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Xmas: 'A Christmas Carol' (2009) Dir. Robert Zemeckis

Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Cary Elwes, Steve Valentine, Fionnula Flanagan and Daryl Sabara


Visionary director Robert Zemeckis uses technology from 'The Polar Express' to bring a new adaptation of the greatest Christmas story ever told to new audiences in thrilling ways...

Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey), a bitter, miserable moneylender sucks the joy out of Christmas for all, including colleague Bob Cratchit (Oldman) and nephew Fred (Firth). He hides himself away, living only for work and doesn't believe in the spirt of Christmas.

As night draws in, the ghost of former business partner Jacob Marley (Oldman) visits him and warns that if he doesn’t change his ways he will suffer the same fate as Jacob in the afterlife; a lonely, cold, bitter and torturous infinity.

As the clock strikes midnight, the first ghost arrives and so begins a night like no other for Scrooge as he is taken across time in a journey that will force him to re-evaluate his ways and give him one last chance for redemption if he is to save himself and all he cares for...

One of the greatest Christmas stories ever written, and told in many adaptations over TV, radio and film, always manages to convey the real spirit of what Christmas is all about in a heart-warming and entertaining, simple way. This adaptation, via the imagination of Robert Zemeckis, following his 2009 motion-capture animation ‘The Polar Express’, combines that same dizzying 3D spectacle with nightmarish action, well presented characters and a well-meaning narrative.

Jim Carrey is on fine form in motion-capture and vocal mode as Ebenezer Scrooge; wiry, mean and cantankerous to the best, almost looking like a man corrupted by the bitterness he embodies with claw-like hands, a bent frame and leather face. The animation is superb, with lots of detail to every hair, inch of skin and location we see. Mixed with a great vocal performance, this Scrooge I feel is one of the best and probably one of the closest interpretations to the Dickens original; coming over at times like an old beast rather than an old man.

With good support from a fairly British cast including Gary Oldman, Bob Hoskins and Colin Firth, the simple story isn’t lost amidst the made-for-3D action that we are treated to; flying through a beautiful wintery Victorian London, or around a snow-capped countryside or even down the dark and dangerous streets at night-time. This manages to capture the time in history perfectly and looks just the part, with the animation helping our characters bend the laws of physics for a fantastical tale that never puts the actors in danger as they fly, fall and fight.

For a story that nearly everybody knows so well, the way it is presented is key to staying fresh and current, and this is clearly the first 3D motion-capture adaptation giving us lots of nice touches that brings the story to life (literally) with great detail to all the settings we see; flickering candle lights, creaky wooden houses, furious snow falls.

While the film may not be generally suitable for younger viewers thanks to, once again, the love of nightmarish visions Zemeckis injects into these tales that seem innocent enough (we have laughing skeletons, terrifying ghosts who scream at the camera, feral children and demonic horses thundering towards the screen), maybe younger viewers should stick with the fluffy fun of ‘The Muppets Christmas Carol’. 

But, on the whole this is a nice 90mins run time and doesn’t change the foundations of the story at all. With a wonderfully rousing and traditional soundtrack that channels that festive spirit, and a beautiful rendition of 'God Bless Us Everyone' by Andrea Bocelli, this is classic Christmas with a modern spirit.

This animated outing offers a very authentic adaptation of a classic with fresh fantasy injected to take not just Scrooge on an dark, dizzying journey, but also the audience too.

'Disney's A Christmas Carol' is a Walt Disney Pictures / ImageMovers Digital production

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