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Holiday classic stays true to Dickens’ vision

‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens is one of the most beloved and retold stories with a timeless holiday message. Each holiday season is yet another excuse for production companies to invest in new versions of this classic holiday tale. The latest effort in bringing you the lessons of Ebenezer Scrooge comes from Academy Award-winning director Robert Zemeckis and his heavily pioneered use of motion-capture animation.

Aside from the opening shot of a page turning storybook, not much of this rendition is reminiscent of a classic Disney re-imagining. Robert Zemeckis has respectfully retained a majority of Dickens’s original vision with a dark, dreary, and brooding London atmosphere. Since it features a slew of depressing themes and ghastly images, this is one Disney endorsement that doesn’t come recommended for young children. Even less surprising is a release date that’s closer to Halloween than Christmas.

While the animation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ is truly a monumental achievement, it ultimately does more to hurt the film rather than enhance it. In addition to the breathtaking images that make up the world around Scrooge, there is a list of talented actors and voices that bring his story to life. Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman voice a majority of the characters including Scrooge and Cratchit. Surprisingly, their full potential is greatly limited by the aim of the animation.

Much like Zemeckis’s previous film, Beowulf, the animated characters of ‘A Christmas Carol’ are designed to look extremely similar to the actors who voice them. With well known actors such as Carrey and Oldman, it’s frustrating to experience a film without their physical presence and emotions. Unlike voicing furry creatures or dancing robots, these human-like images amount to nothing more than a video game quality that still struggles to bring out true human emotion. With a story about a crude man’s glorious redemption, a suppression of emotion is hardly the route you want to take.

Even with the incredible environment created by pristine animated visuals, Robert Zemeckis’s version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ falls short of grasping the powerful emotions of its main characters. This is even more disheartening considering all the actors could have delivered a gripping live-action performance on top of their already satisfying voice work. While the best use of motion-capture rests in ‘Beowulf’s’ vivid depiction of a fantasy world, the art of using it in replace of live actors still holds little to no significance. Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is sadly a lifeless depiction of one of the most spirited holiday stories of all time.

Letter Grade: C-

Rated PG for scary sequences and images.

Runtime: 96 min.

Voices by: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, and Robin Wright Penn

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

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