A Christmas Carol Review (4.5 of 5)

A-Christmas-Carol-Movie-Poster-693x1024There have been a few good versions of A Christmas Carol over the years. Robert Zemeckis’ take on the Charles Dickens classic  is one of the best adaptations. Visually, the movie is an artistic masterpiece. Zemeckis’ seemed to be flaunting this in the opening  moments of the film, with everything from a one-shot swooping camera moving over and around the city and through the crowded streets to intense close-ups of the protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge.

 

This style of computer animation (the image-capture method), has come an extremely long way since Zemeckis’ first attempt at this in The Polar Express. The characters’ expressions in that one seemed lifeless and just weird.

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Zemeckis, the man responsible…

Here you can really see the actors’ performances show through their animated avatars. You could also see the visages of the actors  on the characters that they played in some cases. Jim Carrey’s likeness is imbued onto Ebeneezer Scrooge and a lot of his mannerisms were also noticeable.

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I recognized some other actors immediately, who I did not know were in the film. Bob Hoskins and Colin Firth were easy to spot and Oldman’s Crachit, although having a different body type , was a spot on caricature of him. Like several other actors in the film, Carrey and Oldman both played several other characters in the movie that they were a bit more disguised as.

christmascarol1There were some comments by critics that have said the film ‘lacked in spirit’, but I would completely disagree. I think a lot of the performances such as Carrey’s were deliberately  understated. I went into the movie thinking Carrey’s voice work was a little shakey, but just a few lines into it, I no longer had any reservations. He’s really a good actor, and fit right into a really great cast that included the aforementioned Oldman, Firth and Hoskins, along with Robin Penn-Wright and Cary Elwes who played 5 characters.

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This form of animation is still a work in progress, but I don’t think the old arguments against it, resound so loudly, anymore. Sure there are some problems that haven’t quite been ‘fixed’ yet, such as when characters simply hop off of the floor. There were a couple of parts that reminded me of the same problem in another recent movie ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ when they had a Wild Thing leap. It just didn’t look natural. That seems to be more of a lack of understanding of physics and gravity on the animators’ parts, though. When they simply can show characters and objects flying around at high speeds; they excel.

ChristmasI don’t think that this style of animation will ever take the place of real actors.  You still need  someone to bring a character from script to ‘life’, but I wonder (somewhere far down the line) in the future,  if the top actors are not animators, also. Sounds a little silly now, but it seems to make logical sense to me as CGI becomes more and more convincing.

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I don’t think that I need to go too far in detail about the story. Scrooge is a descriptive term in most everyone’s lexicon. The story of the antisocial miser being visited by three Spirits on Christmas Eve to force him to reflect upon his life is a well known morality play and a good one. It’s timeless and it would be difficult for anyone to go wrong with the material that Dickens’ provided. The cast and crew don’t ‘drop the ball’. I though there was a  weight to the acting and emotional resonance even if I have seen many versions of the same story.

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There were enough things added without altering the story that made the movie not completely unsurprising even to those who know the story. There were many little details and moments such as the Spirit of Christmas Past’s ‘head bobs’ that kept it entertaining even in the most sombre, serious scenes. One moment that I enjoyed in particular was when Oldman’s Bob Crachit and Scrooge pause on a staircase. Scrooge himself takes more punishment than in any other version of this story and there are surprises also in the relationships between he and the 3 Spirits.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this movie for a myriad of reasons. Being an artist I appreciate the work that was done here. The story is one of my favorites and it’s one of those that I can watch year after year without tiring of it. I also like the fact that they DIDN’T update /dumb this down with ‘modern’ dialogue and pop culture references. Updates of old material can sometimes succeed  or fail in  grand fashion. ‘Cutting edge’ remakes usually means characters that talk like rappers or surfers and me personally, I can’t stand that when the setting is in another era like the 1840s.

christmascarolScenery

This will probably one I see again, especially when it gets closer to the actual Holiday. It’s also one that I will probably buy for the DVD library. It’s the proverbial ‘visual feast’ and a masterful effort of retelling a classic tale.  I give this one 4.5 out of 5 whatevers.

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Not a whole lotta’ humbug… It’s a good movie.

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4 Responses to “A Christmas Carol Review (4.5 of 5)”

  1. Crash! Landen Says:

    Thanks!

  2. Excellent stuff.

  3. Crash! Landen Says:

    Thanks, Caz. Your review of ‘A Christmas Carol’ was pretty in depth, also.

  4. I really enjoyed your review, and how indepth you went towards the type of animation.

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