Disney's A Christmas Carol: Movie Review
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One can hardly think of Christmas tales and not recall one of the most beloved stories, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Those who haven't read the classic novella, and base their perceptions on the light-hearted versions of Mickey's Christmas Carol or The Muppet Christmas Carol will not be ready for this new film.
Following the book very closely, director Robert Zemeckis exposes the dark story beneath the heart-warming moments. Frankly, it's a bit scary. Looking back at the book, readers will find that the original story in itself is pretty frightening. Beyond the fact that this old miser is visited by ghosts, the story and this new movie feature the characters Ignorance and Want (two demon-looking children), other haunting ghosts, and zombie-like creatures. The film's outstanding cast and animation is overshadowed by the non-festive feeling you have after watching it.
The Movie in a Minute
“Marley was dead: to begin with.” Seven years post his business partner’s death, old Ebenezer Scrooge remains the unchanged – hungry for money, selfish toward his fellow man. Christmas Eve alters him when the ghost of dead-as-a-doorknob Marley appears. Scrooge is then haunted by three spirits – the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. Reluctant to face his past and the future that lies before him, Scrooge pleads for a second chance, to make things right again.
The Good, and the Bad
Much credit goes to the incredible cast. Jim Carrey becomes the incredulous old Scrooge, all while bringing some of the other characters to life -- including the three Ghosts. Gary Oldman was on triple duty as well, voicing Bob Cratchit, Marley, and Tiny Tim. Colin Firth as Scrooge's nephew Fred, Bob Hoskins as Mr. Fezziwig, and Cary Elwes (Princess Bride) as most of the townspeople round out the stellar cast.
The team at ImageMovers Digital deserve recognition for the spectacular animation in A Christmas Carol. Famous for Polar Express, ImageMovers Digital creates real-life imaging in animation form. Even before the opening credits are finished, onlookers are treated to a look at London in those days as they fly through the city. One of the moments that captured the religious tone of the book is of Christmas morning during Scrooge's journey with the Ghost of Christmas Present. As Scrooge looks out over the city, a close-up shot of a Cross reveals the top of a church, where a crowd is walking in for a service. He fondly remarks that it is "quite beautiful".
The scary nature of the film makes it unsuitable for small children. At one point, Marley unwraps his head, revealing his mangled, broken jaw, which can't seem to keep his blackened tongue inside his mouth. As mentioned earlier, the boy and girl (Ignorance and Want) are menacing creatures who crawl out from under the Ghost of Christmas Present's robe to haunt Scrooge. Dickens' and the director are making a valid point by including these "things", warning him and us -- "beware of them both". However, Zemeckis goes a little over the top.
Although all of these disgusting moments are detailed in Dickens' book, it just doesn't seem to match the tone of the film's trailer. Going into the theater, moviegoers will expect that A Christmas Carol is an innocently sweet film, but it's much darker than that.
In the End
Parents should read the novella so they understand going into the movie how dark it is at times. Beyond the scary moments, the film (like the book) touches deep issues of arrogance and greed. It's not void of scriptural influence either. This movie critic's favorite moment is when we're encouraged to "remember on Christmas Day [the One] who makes lame beggars walk and blind men see."
Note: A few obscenities appear in the film. A man in a group talking about Scrooge's death snorts what appears to be snuff, which was not unheard of in that day.
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