on June 21, 2010
As another reviewer stated I also consider myself a Christmas Carol afficionado. I read the book each season and watch every version I own, which is substantial. I find it to be quite faithful to the book exept for the few instances he mentions. Yet, the film does contain other minor details such as the fact that Scrooge was suffering a cold at the time. However, they do not ruin the movie for me at all. Can I do without them? Yes, I can but they do not in any way detract from a wonderful movie that stays very close story-wise and dialogue-wise.
This movie is absolutely gorgeous to view. I can not wait to get this on Blu-Ray. It completely captured the feel of an 1800's England Christmas. I found the ghosts to all be unsettling and as my wife said "That was actually scary!" It may not be for kids to be honest. And I think that was the point - this wasn't originally written for children, it is a Christmas ghost story which was a very popular thing to do at the holiday times then. The ghosts weren't there to be nice and helpful, they were in Scrooge's life to matter-of-factly show him how he screwed up. I never got the feeling in any CC media that the ghosts truly cared for Scrooge's well-being.
Anyways, this is now an annual staple for my holiday traditions. P.S., I never really cared for Jim Carrey either.
on December 7, 2010
I was expecting to dislike this film. The trailers for it made it seem like sugar-coated ephemera with little relation to Charles Dickens' original novella. Thankfully, the publicity was misleading. Dickens' subtitle for his tale was "A Ghost Story." And indeed he filled his prose with deliciously grotesque descriptions of London's dark alleyways (think Jack the Ripper's Whitechapel), a brooding sense that Scrooge has long been due his comeuppance, and, of course, the ghosts themselves. This film doesn't shy away from these darker elements of the story and perhaps comes closer than any other version to capturing its suspense. (The one exception is the classic 1951 Scrooge, directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Alistair Sim, with its atmospheric black-and-white cinematography.) On one hand, this is a plus for fans of the book. On the other hand, as with 2007's Bridge to Terabithia, parents unfamiliar with the source material may be misled into thinking the film is lighter than it actually is, resulting in much disgruntlement. I fall into the former category and was able to relish the film as a genuine ghost story. Unfortunately, I found the film's stylistic and cinematic finesse often came at the expense of narrative depth.
The title sequence displays Zemeckis' eye for detail. He quite effectively evokes the Dickensian London: dirty, mean, teeming with life and social inequity. This is no idealized, picturesque Christmas town, but a city in the midst of an Industrial Revolution. Once the dialogue ensued, I was pleased to see the script was not watered-down for younger viewers, but borrows liberal chunks of Dickens' prose. Nuances in the text left out of other versions are presented here. We also see, for instance, Bob Cratchit "[go] down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys... in honour of its being Christmas Eve" and how "the fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway of [Scrooge's] house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold."
The performance capture cinematography itself can be quite stunning. Zemeckis' intention seems to have been to bring to life the classic illustrations of John Leech and Arthur Rackham as opposed to straight realism. The result is somewhat uneven. While some of the character designs seem strikingly realistic, others (like Scrooge himself) are exaggerated caricatures. It takes some time to adjust to this half-realistic, half-illustration approach. Jim Carrey's performance (as Scrooge and all three ghosts) is impressive in its range and ability to convey subtext. At points I feel he's let down by his age (or lack of it) when his voice doesn't quite convey the gravitas of years of loneliness. At other points, elements of his shtick poke through in Scrooge's face and mannerism. Although such moments break up the heaviness of much of the film, it sometimes seems anachronistic. Overall, however, he lends genuine depth and pathos to Scrooge and mirth with a slight undertone of grim seriousness to the Ghost of Christmas Present.
One misstep in the design is Jacob Marley's Ghost, which I found more hokey than frightening. Gary Oldman's voice performance is certainly no patch on the hair-raising portrayals of Michael Hordern (1951) or Frank Finlay (opposite George C. Scott in the brilliant 1984 television version). But the three Spirits of Christmas are imaginatively done. This may just be the first time the Ghost of Christmas Past has been depicted as Dickens described him, dunce cap and all. The Ghost of Christmas Present's aging is quite effective, evoking elements of symbolism lacking in other versions. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come gets an interesting treatment, emerging out of Scrooge's own shadow. Also of special note is the musical score by Alan Silvestri which incorporates traditional Christmas carols at key moments. At points, the music can be a little overwrought, insisting too emphatically that the audience notice aspects of the unfolding drama that might be better accompanied by silence, but generally Silvestri alternates between festive buoyancy and ghostly suspense quite effectively.
All that said, the film unfortunately wastes a lot of time on gratuitous scenes that do nothing to advance Dickens' story and exist solely to justify the 3D experience for moviegoers. I wouldn't have a problem with this (the scenes are thrilling enough on my moderately large HDTV; I can imagine they'd be amazing on the big screen in 3D), except that these scenes often come at the expense of narrative. As faithful as the screenplay is in places, a lot of good material is sacrificed for scenes in which Scrooge is flying, falling, or fleeing for no apparent reason. The most conspicuous is one other reviewers have mentioned: a large chunk of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come sequence is devoted to a scene in which Scrooge is chased by a black hearse. On one hand, this underscores the fact that Scrooge does not have many Christmases left. On the other hand, the scene was several minutes long and wastes valuable time that could have been spent on a touching moment from the book in which Bob Cratchit mentions having met Scrooge's nephew Fred at Tiny Tim's grave site. The result? The characterization loses out much of the time to the visuals. The scenes depicting Ebenezer's past and fall into his present miserly loneliness and those featuring the Cratchit family at home, for instance, feel much less developed than in other versions. Tiny Tim himself, the subject of much anxiety and affection in the original novella, gets almost no treatment here at all beyond his obligatory "God bless us, everyone."
This lack of characterization is what prevents this version and Carrey's Scrooge, impressive and insightful as it is, from becoming as iconic as Sim or Scott or Patrick Stewart in his one-man audio version or even Michael Caine in the surprisingly faithful Muppet version. With all the attention paid to the stunning 3D effects, Carrey's Scrooge doesn't get the opportunity to be fleshed out into all of its three dimensions. Less time devoted to scenes extraneous to the action and more devoted to the preliminary damning and ultimate reclamation of his soul (the terms in which Dickens described this story), and we could had something more substantial. It's definitely not a lost opportunity. What's here is engaging and often gripping, but I didn't get the sense of catharsis I had with more dialogue-driven (as opposed to visual-driven) versions of the work. If Amazon would let me, I'd rate it 3.5 stars.
on July 6, 2010
I couldn't disagree more with those who have given this a low rating. I saw this movie in the theater, in 3D and thought it was one of the better movies of the holiday season. Although I couldn't quite understand why it was released so early, it should have been more of a Christmas time release instead of Thanksgiving. As far as the film itself I thought it was a good update on a classic story. While I don't consider myself an aficionado, I do know the story well and found it stayed true enough to it. The warmth and humanity of the characters is definitely still present. Then of course there is the 3D aspect, which completely blew me away. I've seen most of the 3D releases in the last year or so, and with the exception of Avatar this movie did the best job of utilizing it. Actually, I am more excited about this movie being released in 3D than any other movie, including Avatar. I'm just happy you'll be able to buy this movie alone and not bundled along with a TV. Hopefully this is the start of 3D Blu Ray movies be released minus the bundle. And I know Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is currently available but it's no where as good as this movie is.
on December 9, 2009
I came with an open mind. This, after all was the story my father had told us children, when we were snuggled up warm in our beds. He would plant a dining room chair in the hallway. And from memory he recited "the story of Scrooge." It was a little frightening, to be lying there in darkness, a bit of light streaming in from the hallway, as your father's voice suddenly turned all funny. He became, in turn, three spirits - voices different from Scrooge's own.
Dad did that each Christmas eve. Until we grew "too old for that," as he explained one year while putting his shaving soap on the tree, after putting up all the decorations, including the battered angel - the one my Mom got, that first Christmas in 1936 when Dad planted his first kiss on her lips, as they danced (he said) to English band leader Ray Noble's THE TOUCH OF YOUR LIPS.
Pardon my reverie . . . I just wanted to establish my credentials, for saying . . .
This is not merely the best version of my favorite story (Dad would tell you that; if he were alive this would be his 92nd Christmas). No, no. This is the most amazing "movie experience" that I have ever known. I cannot imagine how any film maker(s) could ever top this.
They had me hooked from the opening. The camera shows a beautifully bound copy of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. An invisible hand opens to the first page and those very words my own father composed . . .
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good . . . for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
We see a corpse, its eyes held shut with pennies. Scrooge himself removes them from the eyes, at the end of the scene saying, without shame to the undertakers, while rubbing the coins together between thumb and finger, "Tuppence is tuppence!" The subtle change in the undertaker's face -- so subtle you might miss it in the half light of the almost dark room -- is one of dismay at seeing someone THAT cheap. The facial expression borders on horror.
Out in the street, children stop playing and dogs duck into alleys at Mr. Scrooge's approach, on his way to his place of business, with its gilt-lettered sign, "Scrooge & Marley Co." That will also be the closing scene of the movie, with Scrooge seen through frosty windows to be dancing with sheer, child-like joy, while outside, Bob Cratchit, for the very first time, turns to the `camera' and addresses us:
(Those very words my father composed out of thin air, Christmas 1949!)
"Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew [and] ever afterwards, it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!"
I could share with you a hundred little details (the sort of details that otherwise concern "God and the Devil"). But "Let there be light!" sums up the effect on your eyes, as we see clearly despite only the very faintest light sources: and that is what sets this movie apart from any other ever made.
You're not conscious of it at first. Then it dawns on you. An entire scene has been done in the light of a distant street lamp. The lamp (never seen) is about 50 feet to your left. Your eyes are drawn to the wrought iron fence outside Scrooge's rather magnificent home. The camera goes in tight, and the texture of the wrought iron - you know the tiny little waves made by a ball peine hammer on the surface of the metal when it was forged . . . the light from that unseen street lamp, 50 feet distant, is just enough for you to see a glint of yellow on the shiny black metal finish.
This `cinematography' - working at light levels so low, they could never be captured by a digital `film' camera - is repeated in scene after scene. It makes the sunshine on Scrooge's face, and on Tiny Tim, held aloft on Scrooge's shoulder at movie's end so . . . welcome! Light has been used (finally!) to underline Scrooge's utter, endless joy (your own too).
I don't know if you, like me, will sit there, tears of joy streaming down your face, watching the closing credits. Only three other people were left in the theatre as the scroll of credits reached its end. (I watched this one with my mentally-handicapped friend "Michael" - please see our review of the last `best' Christmas movie "POLAR EXPRESS").
A couple and their 14 year old son sitting just ahead of us, delayed their departure, putting on their coats, discreetly so as not to block the view of the only two persons left watching intently. As if to explain my tear-stained face, I said to the woman (an investment counselor as it turns out): "I have to see who wrote that stirring `carol' --- a (mainly) men's choir led by a truly great tenor. Sure enough, the music was written by the last great film score composer, Alan Silvestri. He co-wrote all those wondrous songs like "When Christmas Comes to Town" for Polar Express; all the great incidental music for "Forrest Gump" too!
The couple's son explained how the 3-D glasses work. Oh yes. His mother had opened our conversation saying, "I actually caught one of those snowflakes" (felt it in her hand). Her son said (not convincingly to his Dad) "the snow looks (better) the closer you are to the screen." Together, they noticed that my friend Michael was still wearing his 3-D glasses, while sipping the last of his diet coke.
"Michael," I said, "is from a L'Arche home," waiting to see if the term `registered.' "That's for mentally-handicapped," volunteered Michael. Oh yes, and Michael agreed with me when I said, "that's the best movie I have ever seen."
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
on November 7, 2009
The story of "A Christmas Carol" and its themes haven't been fresh in people's minds for well over 100 years, which is why the new film adaptation by Robert Zemeckis is so surprising. This is, from my perspective, the definitive version - a sumptuous visual feast that in no way compromises the drama, excitement, and hope of the Charles Dickens classic. Its greatest achievement is not reducing itself to the level of jolly Christmas clichés. The streets and buildings of nineteenth-century London are brightly coated with snow, yet they betray the cold reality of poverty and despair. And Ebenezer Scrooge, having been played by many, many actors over the years, finally looks like the ancient, decrepit, bitter man I always imagined him to be; his face doesn't show the slightest trace of warmth, humor, or charm.
The film's success can be attributed to Zemeckis' love affair with special effects, which in this case involves the same motion capture technology he employed in "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf." This allows for the creation of characters caught in that delightful gray zone between real and unreal. Some are more exaggerated than others; Scrooge - a little too tall, a little too thin, a little too hunched over - is a menacing physical representation of his own anger and resentment. The Ghost of Christmas Past, an elfin wraith with a breathy voice and a head made of fire, is as slight, slender, and soft-spoken as a candle. The Ghost of Christmas Present is a loud and jovial Father Christmas figure, whose laugh is just as big as his body, perhaps bigger. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a silent yet frightening skeletal phantom made out of shadows.
Scrooge and the Ghosts are all played by Jim Carrey, which hardly comes as a shock since he has an affinity for variety of character and over the top performances. Other actors include Gary Oldman as Bob Crachit, Tiny Tim, and Jacob Marley, whose postmortem appearance in Scrooge's bedchamber is intensely creepy, just as it should be. Robin Wright Penn plays both Scrooge's younger sister, Fen, and his neglected fiancée, Belle. Bob Hoskins plays old Fezziwig, a man so thoroughly in the Christmas spirit that he and his wife defy gravity as they dance. Colin Firth plays Scrooge's hopelessly optimistic nephew Fred, quite possibly the only person who thinks his uncle is worth addressing in a friendly manner.
As Scrooge is taken on his journey of redemption, both he and the audience are treated to fantastic aerial tours of London, with shots that swoop and soar over rooftops, through windows, and around street corners. 3-D technology, normally so unimpressive, is here perfectly utilized, allowing for one of the most immersive environments of any recent animated film. One of the most stunning sequences involves a spectral carriage chasing a shrunken Scrooge up and down dark, snowy cobblestone streets; it's not only an astounding visual achievement, it's also an exhilarating thrill ride. Harkening back to the roller coaster train sequences created for "The Polar Express," Zemeckis proves that you should stick with what works best.
There are also some equally effective quiet moments, such as the opening shot, which pays homage to classic Disney animated films with the opening of a book. Other moments are surprisingly powerful, as when a grieving Bob Cratchit, his eyes red with tears, seems to be staring directly at Scrooge even though he can't really see him (Cratchit, in that moment, is nothing more than a vision of the future). I also appreciated the shot of doomed ghosts floating just outside Scrooge's window; some of them act humorously, banging their heads against their chain boxes, and yet we can't help but feel sorry for them.
The entire film embodies a darker, shivery tone - not to the point of becoming a computer-animated horror film, but certainly beyond the colorful whimsy of the average Christmas special. This, I believe, truly captures the tone of Dickens' original story, which doesn't spare the reader the hardships of destitution, disease, and loss. Consider Bob Cratchit's family; they do make merry of themselves on Christmas Day, but they also live a meager existence, and there's always the sense that, should nothing about their situation change, they could end up with even less.
Robert Zemeckis created a perennial holiday classic with "The Polar Express," and I think he may have done it again with "A Christmas Carol." Yes, we have seen this movie before, and yes, its message is far from original. But there's no denying the fact that it's sending a good message, where love, compassion, and the possibility of hope reign supreme. There's also no denying that, with visuals this striking, it practically begs to be seen, especially in 3-D. This is one of the year's best looking animated films, so richly detailed, so sharply defined, so gloriously shot. It creates a mood, effectively evoking feelings of warmth and tenderness without becoming sappy or mindlessly cheerful. That above all made seeing this film an absolutely beautiful experience, one that I recommend to everybody.
on December 26, 2013
There are a number of sequences in this version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL that owe everything to Disney and naught to Dickens. These scenes occur most especially during the meeting with the Ghost of Christmas Future wherein Scrooge turns into the Incredible Shrinking Man for no apparent reason and thereby becomes, for all intents and purposes, nothing but a cartoon character. The way too-long chase by the ghostly coach and demonic horses is another excessive instance, reminiscent of Disney's Headless Horseman chasing Ichabod Crane. Another underwhelming because it is too overwhelming moment is where Scrooge rides the cone of the Ghost of Christmas Past like a rocket to the moon. These scenes come near to destroying the meaning and the message of Dickens' "Ghost Story of Christmas." Near - but thankfully not near enough.
Of course, the reason for these Disneyisms is clear: the makers of this version need to keep the attention of child viewers alert and action-happy. If I'd previewed these moments only I would have bet the entire movie was nothing but idiotic action. Gladly it is NOT - and what remains is something quite fine and mostly faithful to its source material.
This is a very artistic film, rich in period detail, by turns intimate (such as the scenes spent with the Cratchit family) and panoramic (as in the flights through the streets of London and through Time and Space). It is absolutely incredible how vocal and bodily performances by actual actors can be transmuted by the magic of computers into, well, a living cartoon without its actually being a cartoon. The idea of motion capture goes back to Max Fleischer who patented the idea of the Rotoscope in order to simplify the process of animating movement by tracing frames of live action film. Fleischer utilized this process in the SUPERMAN cartoons of the early forties - and in the full-length cartoon of GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. Technology has since then made a quantum leap with computerized motion capture - and the results are awesome and evocative.
This is an age of excess and over-the-topness in current films. Like kids playing with new toys, many of our filmmakers don't know when to stop with the thrills of computer wizardry. This movie literally dies when it is trying too-hard to be most lively. Luckily, one can be an editor by way of fast forwarding through the inanities! Also luckily, the pluses of Disney's A CHRISTMAS CAROL outweigh the negatives. This is a version of the classic tale that the entire family can enjoy. The Ghosts are, yes, scary - but by keeping so much of the original dialog and main themes of the original novel this is a version that can be both entertaining and educational to anyone - children of all ages! - not familiar with Dickens' actual tale. Recommended - if only to see Scrooge take the coins off the dead Marley's eyes lest they be sealed in the coffin and thereby wasted according to Scrooge's rapacious worldview.
Merry Day-after-Christmas - and God Bless Us, everyone!
on September 24, 2010
I'm not a fan of holiday films and I only like some of them. When I saw A Christmas Carol last year I thought it was the best holiday film ever (alongside with It's a Wonderful Life). With fantastic scenaries and great motion-capture technology, Robert Zemeckis made a classic Christmas movie. Of course Jim Carrey is great in his triple role as is Gary Oldman, Robin Wright Penn and Colin Firth. The atmosphere is dark and cheerful at the same time and every single scene adds to the picture.
A Christmas Carol is a great film with a great story and heart. This combo pack is the best way to see it both in HD and SD and to not pay more for a 3d bluray (which I can't use it, and don't care about it) and a digital copy (waste). Just buy it and you will have a great Christmas this year.
on December 11, 2010
Because I'm a techno-geek, I went to the "Behind the Scenes" parts before I ever watched the movie. While the creators patted themselves on the back about how faithful they were to the spirit (pun intended, I'm sure) of how Dickens probably visualized the movie, I had to see for myself, of course.
Then I watched the movie. All of my comments are based on what I have always felt about this classic.
* A very good Scrooge. Jim Carrey's Scrooge is the Scrooge of my imagination, from my childhood. This is one time I have to agree with the creators of the film. This was the perfect Scrooge.
* A very good Tiny Tim. Ditto for everything I said about Scrooge, this was the perfect Tiny Tim.
* The doorknocker. FINALLY! One that's true to the book!
* Jacob Marley rocked. The best, ever. Dickens described the ghost of Marley as having an "atmosphere" about him and this movie displayed that. This was great.
* A very good Ghost of Christmas Past. While this is quite different from what I had always pictured, I liked the interpretation.
* I'm in my late 50s and have been reading this book every year since I was a child (raised my children on that tradition), and have been disappointed with most movie characterizations of these main characters. If it took "motion capture" to get there, then that's okay. It works.
* The scenery was stellar.
* I have a blu-ray, so really enjoy the increased resolution. As expected, excellent Disney attention to detail.
The not so good:
* Miniaturizing Scrooge. Really? Couldn't get past the silliness factor of that idea, especially since there seemed no plausible reason as to why it was necessary in the telling of the story. How in the world was *that* true to what Dickens meant?
* The whole 3D thing was, in my opinion, somewhat overdone. There are a lot of great parts that I feel were left out in favor of the 3D experiences which had nothing to do with the book.
* The Ghost of Christmas Future had this whole Darth Vader-ish mojo going when they finally did a closeup of his face.
* Considering the amount of detail and work put into the movie overall, I was surprised that the ending was so truncated. Not *disappointed* because it was more accurate than Scrooge running around the floor with a rat (this *is* Disney, after all), but surprised.
* Little details of the book that somehow got either dropped or not fleshed out the way that I expected from a version that was supposed to be "very true to the spirit" of the book.
* Only one person in Old Joe's
* Fred's party
* Only one of the fund-raisers met with Scrooge after his experience
* Bob Cratchit speaking of meeting Scrooge's nephew after Tiny Tim's death
and a few others...
* The hearse up the stairs.
* Scrooge's praises of Fezziwig
* The complete breakup of Scrooge & Belle
* Belle's family scene
There were several others, but these few scenes were very key to the telling of the story, and I feel that they were eliminated because of the 3D action gimmickry parts.
Overall, I felt that it was a very good interpretation of the book. It may be a little scary for youngsters, but it *is,* after all, a Ghost story. I found myself getting quite impatient with many of the parts made to emphasize the 3D effects (flying through the air over roofs and chimneys, getting stuck in the curtain rings, riding an icicle, etc.) because I felt that *some point* it detracted more than added to the quality of the movie. I don't have a 3D tv yet, but I can see where it would be fun to watch. No, I didn't see the movie in the theaters.
I would definitely recommend the movie. I can see it becoming a family tradition, especially if there are young children around. I bought it to show to my grandchildren for the holidays for years to come. Too bad there's not a version for adults.
This animated adaptation of Charles Dickens', "A Christmas Carol," could well become the classic film version to 21st century kids as the Alistair Sims "Scrooge" became in the 1950s. The animation is so 19th century authentic that it actually is continually illustrating the Victorian classic book. It is true to the Dickens words and spirit. From the beginning it is a visual-experiencing of olde London. All that is missing is the smell of coal smoke and horse dung.
It is not just Jim Carrey (Scrooge, 3 ghosts, & more) and Gary Oldman (Cratchit, Marley, Tiny Tim) that so passionately do the unforgettable characters' voices. Colin Firth, a necessary for any top quality Victorian London story, as Ebenezer's nephew Fred's voice, is animated to look the most like himself.
Animated sets are thrilling and punctuated with moments like sliding down hilly iced-over cobblestone back streets, the coal soot patina on 1840s shops, and animated London fog looking more atmospheric than the real thing. Scrooge's bony fingers are as true-to-life as on an emaciated elderly man near death. Scrooge is himself a bit ghostly; like a more aged Lemony Snicket. And about as darkly evil.
____(Excuse the name dropping, but with any great film--it is bound to be compared to other accomplishments.) Like the aerial flight through time where Scrooge is hand-held by a ghost. It recalls images of Mary Martin in "Peter Pan."
The 2nd 'Scottish' Spirit's home was a Victorian Christmas visual masterpiece of delight; and the trip through Christmas Present, more like floating with "Mary Poppins." Spirit of the Future's trip adventure, however, depicted more peril than anything "Indiana Jones" ever encountered. Action! Misadventure! Fear!
This film is technically animated beyond "Polar Express." Characters' hair, snow & ice, and the Cratchit Christmas goose are all as aesthetically fine and real as any photography.
The only negative for this adaptation to Dickens' Christmas Spirits' story is the inability to push a "play" button on a remote for a second viewing. I can't wait for a DVD version (next year?). For now, it's back to the box office.
IT'S A CLASSIC-both book and film. Don't do this Christmas without seeing it. It's perfect for our economic times: the underlying theme that Christmas is about giving and family. Take your family (as long as the kids are beyond 2nd grade). Preschoolers and early-elementary age might be frightened. Remember the Dickens story is a bit on the dark side till the end.
Don't leave till after the credits. The song sung by Andrea Bocelli, "God Bless Us Everyone", (writers: Alan Silvestri, Glen Ballard) is at the end. It could/SHOULD be on this year's Top-10 Christmas Song list. Hear the words--they summarize the meaning of the story of Ebenezer.
Anyone know, is that song on a CD yet?
READ COMMENTS. A CD IS AVAILABLE BY BOCELLI WITH "GOD BLESS US EVERYONE".
on January 2, 2014
I've seen most of the Christmas Carol television and movie versions that exist, and I usually end up watching many of them every year at some point -- a Christmas tradition I suppose! I had heard mixed things about this one, but I decided to give it a shot.
My biggest issue was I had trouble feeling any "warmth" from the movie. The characters weren't fleshed out very well, with the exception of Scrooge. It almost seemed like the dialogue and story was rushed a bit so we could see Scrooge get chased around or fly through the air some more. Jim Carrey did an admirable job as the old miser, but I had trouble feeling any connection with anyone else. Scrooge's nephew Fred seemed a bit more like an old school televangelist regarding Christmas than someone who truly cared for his uncle, Bob Cratchit seems to get very little screen time compared to other versions, and the visual style of everything was a rather big hindrance to me.
Frankly, even though the technology has obviously improved since the Polar Express days, I actually think the character design for this motion capture stuff was a bit worse. Realistic with a strange caricature edge... The characters didn't always have the emotion in their faces that I think would have improved the scene. A few times it felt like an older video game cutscene to me. However, the scenery was another matter. Even though Zemeckis tried his hardest to milk the 3D for all it was worth and turn everything into a chase or flying scene, digital England looked very sharp.
My biggest issue though, was with the ghosts. First things first, Marley would have made me wet my pants if I was a little kid. Granted, I was a pretty easily startled child, but I know lots of children are. Fair warning: they will hate this movie if they don't like scary/sudden things. It was definitely one of the more intense Marley scenes around, and judging by the previews, I would not have guessed it was that dark in a movie seemingly targeted at families. Nevertheless, it was effective. I wouldn't have slept after that if I was Scrooge either.
The Ghost of Christmas Past was one of the most annoying and baffling takes on that character I've ever seen. I'm glad they included the cap in this version, but I would have used it a whole lot sooner on him. A combination of creepy, hard to understand, and just plain weird for the sake of weird.
The Ghost of Christmas Present was better, but why..did..he...have..to laugh... incessantly? It was so forced and annoying, but it was still a welcome change after the Ghost of Christmas Past. Once again things took a dark turn toward the end of his time, with the spirit's aging turning to the gruesome, and ignorance/want getting a little embellishment. But, I'm glad they kept the aging in there! It's an interesting part of the story to be sure.
The Ghost of Christmas Future was actually very creative and fresh. Other than the ridiculously long chase scene thrown in for no good reason, I enjoyed this part of the movie the most. Again, a bit creepy, but it's actually supposed to be. It was well done and eerie, without too many cheap "jumps".
All in all, it was alright. I'll stick to the George C. Scott version for a more serious and accurate tone, The Muppets for silly, Patrick Stewart for Patrick Stewart, and Albert Finney for the "artistic liberties" version of the Christmas Carol. All of those have heart and a good human element to them...something I found very much lacking in this one.