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A Christmas Carol

In 2009, filmmaker Robert Zemeckis brought his unique animated motion capture style to a new version of Dickens A CHRISTMAS CAROL that is full of visual treasures, but little else.

Zemeckis uses the same animation style that worked so perfectly in "The Polar Express" five years before. If anything, the rough edges of the technique are more polished and realistic than in the earlier film.

So what went wrong?

The film is mostly faithful to the Dickens book, even in its old world dialogue, but takes some very strange diversions, including a long head scratching sequence in which Scrooge is shrunk to mouse size and rambles through the sewers of London. It's a shameless sequence to show off the 3D effects and is out of touch with the scenes around it like some ham-handed "Honey I Shrunk the Scrooge" padding.

Jim Carrey is a likeable actor and takes on multiple parts in the story. His Scrooge is the strongest. He is palpable in both his hate for the holiday and his ultimate redemption.

Carrey also plays the three visiting ghosts and makes some choices that derail the film. His Ghost of Christmas present is a floating candle-like creature that's the most interesting of the three, but he adds some strange movement to the character that's an odd fit for the setting and speaks in a lilting voice that's hard to understand. His Ghost of Christmas present is excruciatingly unlikable, with a constant, long belly laugh that wears out its welcome after one minute. That makes the twenty minute middle of the film almost unbearable as the loud laughter goes on and on and on....and on......and on.....

Once the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives and Scrooge finds his Christmas Spirit, the film regains the snow covered ground beneath its feet and is truly enjoyable.

Gary Oldman is great as both Bob Cratchett and Marley and Colin Firth is very good as Scrooge's nephew Fred.

The visual effects are incredible and photo realistic throughout, although Zemeckis seems to be a bit too enamored of flying us around London at every opportunity.

Alan Silverstri's music score fills the film and is a strong point.

So what is A Christmas Carol? It's beautiful to look at, loud, VERY scary for kids, loyal to Dickens 80% of the time and horribly off track when it isn't, a 90 minute showcase for the best and worst of Jim Carrey and ultimately a major disappointment from a very good director.

We'll give it a C and a bah humbug.

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