A Christmas Carol is a book by Charles Dickens that has survived since its original publishing with the help of the incalculable incarnations that have been made of it. This story sets foot into new territory with the Disney film: three-dimensional animation and on top of that it is offered in 3D.
A Christmas Carol has always been a family favorite because of its rich characters and warm message. Jim Carrey plays the voice of Scrooge and after such light-hearted children’s films by him such as The Grinch, I expected a similar experience. However, this film surprised me in a lot of ways.
The first thing that I noticed about this film was the immediate adult tone of it. In the opening scene, for example, Scrooge stands above a dead Marley to sign his death certificate, as he does in the book. The scene makes a demonstration of Scrooges character by having him steal the coins that were placed on Marley’s eyes. This is a good joke, but it surprised me in a film by Disney. This was only the beginning of the dark tones of this film, however.
The creators of this movie decided to take the cue from the original book and create a “ghost story about Christmas.” What I mean by this is that many of the scenes, particularly ones concerning the ghosts are very scary and unsuitable for easily frightened children. One scene that immediately comes to mind is when the ghost of Christmas present dies before Scrooges eyes, laughing demonically until he becomes a laughing skeleton and then dissolves into dust. This scene was certainly entertaining from an adult perspective and keeps well with the feel of the movie, but I couldn’t help thinking that the children in the audience would be having nightmares that night.
I think largely to offset this darkness, the movie has many instances of slapstick, mainly with Scrooge as the victim. Since the audience has already seen just how much Scrooge deserves a good knock, it mostly doesn’t bother the audience to see him shrunk to the size of a pea and sent flying through the air. The rest of the humor is mostly the ironic classic dialogue, with a few extra jokes thrown in here and there, but the comedy is decidedly dark and adult in most cases. Still, the plot keeps very faithfully to the the book in many ways and yet take interesting innovative steps in other ways (such as a unique interpretation of each of the spirits).
But perhaps the thing that can be most applauded about this movie is the stunning 3D work. Many scenes begin with an artistic “camera view” from a low point or object and these zoomed shots demonstrate an amazing level of detail. This movie is so beautiful that one almost needs to buy the DVD in order to see everything in each shot. The realism of textures is, I believe, better than any movie that has yet been seen. The characters, on the other hand, though often very realistic, sometimes take on a more cartoonish quality in their movements which for me was not pleasant, though this is for comedic affect. Still, most of the movie is absolutely stunning.
This is a movie that is perhaps more for the adults than for the kids; a quality that is not seen much from Disney. It is a dark and interesting take on the classic tale that will frighten and delight you every minute. The effect is even greater in 3D and Disney provides 3D glasses that are not quite as irritating as they could be. I give this movie a very strong recommendation except for easily frightened children.