05 November 2009
At the movies: A Christmas Carol 3D.
It's a classic story, to be sure.
An enduring facet of popular culture, Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. It's been remade, adapted, and reshaped countless times over (is there any sitcom from the 70s or 80s that hasn't had their Christmas Carol episode?), showing no signs of slowing down or becoming irrelevant. But what time couldn't do, Robert Zemeckis and his team of motion capture engineers may very well accomplish, because this new presentation manages to be boring and tumultuous. At the same time.
We know the drill, as Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) faces down three ghosts in order to be terrified into accepting the spirit of Christmas so Tiny Tim can be saved and the social contract can be upheld. And adapter/director Zemeckis makes a point of including some aspects of the original Dickens that usually get excised from adaptations (my favorite being the two feral children, Want and Ignorance, attending the Ghost of Christmas Present; one of the only redeeming facets of the picture), so that's nice.
But at the same time, every story beat seems contrived to set up a 3-D effective theme park ride, soaring through London skies or racing through the streets or surfing on an icicle (which reminds me, can we have a moratorium on extreme sports in film, because it's supremely played out). Because nothing is truer to the spirit of Charles Dickens than surfing.
Far from a family classic or an endearing touchstone for holiday seasons to come, this new take on A Christmas Carol is just a mess. The Jacob Marley and Christmas Future ghosts are way too scary for little kids, but the consistently-Dickensian language is what led to the most confusion and apprehension amongst the younger audience at the screening I attended.
For me, it's just an empty pile of pixels that aims to approximate Christmas. It's still better than The Polar Express, but that's not saying much. To put it another way: if I hadn't already seen I Love You, Philip Morris, this would be the point I gave up on Jim Carrey. But I have seen ILYPM, so let's just bypass the digital speed bump and move along, shall we?