MovieMantz Review: ‘Disney’s A Christmas Carol’
First Published: November 5, 2009 4:51 PM EST Credit:
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- “The Taming of the Scrooge”
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol”Jim Carrey, Robin Wright Penn, Gary OldmanDirected by Robert Zemeckis
‘Tis the season to be jolly, right? Well, not to sound like a Scrooge or anything, but does the world really need another version of “A Christmas Carol?”
Check out the Internet Movie Database, which lists more than 50 versions done for both TV and film over the last hundred years. The Charles Dickens classic has been told so many times since it was first published in 1843 that it’s become embedded into our subconscious. So even if you never read the book, the odds are that you still know the story (and if you don’t, shame on you).
And it seems like everyone’s taken a shot at playing the ultimate party-pooper, from Yosemite Sam to Mister Magoo, from George C. Scott to Bill Murray. Now it’s Jim Carrey’s turn, which would have been noteworthy enough if it wasn’t for the fact that he’s also playing several other roles: the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
It’s all thanks to Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”), who once again utilizes the complex motion-capture technique that he first pioneered with 2004’s “The Polar Express.” But while the special effects in that film and its follow-up, 2007’s “Beowulf,” were visually stunning, the characters were often criticized for looking too lifeless to resonate on an emotional level.
Zemeckis appears to have solved that problem – especially in the eyes, which finally seem to sparkle with life – but the story (adapted by Zemeckis) sticks so close to the source material that it’s familiar to a fault. So despite all the bells, whistles and other 3-D gimmicks used to take moviegoers on a wild ride above 19th century London, in the end, it’s still the same old story.
And one has to wonder why Zemeckis bothered creating computer-generated characters that look just like the actors playing them. After all, nothing beats the real thing, especially where Jim Carrey’s rubberfaced antics are concerned. As for Colin Firth (who plays Scrooge’s nephew Fred), Gary Oldman (Bob Cratchit) and Robin Wright Penn (Scrooge’s lost love Belle), their performances would have had a stronger impact if they weren’t covered by special effects.
But even from a structural point of view, “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” is uneven and far too long. It starts off slow and intense, and it’s actually a lot scarier than some of the other kid-friendly versions (it is, after all, a ghost story). But it’s still visually exciting, especially after Scrooge’s encounter with the first ghost.
Zemeckis hasn’t directed a traditional live-action movie since “Cast Away” in 2000, and judging by his next project, the computer-generated remake of “Yellow Submarine” (which will bring him full-circle with The Beatles after directing 1978’s “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”), he’s not going to anytime soon. As for his version of the Dickens classic, it’s visually stunning and all, but this is one version of “A Christmas Carol” that the world can probably live without. Humbug!
Verdict: SKIP IT!
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