"A Christmas Carol", by Charles Dickens is one of the most-frequently cinematographized stories of all time; one count lists over 70 versions. The power of the story itself is hard to improve upon, but I would have to say that in the 2009 3-D version, Robert Zemeckis and his team have brought some 21st-century magic to the tale which thrilled my heart and put me in a most jolly yuletide mood.
Everyone has different tastes, and I know this movie won't appeal to all who see it. My own flesh and blood, my eldest offspring, didn't especially care for it. (You're cut out of my will, you untutored whelp
). But seriously, that's just fine - there's enough variety out there for everyone, and as mentioned before, I don't want to live in a world of blah unsalted Farina where everyone thinks alike, acts alike and enjoys the selfsame things.
The science of computer rendering has become breathtaking, and this movie is no exception. The scenery and effects are superb, and this is where the 3-D glasses paid the largest dividends. There were a couple of scenes that made me wish I had taken a Dramamine™ before getting on this ride.
Getting humans to look like humans seems to be the last massive challenge, witness the "almost-there" rendering of the characters in "Beowulf" (although they must have taken extra time on Grendel's mother
). While still yielding a slightly cartoony result, this film pays loving attention to detail - Scrooge and Marley, above all, are almost beyond belief. No expense was spared to get the facial details to match the intensity of the performances.
Carrey was in fine form - I wish I could have seen video of him performing at the microphone, that rubber face of his taking on the expressions of the many characters he played. I only have one nit to pick with this film in general, which is why I deducted 1/10 of a star - and that's the fact that Carrey, for all his fine acting skill, is not a dialectician. In fact, most of the accents in the film come across as "slightly off". But that's a very minor point, and would probably only bother someone who works with languages professionally (or who hails from the UK).
The movie added some bits and pieces which never show up in the original story, largely for the benefit of kids, but they were fun to watch and didn't detract from the plot. That said, there are some effects in this movie that little people might find downright terrifying, so be sure your kids can stand some fantasy horror before packing them all in the SUV.
As for filling my heart with the Spirit of Christmas, and embodying the message of Dickens' original story, this film stands in honored company with previous versions. I was particularly enamored of the performances by George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart, but Carrey's Christmas-day conversion was just as eye-misting and heart-warming as any I have seen before.
Glad I saw this at the beginning of the Christmas season - I'll be carrying the joy of tonight's experience with me for weeks to come.
Overall Rating: 9.9 out of 10