Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Disney's A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray)

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG

Starring:
Jim Carrey as Scrooge/Ghost of Christmas Past/Scrooge as a Young Boy/Scrooge as a Teenage Boy/Scrooge as a Young Man/Scrooge as a Middle-Aged Man/Ghost of Christmas Present/Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Steve Valentine as Funerary Undertaker/Topper
Daryl Sabara as Undertaker's Apprentice/Tattered Caroler/Beggar Boy/Peter Cratchit/Well-Dressed Caroler
Gary Oldman as Bob Cratchit/Marley/Tiny Tim
Colin Firth as Fred
Cary Elwes as Portly Gentleman #1/Dick Wilkins/Mad Fiddler/Guest #2/Business Man #1
Robin Wright Penn as Fan/Belle
Bob Hoskins as Mr. Fezziwig/Old Joe

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Special Features:
Behind The Carol: Full Motion Capture Experience
Countdown To Christmas Interactive Calendar
Capturing Dickens: A Novel Telling
On Set With Sammi: A Kid's Eye View
Deleted Scenes

Includes DVD Copy Of A Christmas Carol

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
DTS-HD MA 5.1 Sound
Spanish and French Languages
Spanish and French Subtitles
Running Time: 96 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

"From Walt Disney Pictures comes the magical retelling of Charles Dickens' beloved tale -- 'Disney's Christmas Carol,' the high-flying, heartwarming adventure for the whole family, starring Jim Carrey. When three ghosts take penny-pinching Scrooge on an eye-opening journey, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas. Complete with spirited bonus features, this exhilarating and touching Disney classic is destined to be part of your holiday tradition, adding sparkle and heart to all your Christmases yet to come."

"A Christmas Carol" is rated PG for scary sequences and images.

Mini-Review:
The problem with making a movie based on such a well known story as "A Christmas Carol" is that everybody already knows how it is going to end. There are no surprises, no twists or turns, or anything else to pull audiences in. All you have going for you is how you uniquely interpret the source material.

Robert Zemeckis had three things going for him in his version of the Charles Dickens classic. The first is that he had Jim Carrey in the lead role. This, normally, would be enough, but Carrey doesn't do a lot of unique things in the role. He's simply the grumpy old man that we've always expected Scrooge to be. There's nothing new in his interpretation. The second thing Zemeckis tried to woo audiences with was the CG animation. While the performance capture and beautiful animation is impressive, it's nothing new either. We've seen photo-realistic people before. We've seen every nuance of an actor's performance captured digitally as well (see "Avatar"). So the CG animation doesn't provide enough razzle dazzle. The final thing Zemeckis tried to impress with is the 3D animation. While this may have been enough of a novelty to impress audiences in theaters, you don't have 3D widely available in home theaters yet. Without that novelty, this is just another version of "A Christmas Carol" that brings nothing new to the table. "Scrooged" is a better version in comparison because it, at least, did a new take on the old material and it used the talent of its lead actor to great effect.

I can say Zemeckis did one thing effectively - he scared the crap out of kids with this version. The ghosts are all quite scary. In fact, I'd say they're too intense for younger viewers unless you're OK with paying for years of therapy later on. Parents should be warned. If you want to see a straight-up interpretation of "A Christmas Carol," then this will deliver. But if you're looking for something more then you'll need to look elsewhere.

I have to admit that I found the bonus features to be more entertaining than the movie itself. You get "Capturing Dickens: A Novel Telling" which delves deeply into the making of the movie. You see how the complex motion capture was done. You see Carrey and Oldman performing multiple roles. You see the detailed production design, the orchestral score, and more. From a technical perspective, it's really fascinating.

"Behind The Carol: Full Motion Capture Experience" allows you to watch the movie with a picture-in-picture window showing the live-action performance by the actors. The side by side comparison is really interesting.

For the kids you have an exceedingly boring "Countdown To Christmas Interactive Calendar" which just features some cheesy animations behind an advent calendar. "On Set With Sammi: A Kid's Eye View" shows one of the child actors on the set getting the dots on her face, going through the motion capture process, etc. Finally there are a few Deleted Scenes.

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