Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Disney's A Christmas Carol

There were countless reasons to be skeptical of Disney's A Christmas Carol.

Firstly, it was another conventional take on Dicken's 'classic' (i.e. ridiculously overplayed) Christmas tale - and the world needs a new 'Christmas Carol' movie about as much as it needs another ice-age!

There are already no less than 26 'faithful' movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol and countless spoofs and imitations (from Bill Murray's amazing 'Scrooged' to 'The Flintstones Christmas Carol.')

Secondly, it starred Jim Carrey - in multiple roles. Funnily enough, 'Jim Carrey - in multiple roles' translates in my native tongue as: 'Gag me with a spoon.'

There's only so much of the Carreymeister one man can handle (and I was nearly at saturation point already.)

And thirdly, finally, it was written and directed by Robert Zemeckis - and produced in his trademarked 'CGI-animation' style which he used during 'The Polar Express' - another dreary film in which the lead actor (Tom Hanks) played just about every part.

So let's just say I wasn't looking forward to this movie. Only three things sustained me:
  • It was a the first time I was going to see a 3-D movie in the cinema.
  • Our tickets were free, thanks to coupons in the PennySaver.
  • I was buoyed by two schooners of Sam Adams beforehand.
So even though I was reluctantly dragged to the theater, at least I had a pair of 3-D glasses to look forward to.

Stylish and practical! Score!

3-D movies have evolved since the days of the green/red acetate glasses. Instead, we got plastic glasses which were (presumably, I'm no expert) polarised differently. This meant you could see perfectly with them on (and make your way to the bathroom without tumbling down the steps.)

Settling into our seats, the movie began - and I was blown away.

The opening scene of A Christmas Carol is a view through a frosty window, into the streets of Victorian London - and it looked real. Real enough to reach out and touch the glass. The 3-D effects were simply breathtaking. The computer graphics produced a vividly rendered version of Victorian London that was so realistic you felt like you could have clambered through the screen and dropped down into them.

Carrey played Scrooge as halfway between Shylock, from Merchant of Venice, and Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave.

But the truth be told, that was where the excitement, originality and energy began and ended.

Despite looking simply astonishing, A Christmas Carol turned out to be one of the most boring, pedestrian and unoriginal adaptations of the Dicken's classic that I'd ever seen.

Oh, don't get me wrong - it was utterly faithful to the original book; even down to the verbatim dialogue. But considering that there are already at least a dozen 'faithful' and verbatim adaptations of the Christmas Carol, this made the entire thing utterly bland. The 3-D effects were skillfully played so as not to dominate the movie (you didn't spend the entire time waving your hands in front of you, murmuring 'whoooooo!') but that meant it was up to the script and acting to sustain the film - and they weren't up to par.

Did you know that the clich├ęd portrayal of ghosts, as dragging about their clanking chains, originated entirely from the description of Jacob Marley in Dicken's A Christmas Carol?

And they were both adequate enough, before you wonder. The script was as good as if Dickens had written it himself (well, he had!) and Jim Carrey was utterly convincing as vile, irascible Scrooge. However, it had all been done before. Even the few peppy additions (like a chase scene, with a shrunken Scrooge skidding through icy drainage pipes) were just tedious and felt tacked on.

After two hours, when Scrooge awoke on Christmas morning and ordered the biggest turkey for the Cratchits, it was difficult not to suppress a yawn. The fact that we left the theater discussing the amazing effects, and whether or not we recognized the voice behind one particular character or another, should be indicative of how uninspiring and flat the narrative actually was.

A Christmas Carol is 3-D is a technically adept movie, and highly 'worthy' on its individual merits. However, when the whole package is wrapped up - even with the stunning visual effects - it ends up being less than the sum of its parts.

I feel that the story of Dicken's 'A Christmas Carol' was sucked cinematically dry a long time ago - and this latest version did nothing to pump new life into it.

1 comment:

strike said...

I liked this movie very much..This movie is very interesting ..i downloaded this movie from the internet...you can also watch A Christmas Carol movie from the internet....