‘A Christmas Carol’ (2009) – 7/10

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I don’t know why it has taken me so long to watch this film. I have been recommended to watch this for the past 5 years, and still had not got round to seeing it. So yesterday, I decided to force myself to watch this, and got mad at myself for not having seen it sooner. It was wicked! I love Jim Carrey. I love Christmas films. I love animations. This film was the ideal film for me – I just wish I had seen it in the cinema, rather than seeing the animation for the first time on my laptop via a poor quality version I ha d found online…

‘A Christmas Carol’ is based on the 1843 Christmas novella of the same name by Charles Dickens. It is about a banker called Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), whose business partner, Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman), visits Scrooge on the 7th anniversary of his death in the form of a tortured soul wearing the chains he forged in life from his selfishness and greed, who has to roam the Earth as part of his punishment. He warns Scrooge that 3 more ghosts will visit him (the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present  and Christmases Yet to Come – all voiced by Jim Carrey). As warned, these ghosts emerge, and show Scrooge the error of his ways, and what will happen if he does not change.

This story has been told many times, in many different forms. I think this is partly why I was so hesitate to see this movie. Consequently, I think because I love the ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ (1992) that much, I feared that another film might replace this – so held back on watching this Carrey version. Nonetheless, I feel that the reason that the Muppets’ version resonates with me so much is because of the memories tied to this film, rather than it being a stand-out version of this story.

This aside, everything I was told about ‘A Christmas Carol’ (a film directed by Robert Zemeckis – who directed the ‘Polar Express’ (2004)) held true. It was a thoroughly entertaining kids film, incredibly animated. It blew my mind how, at having researched this movie, many voices the likes of Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman perform. They are such diverse and strong actors. Now arguably, Jim Carrey has played very similar roles throughout his filming career (which includes goofball characters in films like ‘Liar, Liar’ (1997), ‘Dumb & Dumber’ (1994), and ‘The Mask’ (1994)). However, he does have an emotional side to him, which cuts through the sometimes too heavy humour he is known for (seen in films like ‘The Number 23’ (2007), and ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’ (2004)). This is evident in ‘A Christmas Carol’, and is why I think I liked it so much. I was half expecting to see Carrey voice a Scrooge version of The Grinch (a character he plays in Ron Howard’s 2000 film ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’), but was happily surprised to see his subtle, humbling humour enacted, as opposed to his overt humour, that would have overpowered more important themes and factors in the film, and therefore showed him in a different light.

I thought the animation was amazing! As said above, I wish I had seen this in the cinema, to get the full effect of how great these characters’ features actually were. I thought that the ghosts were terrifying – to the point where, had I been a child, I would have been scared shitless. Then again, I was terrified by certain scenes from old Disney films, like ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (1959)… Anyway, I thought the animation was that good (even without seeing it in HD) that I researched how it was created, and like many films now, this is done through facial recognition. The actor’s have small dots applied to their faces’ and filmed by a series of cameras positioned around them. This is then applied to the face of the animation, making the animations’ expressions look believable and real – which is arguably why I like the animation so much, as Jim Carrey has such an expressive face, which works perfectly on Scrooge.

I liked the humour. It was not overboard, as the theme of this film is a sombre one, and this would have killed the overall purpose of the film. The humorous parts that came through added just the right edge to this film. Similarly, I liked how dark it was. The Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, amongst other scenes, were gothic and disturbingly good. The cast was strong, and full of distinct characters (despite many actors doing numerous voices in this). Overall, it was recreated very tastefully, and goes to show that much can still be done with a simple story (despite it already having been done). I will definitely put it on my list of Christmas films to watch year in year out – I am just gutted it took me so long to watch!

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