A Christmas Carol – Blu-Ray Review

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again. The bombardment of the holiday season hits from all sides: on the radio, in the shopping malls, on TV, and also most likely in every local theater doing Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been done in every imaginable media, even with The Muppets, so when Disney announced its version of the tale with Robert Zemeckis’s motion capture spin, it seemed like overkill. But you’ve never seen the story like this before.

Just like Zemeckis showcased Tom Hanks in The Polar Express with multiple motion capture roles, A Christmas Carol stars Jim Carrey as Scrooge, as well as a number of other characters. The story remains true to the story you already know and love: Scrooge is a wealthy miser who hates Christmas and his family. On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his deceased partner, Jacob Marley, who tells him that due to his selfish lifestyle, he will be visited by three spirits during what promises to be a very long night.

That very long night is more like a Disney theme park ride, thanks to Zemeckis. Scrooge is whisked through the night sky with the Ghost of Christmas Past, as he revisits his more cheerful younger self. In one of the most visually stunning scenes in the film, The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge on a journey through his town, bustling with life and Christmas cheer, all while remaining seated on the floor in his home. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, in what are always the most frightening of scenes in the story, chases Scrooge around the streets in a carriage, cracking the whip at the old man.

Of course all the familiar supporting characters are there – Bob Cratchitt, Tiny Tim, Mr. Fezziwig – but the story really is about the internal struggles of Scrooge. He is alone on Christmas, no family or friends, but it seems to be of his own doing. He is selfish and appears to be happy being along. How many of us have felt that way on Christmas? But through the events of the night, he realizes how much he has to be thankful for – his successful career, his loving nephew, his faithful employees – and softens his heart to the world on Christmas Day.

Since beginning his career with roles such as Ace Ventura and Fire Marshall Bill on In Living Color, Carrey has garnered praise for his more dramatic turns, like in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But for some reason, many people are turned off by his comedic antics and thereby ignore his movies altogether.  Even though he plays a miserable miser, Carrey is the life of the movie. His contortionist facial expressions are a perfect match for a grumpy old man like Scrooge. The rest of the cast you may not recognize when in their motion capture roles, but include such favorites as Bob Hoskins, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn, Colin Firth, and Gary Oldman.

A Christmas Carol is a holiday classic for a reason. While you might have a Scrooge-like attitude when beginning the movie, the story is still so heartwarming that you’ll be full of hope by the time it’s finished. Jim Carrey’s energetic acting and Robert Zemeckis’ energetic storytelling and eye for stunning visuals is the perfect modern interjection into the story that we’ve all grown up with, and grown to love.

While I never had the chance to experience A Christmas Carol in theaters and in 3-D, the Blu-ray seems the next best way to view the film. The visuals are glorious, the sound is sharp.

Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling – Hosted by Mrs. Fezziwig, this featurette goes behind the motion capture process. We’re treated to plenty of footage of the actors in their mo-cap suits, which is always fun to see. She also talks about how similar this adaption is to the original novella. (14:43)

Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar – An advent calendar that shows a new image on each day of December.

On Set with Sammi – One of the youngest members of the cast, Sammi Hanratty, takes us through the make-up process and through a day onset. (1:52)

Deleted Scenes – There are 6 deleted scenes that can be viewed with or without an introduction by Robert Zemeckis. These are all scenes that weren’ t missed in the movie, most of them just show how grumpy Scrooge is. (8:39)

Discover Blu-Ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa – This new commercial for Blu-ray 3D looks like it was made in the ’80s. The animation is poor, the script is a bit ridiculous. It reminded me of the video in Jurassic Park that showed where they got the dino DNA. (4:23)

Learn How To Take Your Movies On the Go

TrailersDisneynature Oceans, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas, The Search for Santa Paws, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Fantasia & Fantasia 2000, The Incredibles on Blu-ray.

With as many other adaptations on film of A Christmas Carol that are out there, this new CGI version will become a part of the regular holiday rotation in my house. It’s full of fun, energy, plenty of scares, and ultimately, the hope that good things happen on Christmas day. It’s a celebration of the season and a holiday classic.

Walt Disney Video presents A Christmas Carol. Directed by: Robert Zemeckis. Starring: Jim Carrey, Bob Hoskins, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright-Penn, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth. Written by: Robert Zemeckis, based on the novella by Charles Dickens. Running time: 98 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray and DVD: November 16, 2010.

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