(For scary sequences and images)
When Disney decided to make an animated version of “Tarzan” people asked one question: “Why?” Weren’t there enough version os Tarzan already? Why do we need another one? This was the feeling going into that movie, but of course “Tarzan” was awesome and just proved that people were a bunch of idiots sometimes. The odd thing about this situation is that it doesn’t apply to Disney’s latest animated offering “A Christmas Carol.” Based off the classic book by Charles Dickens, his novel has been adapted into at least 40 different movies and TV specials, with various TV shows making Christmas Carol-inspired storylines of their own. Not to mention Disney has already adapted this story twice (“Mickey’s A Christmas Carol” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol”), so what could they possibly offer now?
Aside from the 3D gimmick, there is one thing that former adaptations of this story has been missing: Menace! Lots of menace. The story is very much the same as we’ve always known it, where miserable Ebenezer Scrooge must be visited by three ghosts to avoid a horrible fate in the afterlife. Through these trials he views his past, present, and future. We all know Bob Cratchit (Gary Oldman), Jacob Marley (Oldman), and Tiny Tim (Ryan Ochoa) with his now immortal “God Bless us, everyone” line. This we all expect. What people might not expect from Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “The Polar Express”) vision are skellingtons, free flowing flights of fantasy, Scrooge questioning his inner demons, and Christmas carols sounding better then they ever have before.
Parents who take their children to this appropriately rated PG film are likely going to be shocked that the story is grim and at times unforgiving. They will likely complain that the Disney marketing staff tried to hide the scary moments in this film by making it look like a fun romp. Even Jim Carrey’s presence as Scrooge and the three ghosts suggest this will be a fun ride. It’s not. While there are funny moments and even a few scenes that make you smile, this is not the comedy you are most likely expecting. I blame Disney for not having more confidence in the public to think they had to trick them into seeing this movie, but this is one of the more mature adaptations of this book I’ve seen recently. Most studios who want to adapt this into a movie feel that this classic story is for families, and should be filmed as such.
Zemeckis has no such illusions. He knows that this is a book with scary moments. Most classics do. His response was to keep the movie faithful as well as the dialog and acting. Carrey plays Scrooge not as a goofy old man but a tormented one. It took me awhile to figure out that the somewhat over-the-top humbug was a mask for his own loneliness. Scrooge humbugs everyone he see’s throughout the day, goes home, and sits in his chair with a sad look in his eyes. At this point we realize that he’s been haunted by his past long before the ghosts arrive, which makes us believe even more how willing he is to change, and it’s to Carrey’s credit that Scrooge never becomes a cartoon. Truth be told, Carrey is more animated in real life then he is in this cartoon.
“A Christmas Carol” opens in regular theaters in IMAX 3D. Disney likely hired Zemeckis to direct this movie in hopes that he would create the next “The Polar Express,” a previous film he did that was met with great (yearly) financial success in IMAX. This year “The Polar Express” takes a break from IMAX for the first time in almost five years, and all we can do is see if “A Christmas Carol” gains enough attention to replace it. I think it will. Some people will likely react negatively to this film because it’s strange and unexpected, but I think it’s a new Christmas classic and I can’t wait to see it again.
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A Christmas Carol is a 2009 film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1843 story of the same name. The film is written and directed by Robert Zemeckis, and stars Jim Carrey in a multitude of roles, including Ebenezer Scrooge as a young, middle-aged, and old man, and the three ghosts who haunt Scrooge.
The 3-D film was produced through the process of performance capture, a technique Zemeckis has previously used in his films The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007).
A Christmas Carol began filming in February 2008, and was released on November 6, 2009 by Walt Disney Pictures. It received its world premiere in London, coinciding with the switching on of the annual Oxford Street and Regent Street Christmas lights, which in 2009 had a Dickens theme.
The film was released in Disney Digital 3-D and IMAX 3-D. It is also Disney's third retelling of A Christmas Carol in 26 years, having released Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983 (using the in-house Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck characters) and later distributing The Muppet Christmas Carol for Jim Henson Productions in 1992, with Disney later acquiring the rights to The Muppets from Jim Henson Productions. The film also marks Jim Carrey's first role in a Disney film.