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A CHRISTMAS CAROL (2009)

>> Thursday, November 12, 2009

Jim Carrey plays the Grinch then Scrooge? What kind of shitty Christmas gifts did he get as a kid?

We are all familiar with this classic tale from Charles Dickens. And as of this adaptation, there are over two dozen versions of this movie, and this one is by far the best. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed nothing more than watching Mickey’s Christmas Carol almost every year since I was born. It is the version I am most familiar with, and it seems to be one of the more popular Christmas movies amongst the masses. But Robert Zemeckis teamed up with Jim Carrey to create what may be almost exactly what was in Dickens’ head when he wrote the story back in 1843. This is made obvious if one views original illustrations which accompanied the original story. If placed side by side, it would be hard to distinguish between the two.

This isn’t the first time Zemeckis has been faithful to the source material. The Polar Express was literally like a living version of the book, right down to the last shot of the movie. I will use the mention of that film as a nice segway into comparing the two.

The reason for this comparison is because I don’t believe there would be a better comparison for either now that both exist. Express was a beautifully done film, and unlike many that came before it. It came to us as a faithful adaptation from a children’s book. So much like Where the Wild Things Are, because Express was so well done, it stands out and is well on its way to becoming a classic Christmas film much like the animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life.

A Christmas Carol however, although memorable and no doubt part of most chirldren’s DVD/Blu-Ray collections by January 2011 (assuming it’s released December 2010), may not be as memorable as Express. The reason for this is twofold. The first being it will be lost amongst the large amounts of adaptations that have come before it, and the second being that it does lack that certain warm holiday feeling due to its sometimes scary visuals and old English dialogue – which can at times be hard to understand, as faithful as it may be to the original source material. That, and the audience who watches and re-watches Christmas films on a yearly basis is made up mostly of children, who will no doubt relate more to a preteen boy who has trouble believing in Santa Claus versus an elderly man who has lost his holiday ways.

That said though, this is undoubtedly one of the best 3-D films I’ve seen (Zemeckis is a master at making sure he uses this technology to his advantage). The film itself looks absolutely wonderful and photo-realism takes another step forward with the infinite amount of detail, to the point where you can actually see the fine hairs on Scrooge’s face. Jim Carrey’s performance as the classic Christmas-hater Ebenezer Scrooge is well done (as well as all the past, present and future ghosts), although at many points the role gets lost in the usual antics of Carrey, and it can become distracting. Gary Oldman however does wonderfully as Bob Cratchit, and in the usual order of motion capture or other animated films, features of all the actors faces can be seen in their cartoon counterparts.

This film overall is definitely one to see, 3-D or not, as there is almost nothing else coming out celebrating the holiday season, and I am all for the holidays. This is definitely something I don’t recommend for your usual G-rated audience, as it all can become quite scary and maybe is too mature for audiences under the age of 8 or so – as it should be though, and is one of the reasons it will stand out amongst the other Carols for years to come. The door is festively open on this one, so go through it if you don’t mind a gentle Christmas haunting, and another visually stunning masterpiece from Zemeckis.

*Stills courtesy of Disney

1 comments:

Editing Luke November 14, 2009 at 3:50 PM  

I'm about to see this film shortly, but my fav adaptations of the original story include Scrooged and A Muppet's Christmas Carol. Both create a unique spin with a modern day corporate executive and the quirkiness of Henson's workshop. What I love about the Christmas Carol story is that it's become so ingrained in Christmas culture that seeing multiple versions is just as fun as hearing numerous covers of your favorite holiday songs. I look forward to this one.

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