Once again, I find myself in full agreement with you, but (like our viewpoints on Beowulf) those things ultimately did not get me to dislike the film. The marketing was pretty bogus, though, as you say.
I did read the book before watching the film (as my daughter had just received it as a gift at the time), so I was perhaps more prepared for the schizophrenic nature of how the themes of the story were presented. (Dickensian moppet-mystery robot tale-mystery old guy tale-film appreciation lesson-and back to the moppet.) Somehow that type of thing comes off a tad better in a book than a film (though it was a little odd in the book too), but reading the book first made me more forgiving of the film that emulates it. I could get past the disjointedness because I already knew the story as told in chapter-form.
Ultimately, I loved the rediscovery of Melies at the end, even if the circumstances were fictional. I do admit that I found the entire (book and film) story laughably implausible (way too many coincidences), but tried to keep in mind that this was actually a fairy tale for children, more or less. The end result was pleasing to me, though the story can be critically picked apart with ease.
The station romances were a not unwelcome add-on to the film, though the film also drops at least one important character too. Overall, I found it a decent adaptation, though I would have tried to keep the deleted character (IIRC, he brought them to the film library). It was nice seeing Christopher Lee given an important role, however, which somewhat took the place of the other character.
My daughter, now 11, enjoyed both the book and the film. They also got us watching Meliés films together, so that’s cool too. I do see that the “film buff” angle doesn’t present itself as necessarily kid-friendly, but it worked for my kid. And my 5-year old son later watched the film at home on our 3D set-up, and he also quite enjoyed it, so there ya go.
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