A Christmas Carol movie poster
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A Christmas Carol movie poster

A Christmas Carol Movie Review

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It's a timeless tale of redemption and forgiveness, of holiday giving and the Christmas spirit (or three spirits). A Christmas Carol is one of the most well known stories in the world and has been reinvented and re-imagined countless times over the last century. But with Disney's latest incarnation of the movie, we're once again left asking: what the hell happened to Robert Zemeckis?

Since the beginning of his career in the early 1980's to Cast Away in 2000, Zemeckis directed some of the best movies of this generation. Romancing the Stone. Back to the Future. Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Forrest Gump. With the exception of Death Becomes Her, his career was nearly flawless.

And then he discovered motion capture technology and Zemeckis committed himself to driving some of the most inane animated films ever made down audience's throats. The Polar Express was unintentionally creepy. Beowulf was a disaster of epic proportions. And now A Christmas Carol, further evidence that Zemeckis has lost his way.

In this latest version of A Christmas Carol, Jim Carrey stars as wicked Ebenezer Scrooge, who has committed his life to saving every penny he can, no matter what the expense. The movie is rated PG, but when the ghosts arrive you'd guess otherwise. The first one, played by Gary Oldman, is downright scary, and the rest - all played by Carrey - aren't necessarily child friendly. At the same time, A Christmas Carol is, in essence, a cartoon, one made for 3D no less. Its script is written for younger audiences and the on-screen action zany and over-the-top.

The movie could have gone two directions. It could have been gritty and realistic (and ideally not a cartoon), or it could have been fun and lighthearted. Instead, Zemeckis took the middle road and hit a big, nasty dead end. Carrey's performance is a caricature of a well known literary character, not exactly a believable, three-dimensional turn. The movie itself is much the same; it's glitzy and detailed, but shallow, hallow. This problem has haunted all of Zemeckis' recent films. He's lost his ability to deliver characters and stories audiences care about.

The visual effects are once again subpar. Zemeckis and his team is working in the wrong decade. Every one of the major CGI films released to theaters these days - especially those produced by Disney-Pixar - look a hundred times better than The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol. And as far as motion capture goes, Avatar, which was just released a month after this movie, proved just how far behind the times Zemeckis is.

Disney's A Christmas Carol isn't a complete disaster, but it is a dreadfully boring, uninspiring and poorly made Christmas movie. Jim Carrey isn't much fun, nor is the production as a whole. It's a holiday movie without the holiday cheer. Bah-humbug!

Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

The 2-disc Blu-Ray combo pack comes with the movie in both Blu-Ray and DVD formats. The DVD contains a featurette called "Capturing Dickens", which looks at how the movie was made, as well as an on-set "visit" with one of the child actors. It also contains some deleted scenes, but who would want to watch deleted scenes from an already bad movie? The Blu-Ray disc includes those features as well as a picture-in-picture alternate viewing mode that shows the motion capture work in progress, as well as a a few other items. Regardless of the bonus features, A Christmas Carol isn't worth watching, let alone buying.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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