Review for A Christmas Carol
A Christmas Carol is possibly Charles Dickens most popular novel (or at least up there with Oliver Twist) and is certainly one of the most retold stories for Christmas. Whether it is the Muppets or Bill Murray in Scrooged the story is well known and for that reason you wonder whether Director and Writer Robert Zemeckis actually read the book at all when he came to make the film and also when he will actually think about using real actors again?
The film stars Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge who after living his life as a miser, abusing both his worker Bob Cratchett (Gary Oldman) and only nephew Fred (Colin Farrell) is visited by the ghost of his partner Jacob Marley (also played by Oldman) and is visited by three ghosts through the night of Christmas Past, Present and Future (all played by Jim Carrey). This is all told over one night (Though Jacob says it will happen over three nights which is either a mistake they forgot to rectify or just an oversight) with Scrooge seeing how he was in the past, how life is in the present, particularly for Cratchit looking after Tiny Tim and in the future for Scrooge and those he affects.
As Zemeckis has forgotten how to direct real actors, he has once again gone back to the motion capture computer generated version which worked so well in the awful retelling of Beowulf. It is actually a surprise that it's been over a decade since he has directed an actual actor (Castaway incidentally) and his reliance on technology made it that I did not contact with this film in the slightest. The eyes of the characters still do not have the glimmer of life that they should and at times I felt like I was watching the cutscenes that occur in the middle of a computer game. The sad thing about all this is that I feel that by not being a proper film, Carrey was robbed of a number of Best Actor nominations as his 'performance' as Scrooge and the ghosts is some of the best and most subtle work he has ever done. The rest of the cast get by, with Oldman putting on his cheeky cockney and Firth playing Mr Darcy as usual, but are nothing spectacular. The effects of the film are as amazing as you would expect and the music is a treat throughout. What I do have a particular issue with is the liberty taken with the story. At times (The three nights turning into one for instance) it feels as though the creators are relying on us forgetting that we had ever read the book and to ignore many of the things that are integral to the book. One example is that when Cratchit begs for Christmas Day off it is a nothing scene with neither having to actually fight for it. Because of this it did nothing to show how much of a miser Scrooge was or how much it would mean to Crachit. In fact, very little is done to establish Scrooge as the miserly man we all know and because of that the change in him at the end is not as effective as it has been in other versions.
The bonus features on the Blu-Ray and DVD are a little lacklustre with a few deleted scenes which only highlight how they created the film, but don't actually add anything. In my opinion, if there had been more scenes like this (maybe using the angle option) to show how it was all put together, it would have been far more interesting. The short 'making of' documentary is just that, short. With all the advances that seem to have gone with the motion capture and so on it seems odd that they could think less than fifteen minutes would be enough time. On Set with Sammi is a less than two minutes of one of the younger actors going through the motion capture should have been interesting, but again far too short. The rest is made up of trailers and two featurettes on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D which are amusing and interesting for those thinking of updating.
A Christmas Carol is not a horrible retelling of the classic Dickens' story; however with so many different versions out there, it is certainly not the best one. I get the feeling that Zemeckis felt that he needed to use his new gimmick of filmmaking to make the film feel fresh, but personally if he had made the film for real it would have been a much more satisfying film. But he didn't, so bah humbug!