Movie Review: A Christmas Carol 3D (2009)

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Published on: 2009.11.08

This is at least the 18th movie based on Charles Dickens’ novella, written in 1843. It’s the third one by Disney in 26 years. Did we really need another one?

Probably not, and that’s the only reason I couldn’t rate this one higher than 8 out of 10 on my personal scale. Looking at the new film on its own merits, though, it’s pretty darn good.

2009’s “A Christmas Carol” sticks pretty close to Dickens’ story. In fact, more than most films by the same name, this one felt accurate and honed in on the original characters more than expected. Some of the dialogue is pulled straight from the pages of the acclaimed British writer.

The plot, as you may know, centers around bitter old money-changer and miser Ebeneezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), who is visited by four ghosts in the night, leading him through a profound personal catharsis that changes his life.

Carrey also plays three of the ghosts, and Gary Oldman took on the role of Jacob Marley’s ghost, as well as Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

The movie is billed as “animated,” but was actually filmed using the process of “performance capture,” using live human models for the acion, with a digital overlay added later. Director Robert Zemeckis has also used this process for other films, like Beowulf (2007) and Polar Express (2004).

The scenes of Victorian-era London in winter are delightfully accurate and detailed, and scenes where the camera moves through the city in 3-D are eye-popping. In fact, in the 3-D version of this film, every scene is textured so well that the viewer feels fully immersed.

As I mentioned above, I took points off for re-making an overmade movie. Is it just me, or is about half of Hollywood’s current output simply a re-heated version of some other movie?

I also took points off because it’s not quite as kid-friendly as the advertisements would lead you to believe, mostly because the writers stuck so closely to Dickens’ out-dated English, but also because some parts are pretty darn scary.

I haven’t seen the non-3D version of this movie, so I can’t recommend that. But in 3-D this movie is very fun, and certainly worth a watch. Even kids can enjoy the action scenes and Carrey’s physical comedy, though they’ll likely miss much of the dialogue.

IMDb: A Christmas Carol
Wikipedia: A Christmas Carol
Rating: PG
(for scary sequences and images)
Length: 96 min. (1:36)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: animation / drama / family
My Rating: 8 of 10
Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Steve Valentine, Daryl Sabara, Sage Ryan, Ryan Ochoa

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