This Week at the Movies: A Christmas Carol

Will Hazzard

It’s hard to make a story everyone knows new and interesting. When viewers see the same tale rehashed over and over again in different forms, it can be hard to get excited. While Disney’s A Christmas Carol, written for the screen and directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a story most of us could tell in our sleep, this animated adventure is a film that should not be completely overlooked. It breathes life into this classic tale of good spirit and the power of Christmas in a way few people have seen. From its creative design, superb animation and a noticeably darker take on the story, Disney’s A Christmas Carol is possibly one of the best holiday films to touch the silver screen in quite some time.

The plot is very familiar. Ebenezer Scrooge (voice by Jim Carey) is the man who hates Christmas in every aspect: the carols, the food and the Christmas spirit. He epitomizes everything cold and lonely in the world. Then, on Christmas eve, he is haunted by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley. Marley brings with him a warning that if he continues his selfish and evil ways, he will be committed to an eternity of suffering from emotional baggage in the afterlife. In order to see the evil of his ways and understand his own feelings, Scrooge is haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve: the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Through these visitations and the journey each spirit takes Scrooge on, he comes to a revelation. He becomes a changed man, one with warmth in his heart and defined by his kindness. While the story itself is quite dark, this version was considerably more so. Watching the Ghost of Christmas Present wither away to dust as the clock strikes midnight or Scrooge falling into his own grave can be a little alarming at times. Then again, Disney has been know for portraying complex and profound ideas in its children’s movies before and it’s refreshing to see them carry on the tradition.

As far as animation goes, this film is top notch. The characters can be disturbingly lifelike at times but retain the charm of animation. The sweeping camera shots are beautifully done and fill the viewer with a sense of bewilderment and fantasy. While being intentionally made as a 3–D film, nothing is lost in just simply two dimensions. The animations never feel contrite or hokey, but blend nicely with regular animation. The voice acting was superb on most fronts. However, if there was one critique it would be that Jim Carrey didn’t bring much to the movie. There wasn’t much comic relief and his role felt like a rehash of his performance as the Grinch. It wasn’t bad but didn’t bring a lot to the table either.

It would be shame to write this movie as being just another bland Christmas story for kids. At its core Disney’s A Christmas Carol has a little something for everyone. Kids will like it because it’s a Disney movie and a powerful introduction to the quintessential Yule time tale. Parents will enjoy the dark and refreshing take on the movie they’ve seen a thousand times. It’s also just a entertaining and interesting movie in terms of its visual effects and production. It’s safe to say that you won’t leave with disappointment on your face.

Contact Will Hazzard at [email protected].