11.03.2009

Disney's A Christmas Carol : 3 of 5

It's nice to start getting into a Christmas mood with holiday movies, and I was able to see this new version of the Dickens classic at a sneak preview, thanks to my pal Melinda who is always lucky with preview passes! My opinion of this movie is right down the middle - there are things I love about it, and things I hate, which puts my review solidly in the center of my rating scale. I guess I'll get the hate out of the way - I am really against motion capture CG animation and Robert Zemeckis' bizarre opinions about the future of filmmaking! Although the characters in this film look much better than they did in The Polar Express, they still constantly look cross-eyed, with no attention to eye lines (they always seem to be looking "through" things), and might as well have been marionettes in most cases. Scrooge himself looks fantastic - I think they spent all their time getting him right and just let the computer crank out everyone else with no refinement. I was also appalled at Zemeckis' showboating floating camera moves, which only please himself and drive the audience crazy like they are stuck in a video game. Besides the opening sequence (which includes goofy moves like flying through a wreath), there's one sequence with the Ghost of Christmas Past that goes nearly 15 minutes without a single cut. I don't care if he thinks it's cool - it can only be special if it's hard to do in real life, so doing it in CG is just annoying. But now for some good points! I was really pleased and surprised that they stuck to all the original Dickens dialogue (most of the time I knew the line before they even said it), which prevented Jim Carrey (whom I dislike terribly) from ad-libbing and cheapening the whole thing. As I mentioned before, Scrooge does look incredible, and his exaggerated character design is great. I also liked all of the spirits, especially the creepy way that the Ghost of Christmas Future was mostly shown as a living shadow. The final scenes of the movie when Scrooge is filled with glee on Christmas Day are really well done, with just enough happiness to kick off the Christmas spirit in anyone. Overall I enjoyed myself, but mostly because I love Christmas movies and this classic story, not because of any of the filmmaking techniques that were being paraded on the screen. I only hope that audiences will enjoy the Christmas message while realizing that films using this technique have simply got to go!

1 comment:

  1. Jim Carrey is full of surprises and the entire movie is a theatrical outburst of his talent, under the brilliant direction of Robert Zemeckis. Brilliant because it manages to make take the Dickens story and walk us through all its dimensions, without fear of sadness and, in the same time, he has the cold blood to use the magic wand for a happy end. I wasn't a big 3D fan until this movie, maybe because I didn't see any possibility to enrich the classical format, perfect as it became with the years... 'A Christmas Carol' gains a lot from 3D being a sensorial experience enhanced by IMAX technology.

    All in all, it's not a story for kids, because it's rather disturbing and contemplative. Gary Oldman's pointing finger will stay with you for a while... It's an enchanting story and I encourage you to go and see it.

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