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A Christmas Carol (2009)

November 14, 2015

A Christmas Carol (2009)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Actors: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth

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Synopsis: Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), a miserable curmudgeon, has his conscience pricked by ghostly visitations on the night of Christmas Eve.

Review: If you’ve seen Robert Zemeckis’ “landmark” motion capture, The Polar Express, then this is the “A Christmas Carol” version of that – undeniably spectacular, and at the very least, interesting, with its various technical features, but also extremely schmaltzy, unoriginal and Hollywoodised.

My first issue with this computerised version of A Christmas Carol is that it automatically loses something in becoming very homogenised (and, dare I say it, ‘Americanised’). The power of the story is in its very Victorian canvas of morality, poverty and charity, and though these themes are to some extent timeless and universal – hence the story’s unending relevance – distorting the story into a sanitised, Disneyesque vision, reduces its power and end-effect. For one thing, Alan Silvestri’s musical score feels far too familiar from other mainstream kids’ stories, and was it me or did some of the children almost speak in a quasi-American accent?!

Also, as with my other laments against the increasing obsession with ‘reality’ in animated movies, I find that motion capture technology almost adds a certain woodenness and unreality to proceedings (there’s a slow, distancing affect to the action, characterisations and strange computerised pans). Motion capture also begs the question – if the filmmakers are so obsessed with reality, why not simply create a live-action version of the story? Otherwise, be bold and envision a true, immersive, imaginary world rather than unintentionally drawing the viewer’s attention to the limitations of the technological canvas.

The only real success of Zemeckis’ vision is that there are some truly spectacular ride sequences, where Scrooge is escorted on his three ‘flights’ by the various Ghosts who visit him. As an interesting sidenote, for a film that is otherwise so wholesome and family-oriented, was it me, or were some of Scrooge’s interactions with the apparitions of Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, surprisingly dark, especially when Scrooge is cast into the open grave of his future destiny? It would be interesting to know what the evidently courted younger viewers felt about those scary séances…(November 2015)

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