— by MARIUSZ ZUBROWSKI —
The holidays are a time of family, merriment and long lines at department stores, but they also mark a good time to sit next to the burning yule-log and read the Charles Dickens tale “A Christmas Carol.”
Since it was published on Dec. 19, 1843, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been an unforgettable one, but before you rummage through your book-shelves to find your copy, it’d be beneficial to read this review because Robert Zemeckis’ re-telling of the classic tale “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” opens today for the first time in “Digital 3D.” This results in a film that is both visually stunning and excellently voice-acted.
Summarizing a plot that has been imprinted into the minds of many is pointless, so I’ll instead focus on the visuals. Using the mix of live-action and animation, Zemeckis crafted a beautiful world in the spirit of Dickens. Characters look organic and the environments for the most part are rich in detail. Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas, and other characters are instantly recognizable and fit the novel’s description to perfection.
However there are problems in the visual department, some scenes are too dark and this is because of the 3D gimmick; the mix of the dark lens of the 3D glasses that most theaters supply and the already dark surroundings on-screen create a dim-sighted image. Something to praise about the 3D aspect of the film is that director Zemeckis chose specific scenes that take full advantage of the technology and thus not every scene has an onslaught of objects flying towards you, this makes the extra-dimension (and extra money on a ticket) satisfying and not in-your-face.
Dialog is also worth praise and also criticism. I for one, enjoy the Victorian feel of the script and the fact that memorable lines from the book are put into the movie, but since “A Christmas Carol” is designed to be a film for both adults and children, it’s worth mentioning that some small children will not understand some dialect, but the chances of a first-grader picking apart the film’s plot are slim to none, and the on-screen action sequences are sure to please.
The voice-work, however, deserves nothing but acclaim. This is definitely Jim Carrey’s best performance since his role in “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.” He not only voices Scrooge through different aspects of his life, but also all of the ghosts of Christmas. All of them have their own personality and it is unrecognizable that they are all voiced by one actor.
Another honorable mention is Gary Oldman who also voices Bob Cratchit, Marley and Tiny Tim. Other cast members include Sage Ryan, Steve Valentine and Bob Hoskins, who provide their talents in minor roles.
Robert Zemeckis’ “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” is fun for both adults and children, but it is not perfect. There are definite flaws but these are scattered around and thus are not damning. There are some aspects that the children will not understand (Though this may spark conversation on Victorian-era workhouses) and there are some scenes are can either enchant screams of “this is cool” or screams of absolute terror, but that depends on the child. However, Zemeckis’ retelling of the classic story is a fairly entertaining family film that is sure to encourage some Holiday spirit.
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I really dug this flick. It’s not perfect, but I’d rank it well at the top of the Zemeckis mo-cap experiment pile.
It could have used more emotional exploration and depth in its flashback/flashforward scenes, but the film is still well worth seeing. I don’t expect families to have much love for it though.
I am a pretty big fan of Jim Carrey. I am actually looking forward to seeing this.
I want to see it, definitely. I was a fan of “The Polar Express” but didn’t care for “Beowulf.” I guess this one will be the tie-breaker.