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Christmas Carol, A (2009)

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Score: 6/10

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 36 min.

Release Date: November 6th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Robert Zemeckis Actors: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn

R

obert Zemeckis’ latest adaptation of the classic tale of “A Christmas Carol” is both morbidly dark and frighteningly realistic – almost as if Tim Burton had a hand in the design. From the decaying corpse of his old partner to Scrooge’s very appearance, everything is highly detailed for the sake of haunting visuals and terrifying imagery, which embodies the darker traits of a dismal reality. In fact, the miserly penny-pincher is even scarier than “Beowulf’s” Grendel. While extremely faithful in text, visually this spiritual journey resembles Poe more than Dickens, and the far more intense interpretation will likely fend off younger children.

Charles Dickens’ classic story of redemption finds itself retold through state-of-the-art CG, motion capture, and bouts of heavy surrealism. Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) values money more than anything else and scoffs at those that cherish the profitless joys of Christmas. But all that changes when the ghost of his old partner comes to warn him of the dire consequences of his ways – and three mysterious apparitions arrive to show him the terrifying realities of the world he has created around him.

Since when have children pleaded with their parents to be taken from a theater due to unrelenting terror – from a Disney film? Scrooge and every other character in “A Christmas Carol” are absolutely hideous, adding to the unnerving feeling that everything present has wandered from the unexplainably evil realm of “Silent Hill.” The video game world is impressive in three dimensions, especially as Scrooge is swept up and whisked through the city speedily and repeatedly. It’s gloomy, ghastly, and frequently frightening, but for what purpose? Who exactly is the target audience? “Beowulf’s” photorealistic character models are utilized once again, but the abandonment of gravity (most notable in Fezziwig’s party scene, in which he effortlessly twirls a hefty wench twenty feet into the air) and unnecessary stylizations in the moments of reality are clashing at best.

The story is still a classic and remains powerful thanks to Dickens’ writing. Zemeckis’ vision isn’t incredibly unique, the dialogue is standard, and the character designs are realistic but ugly. With all the amazing 3D technology available, why choose “A Christmas Carol,” a novel that has been adapted countless times? And why release it the first week of November? Few of the decisions for the film make a whole lot of sense. While the creepy ghosts and sudden, shocking imagery might frighten children into avoiding the ignoble life of Scrooge, the unexpected approach seems more like a fevered nightmare than a morality tale. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is Jim Carrey’s acting, which essentially transforms during the course of the film from a believable Ebenezer into an all too familiar Jim Carrey.

– The Massie Twins

 



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