As I sit sometimes and look at my wall of movies, I’m perpetually amazed at how many have come from classic works of literature. Not all, mind you, but a good share. And with Hollywood being, well, Hollywood, we’ve got multiple versions of many of the same films. I was also reminded of what a profound influence the great Charles Dickens played in our society when watching The Invisible Woman (also starring Ralph Fiennes) a couple of weeks ago. Dickens’ works have been adapted into films on many occasions, though the ones that are most noted would be the title in question, A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist. I’d also managed to catch Alfonso Cuaron’s adaptation of this film, though it was set in 20th century New York and starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert DeNiro in the title roles. Director Mike Newell took this version back to basics, so is it worth checking out for the umpteenth time or not? Let’s find out.
Unlike the 1998 version, Newell’s Great Expectations goes back to the roots as we meet Pip (Jeremy Irvine), an orphan who’s not had a terribly pleasant life. However fate has dealt Pip a winning hand via a mysterious benefactor and Pip finds himself the recipient of a nice chunk of property. This gift is more than just property, though, it’s also a way for him to change his life for the better and, more to the point, get into the high society of London. Pip, now a “gentleman” meets and pursues the lovely Estella (Holliday Grainger), though it’s not as easy as it might seem. And, of course, should anyone find out Pip’s past it might be seen as a point of embarrassment. As with the novel, all of the usual suspects are here, albeit with a different set of actors. Ralph Fiennes plays Magwitch to a tee, Helena Bonham Carter plays the coveted role of Miss Havisham and throw in Robbie Coltrane as Jaggers and Jayson Flemyng as Joe.
Video: How’s it look?
This is a bit tricky as the 2.40:1 AVC HD encode looks good in some scenes and in others has what I call a Love Story effect. What is that effect, you ask? Well it’s more of a soft focus giving everything a somewhat blurred look. Now that sounds bad, but it’s really not as bad as all that. I have no doubt that this was intentional and not a fault of the transfer as Fox usually does a great job with their new to Blu-ray films. Director Mike Newell has shown in other films that he’s got a great eye, so though the visual appearance is a bit on the inconsistent side, it balances out quite nicely.
Audio: How’s it sound?
While not an audio powerhouse, Great Expectations does contain a mildly impressive DTS HD Master Audio mix. Vocals take front and center here (literally) and though the accents are a bit hard to decipher at times, it’s no fault of this lossless mix. Surrounds are always present, adding a bit of depth to some key scenes, such as those in London. LFE aren’t really that involved and the front stage bears the burden of the majority of the mix. All told, it’s not bad by any means, but there’s not a whole lot else that left a lasting impression either.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The picking are a bit slim when it comes to the supplements…
Great Expectations: Premiere – A very brief (3 minutes) segment with some interviews with the cast and crew and some selected scenes from the film.