I definitely didn't like the whole idea of Stan being turned into a cold-blooded killer, freezing his old man to death and then burning him, purposely poisoning Pete, turning Grindle's face to hamburger (really, was that so necessary, and then picking the man's teeth out of his knuckles?) and giving the bodyguard the Decoy treatment.
The room where Stan and Lilith have their showdown was gorgeously designed, but that whole scene ruined the ambience. Lilith, too, was overwritten and what's with the huge scar on her midsection (with no explanation)? This was the most over-acted performance I've ever seen from Cate Blanchett, I guess she felt the pressure to try and outdo Helen Walker's brilliantly understated performance by overstatement. Fail.
Bradley Cooper was awful as Carlisle, a brooding lout seemingly only out for the money as opposed to Tyrone Power's high-ambition con artist who seemed to get off on deceiving people and playing the big room. I would have much preferred the original choice for the role, Leonardo DiCaprio, who might have reprised the magnetic good-looks charm of Power and the real intentions behind the character. Cooper had to remove his shirt to have any chance at that, and again, fail. Nice muscles, buddy, but you need a haircut and a shave and a different kind of role.
Rooney Mara was a wooden, uninteresting Molly. Mara's terrible in everything so that didn't surprise me. She's a joke in the Americanized Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and seems to think melancholy is the way to go here. Nope. Zeena's character is seriously diminished in the update and that's unfortunate because Toni Collette seemed to have a feel for it. Of course, in keeping with the Del Toro overcooking, she outweeps and outwails Joan Blondell by a mile when Pete dies. Seasoned pro David Straitharn pulls off a new version of Pete with his own distinct abilities and Ron Perlman was OK as Bruno, although we all know Mike Mazurki would snap him in two in a heartbeat. Del Toro throws in a midget, but it's a one-dimensional bit part that adds nothing. Must have wanted to steal some from Carnivale (and he did, liberally), but no one will mistake this little guy for Michael J. Anderson.
Bob says you can't compare the two films but I don't see how you can avoid that because Del Toro take so many of the original scenes and simply overinflates them with more dialogue or more CGI tricks. C'mon, the whole thing with the $1 bills is botched so badly in this remake. It makes absolutely no sense unless you've seen 1947's Stan make that discovery in his getaway cab as he thumbs past the first C note. The scene with the bums was also misplayed. We didn't even get "every boy has a dog" as the crux by which you can play a con. The one thing not reprised is what was needed, but then again, it didn't fit this miserable excuse for Stan in the depressingly dour Cooper.
Again, the film is dazzling to look at, but for me, it was way, way over the top. And whoa, I just read an interview with Del Toro saying he has a 3 1/2-hour version! Meh, this 2 1/2 hour version was more than enough for me. While I've watched the 1947 version numerous times over the years, this was a one-shot viewing. Why would I ever need to watch that AGAIN?