers burned with Jane Eyre, I'm glad that a film like this restores the balance somewhat. Although, while I'll be interested to see other adaptations of Great Expectations, I'm not entirely sure I've been switched on to Dickens. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheMightyBlackout at 09:51, 14 December 2012 | Report This Post


Well made

but how many times can we watch the same story? time to give it a rest. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by richard1992 at 14:12, 06 December 2012 | Report This Post


My first time

Never read it, never bothered with a previous version. Really quite enjoyed it and am now slightly more inclined to see a bigger/better version. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 19:06, 02 December 2012 | Report This Post


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