Without having seen the prior version of Northanger Abbey, I can't do justice to a comparison, though I can't imagine the older version could rival this one. I understand from other reviews that the old version took the Gothic themes in the novel to absurd lengths, a failing that does NOT apply to this version. The Gothic touches in the film are well done, and definitely add to the plot and character development of the story.
JJ Field as Henry Tilney is superb. He is manly and engaging, and makes a very attractive love interest, yet you can see how his avaricious and cold father has affected him. You can almost see the unhappy little boy he must have been when he says to Catherine Morland "I envy you your happy childhood."
Strong performances are given by every actor in the film, and the script is very true to the book. I am a bit of purist, so it is delightful to see. The only negative was that the film does tend to wrap up very quickly, but possibly that is because the characters are so engaging that you want to hear and see more. The fact that it was filmed in Ireland rather than on location in Bath does not at all detract from the film. On the contrary, the verdant, lush and rugged landscapes add to the Gothic themes central to novel. It is a real joy to watch again and again.