Disney's A Christmas Carol Reviews
When retelling a story with depth, history and timeless appeal, written over 166 years ago and recreated over 80 times during this period, the question must be begged, what can I do to add or enhance the story? Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the future, Forrest Gump and Who framed Roger Rabbit) simple answer was; 3D.
Sadly, this latest incantation is no longer Charles Dickens' immortal tale A Christmas Carol; it's been digitally altered, dipped in wax and worst of all, Disney-fied.
Zemeckis' applies his pioneering computerized motion-capture technology creating characters from live action to his third consecutive picture (The Polar Express and Beowulf). Able to move freely the wax-worked, rubbery-faced, marionette characters are brought out of the screen in 3D. However, performing in undeniably jarring and scary sequences the horror picture style approach is simply too terrifying, intense and frightening for its target audience of children, whilst simultaneously being too diluted foradults.
Feared and loathed by everyone around him, the greedy cold-hearted curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) is so terrified of the idea of living a life of poverty that he doesn't think twice about snatching the coins off his shrewd dead business partner eyes before he is laid to rest.
Seven years later and Scrooge's distain for life expands to all facets. Refusing to be cordial to his jovial nephew (Colin Firth) who is nothing but a kind soul, to treating his clerk, Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) with complete contempt and barking at him like a dog, even believing that those poor who are dying in the streets of starvation will not go to the workhouses or who are not incarcerated should "hurry up and do it, and decrease the world's surplus population". Worst of all, he detests everything about Christmas.
After bidding a grouchy and begrudged farewell to Cratchit on a snowy December 24th, for his single day off a year, the lonely old miser returns to his vast but unfeeling home. Startled to be welcomed home by the spirit of his partner Marley, Scrooge is warned that his penny-pinching meanness has not gone unnoticed and in that same evening he will be privy to an eye-opening journey that may if embraced redeem his soul.
The ghosts' of Christmas' Past, Present and those Yet To Come take Scrooge reluctantly on a moral lesson to face the truth of his past years and glimpse his perspective lonely future, opening his heart to the true meaning of Christmas and finding it within himself to feel true goodwill for mankind before its too late.
The alarming faithfulness in terms of story and dialogue to Dickensian social commentary is to be applauded, with the inclusion of a number of previously ignored sequences like the allegorical representations of Ignorance and Want clutching onto the Spirit of Christmas Present and the minor interior movements only a book usually explores gives some substance to the excessive hyper-powered graphics style.
Sadly however, the third act which is the fuzzy, heartwarming time of revelations feels rushed and unmoving. All of the genuinely poignant and engrossing aspects of the story have been drained away. Replaced with Writer/director Robert Zemeckis usual rocket-powered chase scenes and weightlessly contrived comedy with such nonsense as Scrooge (Jim Carrey) being blasted into the stratosphere or dashing through the cobbled streets of London (a chase scene) while simultaneously turning into the incredible shrinking man.
The normally manic Carrey is surprisingly the subtlest aspect of the film, suppressing his usual show-off mannerisms his facial contortions and expressions have become an asset. The rest of the truly thespian cast is dreadfully squandered, lost under the cheesy guise of stretched, scrawny and elongated electronic avatars.
Released a full 7 weeks before Christmas, it simply exacerbates the idea that it was only developed to make money visibly bigger, glossier, broader and more desperate to make an impression than it needs to be. At least in 1992's The Muppet Christmas Carol version, Michael Caine's Bah, Humbug! nasty Ebenezer could sing.
The Verdict: Falling under the influence of the superfluous Harry Potter roller-coaster ride style of filming, this yuletide vision of hope, redemption and embracing the human spirit is too padded to revive its moral tale.
Published : The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication : 20.11.2009