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November 6, 2009
Review - " Disney's A Christmas Carol "   
(in theaters) By
Roland Hansen
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throughout the run times. With the title of "The Ultimate Gift" it's fairly obvious why I would choose that one as part of my
holiday viewing however if you watch "The Man From Earth" I think you may come to understand that choice as well.

All this brings us to the latest iteration of Charles Dickens' classic tale, A Christmas Carol. As usual, the plot centers on
Ebenezer Scrooge, the tightfisted crank who bah-humbugs through the holidays and on Christmas Eve learns the error of his
ways. In this latest interpretation, the great, rubber-mugged Jim Carrey embodies Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past
and Christmas Present. He's also credited with the voice of the third, but the bony-fingered Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
isn't all that talkative. Gary Oldman does triple duty as Marley, Scrooge's clerk Bob Cratchit and the hobbled, angelic Tiny
Tim.

In 3D, Disney made the story come to life with vigor. The movie keeps you focused throughout, even though you know the
ending. All the characters are extremely alive and the scenes are picture perfect. Jim Carrey, as Ebenezer Scrooge, played
his role flawlessly. He presented the part so well bringing out your emotions portraying Scrooge as a cold hearted person
who disliked Christmas and charities. The story actually came alive in front of your eyes. Zemeckis does restore some of the
original tale's ghostly ghastliness, conjuring genuinely bone-chilling moments that are probably a bit too creepy for the little
ones. The ghosts were so realistic that it made an impact as you watched. Bob Marley was particularly creepy and chilly - the
best I've seen in any "carol" version. For animation, the emotions of the characters really shone trough, especially in the
eyes, which finally seem to sparkle with life. Seeing Bob Cratchit's face at the death of Tiny Tim had a couple tears rolling
down my cheeks (a bit embarrassing for a 50 year old man to admit) and I heard more than a few sobs and sniffles from the
audience. At the end, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit's son came across so well that your emotions still lingered as you left the
theater.

For a distinctly modern approach, director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump," "Cast Away") opted to use
performance-capture animation, having the actors movements and expressions transferred from live-action to animation.
With "Carol," Zemeckis, who has made three films with the performance-capture technique, uses the technology to illuminate
the screen with the sparkle and joy of Christmas but with much darker material. With the exception of once zooming in (and
lingering) on a cross on top of a church, religion is strikingly missing from A Christmas Carol. Christ is not mentioned once in
the whole film. In fact one of the Christmas Spirits takes a well deserved swipe at organised religion. Most Christmas stories
at least touch on the christian religion. Even "A Charlie Brown Christmas" gets into Jesus as 'the reason for the season'. I'm
not complaining - trust me - I prefer my holiday entertainment to be distinctly non-preachy. (Those who know me know that I
am devoutly anti-religious).

Set in the impoverished gloom of Victorian England, it's both a ghost story and a morality play. Before Scrooge can shed his
money-grubbing ways, he must stare death and damnation in the face and have a full-on conversion experience: heavy stuff
for PG.

The architecture of this "Christmas Carol" is at times striking. The mid -19th century London of Dickens' novella is painted
with care, animated to be dramatically lit by candlelight. Zemeckis largely remains close to the text, allowing the audience to
soak up Dickens' language, still fresh and familiar and musical. The film preserves much of Dickens' original dialogue and
detail while amplifying the utter ethereal strangeness of the ghosts. The motion-capture effect, always eerie, makes
everything all the weirder. If some of the animation overdoes it, a lot of it is downright gorgeous. Few images this year have
followed me home like the Ghost of Christmas Past, here imagined as a bright-flamed candle with the face of a child. It
flickers. It whispers. It flies.

But too much of the film is geared around 3-D wizardry. Unneeded sequences pop up for purely "wow" baiting, such as an
airborne Scrooge shot skyward to the moon, and a gratuitous chase sequence as he runs from the Ghost of Christmas Yet
to Come (who has now wrestled up a chariot of black stallions). Most of the time, instead of becoming wrapped up in
Scrooge's transformation - and the characters who inspire it, from his own lonely boyhood to the ghost of his equally stingy
partner, Jacob Marley - we're busy noticing the cool snowflake effects, or the way the camera swoops and swirls as the
Ghost of Christmas Present gives Scrooge (both characters played by Carrey) a bird's-eye view of Victorian London.

Visually impressive, to be sure, but it's
not exactly the point of "A Christmas Carol".
Dickens' "Christmas Carol", that is.

In Zemeckis' "Christmas Carol" it's precisely
the point.

The time, not just the season, is ripe for
"A Christmas Carol." It is, of course, about a
greedy industrial capitalist (Scrooge recalls
his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, as
"a good man of business") who learns to see
the value of family and charity.

How ever could such a story be relevant
today?
Jim Carey as Ebbenezer Scrooge looks at the ghastly hand of Jacob Marley
Disney's A Christmas Carol - movieposter
Disney's A Christmas Carol
Directed by: Bob Zemeckis
Starring: Jim Carey, Jim Carey, Jim Carey, Jim Carey &  few other
people like Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins & Cary Elwes

Oh, how I love a good Christmas film and there are lots to choose from
when the season rolls around every year. Like most people,
Thanxgiving is when I typically begin letting the season’s music start
jingling in my ears - and when I take out my Christmas movies. When it
comes to picking which ones to watch every year there are the
standards, the non-traditional, and then there are the unintentional.

Once the end of November hits I usually break out as many as I can in
order to squeeze them all in before the big day arrives. The standard
ones are the mostly obvious: A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Elf,
Holiday Inn, White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, Scrooge, and the
original Miracle on 34th Street (No one should bother with the 1994
remake - although the 1973 TV version is actually quite good).

My personal tastes however, bring out others that most would probably
not typically think of during the season: Scrooged, Fred Claus, Bad
Santa, Love Actually, An American Christmas Carol (one of my
personal favorites), Joyeux Noel, The Gathering, & The Holiday.

I mentioned before the unintentional Christmas film and I’m sure you
were wondering what those would consist of. Among them are Die
Hard, The Apartment, Desk Set, Serendipity, Gremlins, The Ultimate
Gift and Man From Earth. Not exactly Christmas movies per se but with
the exception of The Ultimate Gift and Man From Earth they all take
place during the holiday and the season tends to exude itself