Friday, 6 November 2009

A Christmas Carol: Movie Review

A Christmas Carol: Movie Review

Rating: 6/10
Cast: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Before I start I need to get two things out of the way. First this new adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is NOT a comedy, despite Jim Carrey's name above the title. And secondly this is NOT for young children; parents should note that the movie has some dark and scary moments.
Director Robert Zemeckis (The Polar Express and Beowulf) returns with more motion-capture animation, and while the film is stunning to look at, it is missing the key ingredient in Dickens' work - heart.
The tale is faithfully told - Carrey plays Ebenezer Scrooge, a money man who "bah humbugs" his way through Christmas. Gary Oldman plays his faithful, and put upon assistant Bob Cratchit while Colin Firth pops up as Scrooge's nephew. All the cast are made to look like "Dickensian" versions of themselves, with Carrey in particular given lean, menacing features.
But while Carrey is famed for his manic physical comedy, that is on limited display in A Christmas Carol. It seems strange to have a man used to extorting his body on screen to be hampered by animation.
The ghostly appearance of his old business partner Marley (Oldman's voice again) sets the dark tone for the movie - his pounding at the door and the sound, and sight, of his shackles are brilliantly realised.
He warns Scrooge of the error of his ways and that he will be visited by three ghosts of Christmas. And so Scrooge goes on his journey of self discovery to realise that life is worth living.
The story is so well known that at times you end up asking why, despite all of the stunning graphics and 3D elements, yet another version was needed.
One major irritation is the accents given to the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present (both Carrey).
Our Christmas Past ghost is represented by a candle with an otherworldly Irish lilt straight out of the pages of "Hollywood Orish accents circa 1955" but that's not a patch on the bizarre English-Scottish brogue given to Christmas Present.
The typical jolly interpretation is handed an accent which laughable moves from Scotland to Liverpool to Newcastle to Wales - all in the space of one sentence, it truly is terrible and distracting.
Thankfully things pick up for the very scary Ghost of Christmas Future (mercifully no speaking for him), which is likely to frighten more than its share of adults as well as kids.
The ending won't surprise anyone who knows the novel or the countless other movie adaptations of Dickens' tale and perhaps the problem with Zemeckis' version is that it does suffer in comparison. Despite it being a visual treat it doesn't seem to offer anything new.

Films such as Scrooged and, dare I say it, The Muppets Christmas Carol, had more heart and emotion.

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