Monday, November 28, 2011

chirstmas carol

One thing's for certain with Robert Zemeckis's latest attempt at motion-capture CGI animation, kids need not apply. I have had conversations with fellow critics and the conclusion I've come to concerning children and Disney's A CHIRSTMAS CAROL  is that while some elements may indeed frighten some kids, the overall complaint will be that it's just too boring.
If you've seen any incarnation of Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" the best way to describe this latest attempt is to call it a stripped down non-inventive take on the classic Christmas story that wears on too long and is just plain dull. By the time I hit the Ghost of Christmases Yet To Come I was ready to check out, I knew what was coming and wasn't expecting any deviation. I won't say I was ever bored beyond reproach, but I was never moved and certainly never felt a kinship with any of the characters whose dull and lifeless eyes and facial features are far from inviting. The putty-like facial issues and non-responsive eyes have flummoxed Zemeckis since The Polar Express in 2004 and there is very little sign of improvement here. Considering the eyes are the gateway to the soul, a lot is missing when the spark isn't there.

Where the film does knock it out of the park is in its visuals beyond human attributes. The atmosphere, the set design, the lighting and the overall appearance of A Christmas Carol is absolutely perfect. The golden flicker of candlelight glowing in the darkness is perfectly complimented by the frigid and foggy winter nights of the Dickensian mid-1800s. Of course, the mood of the film is never indicative of its appealing settings.
The characters seem to walk through the world oblivious to their surroundings, as if one is not a part of the other. Being a motion capture feature that is entirely true as actors act out their scenes, have their performances captured in a computer, which are then inserted into these photo realistic environments. While this doesn't take away from the visual appeal, it does hit a snag when it comes to connecting to the audience and convincing them they are watching a fully fleshed out feature.
Jim Carrey brought as much as he could to the character of Ebenezer Scrooge, but in the end it felt like you could cast anyone in the role, which Zemeckis proves with Robin Wright Penn as Scrooge's young love, Belle. Zemeckis can change the appearance of any actor to match the look he wants and as a result Penn is unrecognizable and Carrey takes on Scrooge at five different ages as well as plays all three ghosts. Considering Zemeckis did very little with Carrey's natural talents for physical performance, and there was very little in the way of comedy, he could have snatched up anyone off the street to dryly humbug their way through this story.
In all honesty, everything seems secondary to the attempted leaps in technology in this film. Zemeckis has made statements as to his intentions with the story such as how the three ghosts are alter egos of Scrooge, the importance in accuracy of Scrooge's appearance and the overall hyper-reality of it all. If the ghosts are alter-egos of Scrooge they only go as far as to mirror his appearance (outside of the Ghost of Christmas Future who is just a pointing shadow) and, like I said, the film is extraordinary visually, but it takes more than good looks to make a good movie.
From the inexplicable hissing of the Ghost of Christmas Past to the annoying and boisterous laugh of the Ghost of Christmas Present, Disney's A Christmas Carol has no understood reason to exist. The only thing unique about it was the way in which it was made and the fact it manages to be so boring. Neither of which appeals to me too greatly despite being a fan of Dickens's story.

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