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With Jim Sabatini

Great Expectations (2013)

Great Expectations (2013)
Toby Irvine, Jeremy Irvine, Jason Flemyng, Holliday Grainger, Helena Bonham Carter

Rated: PG-13 for some violence including disturbing images.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: November 15, 2013 Released by: Main Street Films

A new adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel (not as many though as A Christmas Carol) stars siblings Toby and Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) as the young and older orphan Pip.

Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) directs well enough to offer up a thriller (A Nightmare Before Christmas-style) from fairy-tale, mystery, and twisted romantic elements. Even enthusiasts of the source and its many other movie versions like those by David Lean (the best) and Alfonso Cuaron, will note that it overstays its welcome but flounders in trying to build up noticeable momentum. That's in spite of well-accoutered set designs and a matte finish to more than approximate Victorian England.

A tale of a humble orphan who inherits a windfall from an unlikely benefactor generates some sparks in a gritty trajectory to a decidedly sentimental flourish. Irvine has some key scenes with a blacksmith uncle (Jason Flemyng) as well as the steely Estella (a somewhat captivating Holliday Grainger). Estella happens to be the hoity-toity adopted daughter of odd recluse Miss Havisham where Pip was remanded, endowed by Helena Bonham Carter (Les Miserables-2012) as in some of her collaborations with Tim Burton. Maybe her less bonkers, underplaying of the part adds to a more underwhelming effect as is to a degree Ralph Fiennes in limning out nasty, ex-convict Magwitch first seen in the marshes aided by the younger Pip.

It's not that this Great Expectations doesn't merit the experience of watching a skilled filmmaker and a solid cast recounting such a rich tale; it's just that at nearly epic length it loses dramatic focus and urgency that even recent small-screen versions have combated. Even when Gillian Anderson arguably inhabited an eerily wrenching and original Miss Havisham.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Great Expectations (2013)        C+                     C+ 

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