"Disney's A Christmas Carol" Movie Review
My favorite film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim. Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and adapted by Noel Langley, the movie captured the dark yet whimsical tone of Dickens’ classic.
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol,” the new animated film from writer-director Robert Zemeckis, tried to reinvigorate one of the greatest Christmas stories ever told. Though Zemeckis failed to find the right balance between the dark and the whimsical, I still applaud the movie for being faithful to Dickens’ work.
The film is very faithful indeed, that some of the images may terrify little children. Let’s face it, Dickens’ 1843 novella was intended for adults. So Walt Disney Pictures is in a quandary. They are marketing an animated film to children that will ultimately scare them.
We all know the story by now. An old, bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge (voiced by Jim Carrey), finds redemption when he is visited by ghosts on Christmas Eve. Carrey also voices Scrooge at various ages, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Christmas Yet to Come.
The Ghost of Christmas Past appears in a form of a flickering flame which is a fitting representation of what Dickens described as a “bright, clear jet of light.” The Ghost takes Scrooge on a journey back in time, revisiting moments in his past. We see Scrooge as a bright-eyed apprentice of Fezziwig (Bob Hoskins), as a man in love with Belle (Robin Wright Penn), and the caring brother of Fan (also voiced by Penn).
The most entertaining of Scrooge’s spectral visits is the Ghost of Christmas Present. He’s a merry giant who presents himself atop a Christmas tree decked out in robes and shows Scrooge what his life is really like in the present. Underneath his robes are two scary looking kids named Ignorance and Want.
The chapter that will terrify small children feature the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. He is Death incarnate and takes Scrooge into his horrible future. There’s a scary scene where Scrooge is being chased by a carriage pulled by black horses with red, beady eyes.
Zemeckis has nearly perfected the performance-capture animation technology he utilized in 2004’s “The Polar Express” and 2007’s “Beowulf.” The cinematography of the film is excellent; it’s like a travelogue to Ye Olde England of the 1800s in full Disney Digital 3D. There are also many flying scenes to entertain the young audiences.
Carrey’s performance as Scrooge is credible, but I get the sense that the actor is more at home with the Ghosts characters. Gary Oldman as Cratchit, Scrooge’s assistant, steals the show. Oldman also voices Marley, Scrooge’s partner, and Tiny Tim, Cratchit’s sick boy.
My main complaint is Scrooge’s characterization. He wasn’t presented nearly as evil as the film hoped for. Sure, Scrooge wishes for poor people to die, but then the next scene shows him getting his comeuppance.
Also, Scrooge’s transformation towards the end wasn’t as joyful as I remember other “Christmas Carol” adaptations. But I did like the surprise narrator in the end, and Zemeckis still captures the spirit of Christmas.
I also enjoyed Zemeckis’ take on the Ghosts. By using Carrey to voice the phantom visitors, this film version questions whether the Ghosts are merely extensions of Scrooge himself.
And for that, “Disney’s A Christmas Carol” gets 3 Bah Humbug kisses
Country: United States
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