Some things to know about Jim Carrey and the new animated version of A Christmas Carol.
1.) It's out this week (ie. early November). I'm all for whacking on Jonah Lewie's 'Stop The Cavalry' asap, but even I struggle to get festive this early.
2.) It's no longer Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. It's now Disney's A Christmas Carol. Normally this would inspire me to write something about how evil corporations are taking over our culture with no thought for our heritage etc etc but point 3) stopped me.
3.) You see, Disney's A Christmas Carol is rather good. Director Robert Zemeckis earnt his seasonal stripes with The Polar Express but this is even more yule-tastic. It's full-on festive Victoriana - snowy streets, candle-lit rooms, roaring fires and street urchins singing carols whilst holding lanterns. Feelgood is not in short supply.
4.) But what adds another level of interest is that it's also true to its literary roots as a ghost story. The spirits that visit Scrooge (Jim Carrey) are really quite haunting, if not scary (esp. The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come). Scrooge's apparition of his own death takes things to very bleak, hugely surreal, places and it was then that some kiddywinks in the audience started to freak out and head for the door. I loved it. Also true to the original text, the dialogue is flowery and old-fashioned. It was another thing that bemused a few littl'uns but for me, a surprisingly daring touch for a 2009 blockbuster.
5.) The animation, done by performance capture, is impressive generally although 'humans' still look a little odd, a touch lifeless. Carrey's Scrooge overcomes this by being beautifully sinewy and slithery but supporting roles such as Colin Firth's Fred (Scrooge's nephew) is stodgy. It looks like Colin Firth but if Colin Firth had been drawn by one of those ropey portrait sketchers you get in London's Leicester Sq. Luckily the glorious flow of the movie, all creepy angles and aerial shots, makes up for this.
6.) The result? It looks good, it feels good and it scares the crap outta you. There's a quote for the poster. The Christmas cheer is infectious but the haunting undertones are what really hit your heart hard.