Robert Zemeckis has found the style of movie making that he likes. Combining animation created by using the actors providing the voices. The Polar Express and Beuwolf were his first two and now he’s back with the same formula, this time having Charles Dickens’ timeless tale as his source material.
You know the story. Miser and penny-pincher Scrooge gets visited by the ghost of his former partner, Marley, and told he will be visited by three more spirits who ill show him his life in the past, present and things to come, obviously shaking him up.
Positives first: Zemeckis has done the clever thing of keeping faithful to the book. He hasn’t strayed too far or added anything unnecessary, and so you feel comfortable with the tale. The animation is extraordinary, and given the bonus of 3D, it has extra depth. Does it need the third dimension? I don’t think so, I think you can still enjoy this in 2D, it just makes the details clearer and more defined.
Jim Carrey gets the opportunity to play Scrooge, and he does a very fine job, restraining himself and in some places, underplaying it, leaving the hysterics behind. The character of Scrooge did look like Albert Steptoe from Steptoe And Son. Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins also appear and give their talents to the film.
If there is any criticism, it is the accents from some of the other characters. Carrey provides the voice of The Ghost of Christmas Present, a giant, jolly, red-headed gentlemen, but alas, we have absolutely no idea where he was suppose to be coming from. Is he Scottish? Northern? Cockney? Australian??? I am sure that with so much acing talent from this country at Zemeckis’ fingertip that he could have found an actor to take on that role and do one accent, and do it well.
The film has also been criticised about losing its heart, but I don’t think so. Scrooge has to be an unlikeable character to make the ending work, and Carrey has done this, and while many may think it is over sentimental, then they don’t fully understand the story properly. Dickens wanted a tale of greed and gluttony turned into redemption and the only way you can do this is by having something that touches, and Tiny Tim is that catalyst.
It zips through at a steady pace, and it never has any dull patches. I do question who this film is actually aimed at, as the very young may find some of the images quite scary, and I also question Disney’s decision to release it so far away from Christmas. Is this because they wanted to get their 3D movie out of the way before James Cameron’s much hyped Avatar comes out next month?
No matter. If you want to get into the Christmas feeling early, then head off for this enjoyable re-telling. It doesn’t come close to Alastair Sim’s 40s version, but it’s not too bad.