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I read that this film has been labeled by parents as a "Disney Bomb"
because it's too scary for their young children. Parents who take kids
to see any movie need to be aware of something: if it's rated PG there
are likely going to be scenes that your six year old will not enjoy --
even if the name Disney is attached to it. The cutesy versions of A
Christmas Carol (The Muppet Christmas Carol and Disney's own Mickey's
Christmas Carol for example) have little in common with the classic,
and sometimes very scary Charles Dickens story. The plot should be
familiar to just about anyone who has been alive sometime during the
past 150 years, and the fact that there are spirits (ghosts) in the
story should also be a red flag to parents. Especially since two of
them are downright frightening in just about any version of the story.
The truth is that this is one of the most beautiful and faithful remakes of the Dickens classic. The dialogue is taken nearly word-for-word from the book, and the look and feel of the film brilliantly capture what you would imagine wintertime in London in the 19th century to be like. A few of the special effects are a bit over-the-top, but most work well and add enough pizazz for cynical modern-day audiences. The scenes featuring the Ghost of Christmas Present are worth the price of admission alone.
Once every few months I'm dragged kicking and screaming to see a new film. I can't stand wasting my hard-earned dollar on the crap Hollywood throws at us these days, but every once in a while I'm pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoy a movie. This was definitely one of those rare times.
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.
After directing The Polar Express in 2004, Robert Zemeckis vowed to
only make 3D movies using motion-capture technology from then on, never
to return to traditional live action films again. What? How could he?
Moviegoers everywhere were bemused at how the bloke who gave us Forrest
Gump, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Contact
and Cast Away could settle for some silly 3D business. Perhaps Zemeckis
was smarter than us all though, his pledge to developing a decent 3D
output coming half a decade earlier than most. It seems he was on to
It is credit to Zemeckis though that his use of 3D isn't the drawcard for this wonderfully told fable, it purely enhances it. The opening title sequence is one of the most breathtaking of the year, as we soar over - and through - the old Victorian town in which Scrooge inhabits in only one shot. It doesn't end there however, with no less than two more flying scenes and a splendid chase sequence on foot, which capably show what mo-cap and 3D are capable of. One small gripe, as was present with Up, the glasses still make everything darker and subsequently duller; especially as this picture is intentionally not well-lit to begin with.
We all know the famous Charles Dickens novel for which this is based on and Zemeckis stays faithfully close to it, unworried about making a family movie that has very few laughs. Let's face it, the story of Scrooge isn't meant to be a light-hearted laughfest. With demonic horses (complete with glaring red eyes), ghosts with broken jaws and men withering away to a skeleton, this is anything but a hoot. But is that a bad thing? Not at all. In fact it is a relief to see a movie for young (but not too young) and old that doesn't shy away from evoking feelings of fear and regret rather than always sugar-coating them with funny moments. If dealt with rightly, emotions like these can be healthy and will have a longer lasting effect on you and your kids than something that only makes you laugh.
Providing the voice of Scrooge from childhood to old-age, along with the three Ghosts of Christmas, Carrey does a fine job, even with his normal over-the-top voicing toned down a few hundred decibels. He is barely recognisable in all his parts - a result that I'm sure Zemeckis would have been aiming for - which allows the characters to stand on their own two feet rather than be a typical Carrey product. The experienced supporting cast of Oldman, Hoskins, Firth, Elwes and Wright Penn add a nice level of class to the proceedings.
The dark and morose atmosphere might at first shock, but ultimately both children and adults will gain more from this experience than most family films. See it on the big screen.
4 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)
I took my grandson to see this, but I was dreading it. I'm not a Jim
Carrey fan but it's a Christmas movie, after all , so I bit the bullet
and we saw it at the IMAX in 3-D.
The visual effects are great, even though a lot of it was :"Look, we have 3-D!" They stayed very close to the original story, though they added a miniaturization segment that was unnecessary. Carrey was muted and did a great job with some occasional clowning around. It was actually scary in some parts, as it should be, but not overwhelmingly, and there were some laughs as well.
I have always enjoyed this story, because it's one of redemption, and there is no better time than Christmas to tell it. It shows people being compassionate, even in the face of someone as seemingly heartless as Ebeneezer Scrooge. I was first exposed to this story as a little boy watching the animated version with Mr. Magoo that came out in 1962 and is shown every year on TV. There are many such movies that define the season and I truly expect this to be one of them, along with Christmas Story, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, and It's a Wonderful Life.
Like the Macy's Parade, we all have our list of must-see holiday movies, no matter how many times we have seen them. I really expect this to make this list, with one caveat- I'm not sure how well the non 3-D version will translate to the TV screen. But the story is timeless and this movie does a good job of telling it.
From an artistic viewpoint, the new Robert Zemeckis film from the man
who gave us THE POLAR EXPRESS, is another of his animated features
using the motion picture capture technique that allows the actors to
play several roles. The cinematography is exceptionally well done.
JIM CARREY, as miserly Ebenizer Scrooge, looks nothing like his real self. He's a perfect Scrooge, using his voice and mannerisms to great effect, never overplaying the role as you might expect he would.
The visit from three spirits is more frightening than usual, since Zemeckis decided to throw everything he could into startling special effects--sometimes with very gruesome results. The sight of Marley's Ghost with a flapping jaw that has to be realigned by Marley is just one of the "extra" touches. Some of the "spirit" scenes are too intense for small children, more likely to frighten them than anything else.
There are times when the story remains very faithful to the Dickens book, sometimes even word for word. But when Zemeckis decides to show off that the camera can do with flying aerial scenes zooming over Victorian London, it begins to stray a bit. Biggest stray is a chase scene that has a miniature Scrooge going through drain pipes to escape an oncoming coach and horses trying to run him down.
The lovely score by Alan Silvestri blends perfectly with the on screen action and includes a number of traditional Christmas favorites. GARY OLDMAN and COLIN FIRTH do well in key supporting roles but it's really Carrey's show all the way. He plays several main characters with great skill.
Not quite as festive as you might expect, it's a darker version of Scrooge, handsomely executed so that many of the scenes look like Victorian illustrations from the novel.
Warning: This is not a child's version of the tale. Parents should be advised that some of the content is too gruesome for young kids.
I wonder if Robert Zemeckis weren't a filmmaker if he would have become
a pilot. Look at his films and you may find a recurring shot in them,
if not all then at least a good lot of them: a shot up in the sky,
flying around and bringing the audience along (i.e. the feather in
Forrest Gump, the pull-back through the valley and mountains in
Beowulf, Back to the Future with the flying Dolorean), and here too are
shots like that, more than one in fact. It's exhilarating to see
Zemeckis at a mastery of this particular shot, and in the full scope
and awe in 3D it's even stronger to watch and wonder 'how did they do
it(?)' With motion-capture, anything is possible... except, sadly,
making one feel a true emotional connection to the material.
Oh, don't get me wrong. It's an improvement over The Polar Express, whose creepiness was more unto itself and jarring as opposed to serving the story, and one can already see advancements in the technology from Beowulf, which was also lots of fun and had an edge to it allowed only with the digital animation. But for some reason- maybe my heart is a lump of coal or I wasn't in the right Christmas spirit or something- the material in the film didn't connect with me, except those moments that were funny (intentionally or not, sometimes due to Jim Carrey's performance), and it became something peculiar. It's a story that is practically timeless, and the director is at the top of his game, almost at the same control of the medium for a particular story like Forrest Gump or Back to the Future - maybe more-so.
It's also still a WOOSH experience, not carrying the same time and effort for characters to really feel fully human before our eyes like, for example, Up did back in the summer. I mention all of this first since the story we all know pretty much (as an aside, I kept thinking back to the first incarnation of the story I saw as a child, the Muppet Christmas Carol, and marveled at how both that and this film kept much of the book's dialog and storytelling devices exactly), and it's almost pointless to recant it here. What is paramount to mention though is that Zemeckis, in keeping with the tone of the original Dickens text (and having the clout that he has), makes it a true Victorian horror movie.
It should be said also that children will be hit or miss with this version; while they'll delight and be awed by the animation and moments of craziness (my favorite being the scene with the ghost Marley and his entire presentation before Scrooge, unhooked jaw uneasily included), they may be put off by the "old" language, some of it in that olde 19th century English Dickens wrote in. Perhaps this is why, against his own better judgment, Zemeckis decided to add in a few scenes to change the very faithful adaptation, the key one being the chase through the streets of London in the Christmas-Future sequence. This is smack dab in the middle of what is the best segment of the film - seeing death as a silhouette with a bony finger and Scrooge's stark pleas is truly chilling - and it suddenly makes it also the worst. It kills the tension and makes a strange sensation: does one laugh at a tiny-voiced Scrooge running around like a mini Daffy Duck cartoon while he's supposed to be facing down his own demise? It's entertaining to watch, but awkward to behold at this point of the story.
That the motion-capture, for all of its beauty and detail in the faces and people and locations and dazzling set-pieces, doesn't engage on a purely spiritual level (not even to the extent that 'Muppet Christmas' did, that at least had the ghost of Henson on the production to keep things truly haunting), is somewhat forgivable for what Zemeckis does accomplish here. He puts a modern spin on a classic tale, makes it approximately dark and mostly uncompromising for all ages- adults will jump possibly more than the kids at the WHOA effects- and Jim Carrey is nothing short of astonishing.
Carrey plays Scrooge in such a bravura way that only calls attention to itself as a dramatic part (only toward the end, when he becomes "happy" Scrooge are there a few unintentional laughs), and it may even be the best Scrooge seen in many years in any medium. Added to this are his *other* parts in the film, as the ghosts of Christmas past and present, the former creepy just on the pronunciation of 's'. Others like Gary Oldman and Colin Firth come off more or less fine if not remarkable (Oldman as Marley is fantastic - as Cratchit, a Oldman-faced Hobbit, is another thing).
A Christmas Carol was very entertaining and the animation was superb. You must see it in 3D! However, kids who go and see this movie probably won't understand the majority of the dialogue and will probably get lost. It has a lot of adult situations and the accents are pretty thick as well. Also, don't let the PG rating fool you. It's actually quite mature and in my opinion it's more suited for adults than kids as far as the dialogue and story goes. I think both kids and adults will love the animation and have a lot of fun - especially in 3D! Unfortunately, that might be the only thing the kids will like...Nonetheless, it's a great film and it's definitely Oscar worthy for the animation. I'll definitely be seeing it again in theaters and in 3D!
In the Victorian era of the United Kingdom, the stingy and cranky
Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) that hates Christmas and people loses his
partner Jacob Marley in a Christmas Eve. For seven years, he runs his
business exploiting his employee Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman) and spends
a bitter treatment to his nephew and acquaintances. However, in the
Christmas Eve, he is visited by the doomed ghost of the chained Marley
that tells him that three spirits would visit him that night. The first
one, the spirit of past Christmas, recalls his miserable youth; the
spirit of the present Christmas shows him the poor situation of Bob's
family; and the spirit of future Christmas shows his fate. Scrooge
finds that life is good and God bless us everyone, changing his
behavior toward Christmas, Bob, his nephew and people in general.
This dark adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens to the screen is one of those optimistic films that follows the style of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" and it is impossible not loving it. The redemption of the mean Ebenezer Scrooge in a Christmas Eve is one of the most known worldwide novels and this animation produced by Disney Company follows the style of Tim Burton and may not be the best adaptation to the cinema, but it is indeed effective and a good family entertainment. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Os Fantasmas de Scrooge" ("The Ghosts of Scrooge")
What would Christmas be without a visit to Charles Dickens' 'A
Christmas Carol', a story that dates back to 1843 and has been loved
and read every year at this time? There have been other films, stage
productions, musicals, and family readings galore and it still holds
the magic of what the spirit of Christmas is all about. Doubtless there
will be flocks of naysayers who don't buy into this adaptation by
Robert Zemekis, but given the ghost story magic Dickens' created, this
film takes it one step further and makes the ghostly three spirits very
much alive and beautiful fanciful.
Combining the actors with animation (animating the actors might be a better way of describing the magic) makes each of the many very well known actors who portray the characters that much more credible. Jim Carrey is at his peak as an actor in his ability to become the illusions his mind creates: he portrays all three ghosts as well a Scrooge at every level of his history. Other actors who are transformed by Zemekis and staff include Gary Oldman as the trio of Cratchit, Marley's Ghost, and Tiny Tim, Colin Firth as the jovial nephew, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Bob Hoskins, Fionnula Flanagan and a host of others. The costumes and scenery are brilliantly executed.
One problem with the film that may require parental judgment is the fact that the ghosts are truly scary and children might not be able to get past the fear they instill. But they will grow into the film as it is likely a work that will be resurrected every Christmas season as a tradition. It is 'excellent, my good fellows'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
WARNING--LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD.
I am somewhat of an aficionado of the Carol so I really looked forward to Disney's latest release. I had really hoped that Robert Zemeckis would work his magic but, unfortunately, like most adapters of the Carol he felt the need to "improve" it. What he ended up doing was somehow removing most of the warmth and humanity from Dickens' well-loved story.
The movie starts by showing Scrooge removing the coins from the eyes of his late partner, Jacob Marley's, corpse. Yes, it shows that he is a miser it also shows he has no regard for, and almost contempt for, the one man in his life who was probably as close to a friend as he ever had. This scene was totally unnecessary, the story is over 150 years old, and we all KNOW that Scrooge is a stingy miser.
The first part of the movie is lighted in an authentic manner giving everything a dark and gloomy look. Unfortunately this darkness pretty much negates the 3-D effect. In fact the 3-D effect is pretty much negligible throughout the film, adding little to it. The only time it is clearly in 3-D is when it is snowing and the snow seems to be landing in your lap.
I will admit that Mr. Zemeckis uses much of the original dialog from the book throughout this movie but most of the action is heavily modified or totally new, and is, to anyone who is familiar with the book, intrusive and irritating.
For example, in the book the door knocker changes into Marley's face and then disappears. Here it not only appears but also screams in Scrooge's face causing him to fall down the front steps.
When Marley enters the room he doesn't just enter the room, he throws several of the heavy boxes he is chained to through the door first.
When the ghost of Christmas Past appears he looks like a candle and his head is, in fact, a candle flame floating above his body. At the end of this session Scrooge jams the candle-snuffer over the ghost's head just as in the book. Unlike the book he holds on to the snuffer and it suddenly blasts off like a rocket taking him high into the sky, then disintegrates and leaves him flying. He sails past the face of the moon in a scene reminiscent of E.T.s famous scene then falls seemingly miles toward the ground before waking up on the floor beside his bed. The whole segment is gratuitous and, quite frankly, childish.
When the Ghost of Christmas Present appears the ceiling in Scrooge's room is suddenly about 50 feet high. The Ghost looks exactly like Jim Carrey except with a beard and his expressions are the same smirking expressions that Carrey usually displays making the Ghost, at least to me, very unpleasant.
One of the things that made this segment so important in the book was that the Ghost took Scrooge around London and let him mingle with the people (albeit invisibly) to get a feel of the holiday spirit. Here, the Ghost apparently lifts the upper story from Scrooge's house and they fly around the city in it. Part of the floor becomes transparent and Scrooge observes everything as if on a television screen. Yes, he sees what's going on but, he does not mingle and there is no feeling of his gaining humanity.
At the end of this segment the Ghost says that he only lives for one season and abruptly ages, dies (while still laughing Ho, Ho, Ho) rots and turns into a skeleton, then disintegrates into dust and blows away.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come segment is, quite frankly, very frightening. Unlike most versions of the Carol the Ghost is mostly shown only in the shadow and becomes solid only rarely. There is a long segment which I found to be not only frightening to a younger child but totally outside the spirit of the book, gratuitous, and frankly stupid. The Phantom Hearse, mentioned only briefly in the book, chases a terrified Scrooge for what seems like miles. For some unexplained reason Scrooge suddenly shrinks until he is smaller than a mouse, he slides along a rooftop smashing into icicles, then falls off the roof and lands in the bag of the charwoman, Mrs. Dilber, who is taking Scrooge's belongings to sell. Scrooge witnesses her total lack of feeling for him and is aghast at how easily she stole things from him, still not realizing that in this future he is dead.
In the graveyard scene Scrooge, who is now again full size, is understandably terrified and, as in several other versions, he falls into his own open grave and he, and the audience, realizes that it ends in Hell. He is, of course, saved and reformed in the end but the feeling is not that he was reformed so much because of what he learned as that he is frightened into it.
Throughout the movie Scrooge is thrown, launched, battered and generally physically abused for no apparent purpose and with no apparent damage. The ghosts, up to and including Marley, do not seem to be the friendly, helpful and caring spirits of the book but seem, instead, to be enjoying making Scrooge suffer rather than helping him to learn.
Overall I found the movie to be cold, depressing and one of the least satisfying versions of A Christmas Carol that I have ever seen. I own more than 20 different versions of this story on tape and DVD. This version will NOT be part of my collection.
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