Published Nov 05, 2009The Internet Movie Database pulled up 38 variations of A Christmas Carol, including nods from Barbie and The Flintstones, in addition to 70 films in which a character named Ebenezer Scrooge has appeared. One would be hard-pressed to find a person not familiar with Dickens' holiday tale of greed, reflection, redemption and mortal awareness, which gives a feeling of redundancy to the prospect of enduring yet another reworking of the material. This is especially the case when the only thing new here is a bunch of flash-in-a-pan special effects for technophiles that claim to be film lovers.
Robert Zemeckis's third stab at motion-capture CGI animation plunks Jim Carrey into the roles of the miserly Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet-to-come, with a darker tonality that doesn't stray far from the source material. An overwhelming sense of gloom and otherworldly terror brings vitality to a children's film more thematically akin to those of the '70s and '80s, which didn't placate our tots like the easily damaged simpletons we appear to think they are today.
In this capacity, there is merit to this visually chaotic and dazzling big-budget adaptation of the anti-capitalist parable. But unfortunately, it gets lost in the third act, which delves too far into the zany and hectic just as Scrooge's crisis of identity reaches its changing point, leaving emotional build-up a moot point.
On the technical front, it appears that Zemeckis heard the complaints of dead eyes plaguing The Polar Express and Beowulf, leading to a heightened attention to emotional resonance on the lead characters. Unfortunately, secondary characters, such as Gary Oldman's Cratchit and Bob Hoskins' Mr. Fezziwig, still look like CGI zombie monsters.
What it all comes down to is one's propensity for seeing a big 3D studio spectacle that criticizes capitalist greed while supporting the very holiday that represents it in every capacity. We know the story and we know the message, so all that's left is to throw more money at it for some temporary, diluted holiday cheer. (Buena Vista)