Great Expectations film more Harry Potter than Dickens

A cast of Great British thespians from Hogwarts make this latest adaptation jolly family viewing

LAST UPDATED AT 07:42 ON Fri 30 Nov 2012

What you need to know
A new film version of Charles Dickens's classic rags-to-riches tale Great Expectations opens in UK cinemas today. It's directed by Mike Newell with a script by David Nicholls, of One Day fame.

Orphan and blacksmith's boy Pip is transformed into a gentleman with the aid of an unknown benefactor, but he is haunted by his love for the cold young heiress Estella.

Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) stars as Pip and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) is Estella. Helena Bonham Carter appears as Estella's guardian Miss Havisham, Ralph Fiennes as criminal Magwitch and Robbie Coltrane as lawyer Jaggers.

What the critics like
What marks out this version of Great Expectations is the impeccable acting, says Cath Clarke in Time Out. Helena Bonham Carter is "spot-on" as Miss Havisham, a spoilt little rich girl frozen in time. It's a "worthy addition to the heap of adaptations".

It's less Charles Dickens and more a "hybrid of a Victorian thriller and a Harry Potter movie", says Kate Muir in The Times. With "roaring performances" from a cast of Great British thespians from Hogwarts and a zippy script from Nicholls, "this adaptation is jolly, straightforward family viewing, which may bring new readers to the
classic".

Ralph Fiennes's Magwitch is "feral and frightening", says David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter, while Bonham Carter's "goth ghost bride" Miss Havisham "reanimates one of classic literature's greatest inventions".

What they don't like
There's nothing really bad in Newell's film, says Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph. But there's just nothing to set it apart either. "It's another innocuous Great Expectations."

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