A Christmas Carol
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis Cast: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Running Time: 1 hr 36 mins Rating: PG Due Out: November 16, 2010
PLOT: Your standard holiday tale about miserly old Scrooge being visited by three ghosts on Christmas eve to help him change his selfish, stingy ways.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you weren't freaked out by the dead eyes in Polar Express, I'm pretty sure you can handle A Christmas Carol. Zemeckis returns to familiar, family friendly ground with this one. My only word of caution is for the little ones who might be freaked out by some of the ghosts, but otherwise, it's definite family fun.
A Christmas Carol is a story that most audiences, young and old alike, are familiar with by now. The story of Scrooge and all the ghosts have been told time and time again in different movies, so the question is; what makes Zemeckis's vision any different? Sadly, the answer is, not a whole lot. The characters are the same as just about every other version only this time around, they have those creepy lifeless eyes.
At the heart of the movie, that's the problem. I know countless other critics have railed on about the "uncanny valley" and the weird realism to the animated figures, but it isn't just that. Zemeckis clearly puts all his eggs in one basket with the animation. If you're not a fan of that, you're sorta out of luck. In fact, most of the movie seems to be a salute to the skill of the animators. Certainly I should give credit where credit is due, but when a majority of the movie is zooming around this animated wonderland, it becomes a bit overwhelming and the story becomes obviously secondary.
In the same realm, A Christmas Carol never seems to know what it wants to do with its animation. Portions of it are very grounded in the realsim and then every so often an obese woman will twirl up to the ceiling and hang there for half a minute. Okay, so that last one may have only happened once, but you get the point. It was difficult to get an idea of what they were going for when they trade out the dramatic nature of the story for a cheap CGI laugh, which brings me to my final point.
I may have been mistaken in this, but the ad campaign sold this as a family friendly comedy of sorts. Now, considering that I'm familiar with the source material, I was aware that there would be places where it gets grim, but good lord, nothing could have prepared me for this. It is entirely up to the parents to decide what a child watches, but I've gotta admit, even I was a little grossed out when Marley's jaw fell off or other moments of a similar nature. The movie tries to play them for a laugh, but it's just unusually morbid and out of place.
Still, if you're a fan of this animation style or a clear emphasis of spectacle over story, A Christmas Carol isn't half bad. It's hardly a new story, but Zemeckis packs it full of eye candy to keep the blu ray fanatics at bay. Truth be told, it's a mixed bag, but it's pretty enough if you're not looking for much else.
MOVIE SCORE: 6/10
Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling On Set with Sammi Deleted Scenes