A Christmas Carol (2009)

A Christmas Carol (2009)
  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Animation | Drama | Family
  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Cast: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth


On Christmas Eve, crotchety miser Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead partner Jacob Marley. Scrooge is told that what they do in life will determine what happens to them in the afterlife. Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts and to take heed of what happens. The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past, shows Scrooge that he was once a happy young man, carefree and in love but money became his greatest desire. The Ghost of Christma Present shows him how others, including his nephew Fred and his clerk Bob Cratchit, The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, shows Scrooge the fate that awaits him. Scrooge learns from his visits and becomes a good man who knows how to celebrate Christmas.

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  • Will Robert Zemeckis ever return to live-action filmmaking? His recent animated features such as The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007) featuring the use of motion capture technology to create lifelike characters modeled after real actors have lost the magic and human touch of his earlier works like Back to the Future (1985), Forrest Gump (1994), and Contact (1997). The Oscar-winning director continues to rely on excessive technology, identifying it as the way ahead for the future of filmmaking. His latest work, A Christmas Carol, fortunately meets expectations, even surpassing them on several occasions; it is a much better follow-up to the debacle that is Beowulf, and is on par with The Polar Express in terms of its focus in storytelling.

    Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol is perhaps the most faithful cinematic adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel ever made. Its dialogue reads like classic literature – exaggerative and expressive like a theatrical play. This is a film made for young teenagers in mind rather than kids, though the excellent visuals will keep the latter engrossed. The narrative is conventional but commits to detail the retelling of Dickens’ beloved tale in three major acts – Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come – sharing an almost equal amount of emphasis.

    In addition, the film captures the dark elements of its source both viscerally and atmospherically. It contains numerous jump scenes and disturbing images which can be very frightening. The mood it generates is also one of fear and unpredictability as experienced by Scrooge (Jim Carrey), the film’s main character. After all, besides being a tale of love and redemption, A Christmas Carol is also a terrifying ghost story, one in which Zemeckis ‘rubs it in’. Once again, this picture is not quite suitable for younger audiences.

    The camera is often moving, and moving at speed, following Scrooge as he finds himself trapped in a real nightmare along with spirits ‘hell-bent’ on forcing him to come into terms with his own existence. Scrooge falls from the sky, ‘flies’ above and around his city, and runs away from the evil clutches of dark shadows. Because the film is made with 3-D in mind, camera movements tend to be less direct and are more fanciful, capturing the tension and adrenaline of the moment. Even in 2-D, A Christmas Carol is an excellent thrill ride.

    Unfortunately, as with Beowulf, Zemeckis still has not solved the ‘glass eye’ problem since The Polar Express in which the characters have eyes which look lifeless and hollow. The eye is perhaps the singular most important aspect of a character’s physical feature because emotions (many of them inferential) can be observed through it. It is not as much of a problem as compared to Beowulf due to Zemeckis’ full focus on the narrative here. However, in some way or another, it still impedes the film from faring better emotionally. A Christmas Carol signals a return to form for Zemeckis but there is a niggling feeling that he may have past his prime.

    GRADE: B (7.5/10 or 3.5 stars)
    More reviews: http://www.filmnomenon2.blogspot.sg/

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