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Review: A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
11.05.2009
7 10

PLOT: A 3D animated retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic Victorian tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, who changes his miserly ways after being visited by a series of spirits on Christmas Eve.

REVIEW: I’m a sucker for Scrooge. I love this story, and I make it a point to check out each and every version of the story that comes out. Heck, I even went to see GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS’ PAST, which was loosely based on the tale, but the less said about that the better.

I’ve been looking forward to seeing this for a while, as Jim Carrey strikes me as an inspired choice to play Scrooge, although I wasn’t thrilled when I found out this would be another Robert Zemeckis CG performance capture film. I never bothered seeing THE POLAR EXPRESS, but I caught BEOWULF. I wasn’t all that impressed, and I’m not at all sold on this technology, which he claims is the next big thing in filmmaking.

Having seen A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I’m still not sold on the technology, although I liked this film. While it looked pretty nifty in IMAX 3D, that gimmick wore off after about ten minutes. As for the animation, Scrooge looked fantastic, but the other characters looked pretty bland, and they all suffered from the same “dead eye” look that’s plagued all of Zemeckis’ CG films.

What made me enjoy A CHRISTMAS CAROL was the fact that, despite having been filmed literally hundreds of times, the story still managed to suck me in. For the most part, Zemeckis and co., have stayed remarkably true to the original text, and the dialogue as not been dumbed down at all. Carrey’s an absolutely incredible Scrooge, boasting a fantastic and accurate sounding English accent. While Alistair Sim is still the greatest Scrooge, Carrey comes pretty close, and probably ranks alongside Michael Caine (from the underrated MUPPET’S CHRISTMAS CAROL) as my second favorite Scrooge (I’m not counting Bill Murray, as he didn’t technically play Scrooge in SCROOGED).

In addition to Scrooge, Carrey also plays the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, and is good in each role; although these give him a chance to be a little more Carrey-like than Scrooge himself, which he more or less plays straight.

Also impressive is Gary Oldman, who does triple duty as Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and even Tiny Tim. I was very moved by his Cratchit, and his Marley comes close to being definitive. As for Tim, to be honest, I had no idea it was Oldman until seeing the credits. Colin Firth pops up as Scrooge’s jolly nephew Fred, and is probably the one actor whose CG version bears the most resemblance to the way he actually looks. Robin Wright shows up as both Scrooge’s sister Fan, and his lost love Belle. She’s a wee bit over the top as Fan, but she makes a lovely Belle. Meanwhile, Bob Hoskins and Cary Elwes also pop up, albeit in heavily CGI’d versions.

Other than the animation, the only other thing that somewhat hindered my enjoyment of A CHRISTMAS CAROL was the surprisingly bland score by the normally solid Alan Silvestri, and a couple of unnecessary, slapstick interludes, which were probably thrown into to appeal to the numerous kids that’ll wind up seeing this surprisingly dark take on Dickens. Overall though, I was very impressed by this version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, although the 1951 Alistair Sim Scrooge remains the definitive version. Still, this is a damn solid take on the material, and not something you should say bah humbug to.

RATING: 7.5/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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