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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > Holiday > Crime > British Classic > Supernatural > Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009/Jim Carrey - Robert Zemeckis version/Disney Blu-ray 3D [Blu-ray 3D disc only])

Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009/Jim Carrey - Robert Zemeckis version/Disney Blu-ray 3D [Blu-ray 3D disc only])

 

3-D Picture: B+     2-D Picture: (*)     Sound: A-     Extras: C+     Feature: C+

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: This review only covers the Blu-ray 3D portion of a four-disc set Disney is issuing that includes this 3D disc exclusively.  We will cover the rest of the set upon arrival in a second review.  * The 2-D version will be held for the second part of this review.

 

 

Disney has issued their first title in the new Blu-ray 3D format and with a strong catalog of choices, they have chosen the Robert Zemeckis version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey voicing several of the characters, including Ebenezer Scrooge, as released for the 2009 holiday.  It is also the third of his motion capture features and the second to be Christmas-themed.

 

The story has been told more often on film than almost any other, with Scrooge being a cold, heartless tightwad who will either see the light or die alone and quietly.  Carrey voices all the versions of Scrooge and in a Kubrick/Dr. Strangelove move, also has Carrey play the ghosts that visit him ala Peter Sellers.  Carrey does a good job and this is some of his best work in many years and his second Christmas feature after the underrated, live action How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  Also adding voices are Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Julian Holloway, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Bob Hoskins and some up and coming younger actors. 

 

Like Polar Express, Zemeckis wants to create a surreal world out of the story elements, but this far more familiar tale is trickier to do new things with and though this project is very ambitious, the results are sometimes very good.  However, they are not great and since he follows the Polar Express approach too much, it becomes like a formula work.  If it is predictable, he at least tries to add variances to the classic and is not afraid to be a little dark with the material thematically at times.  All involved obviously love the original book, but this Christmas Carol does not go into as many new directions story-wise as the 3D technology goes visually, so the result is entertaining when you watch, but this does not stay with you like the 1951 British version might.  Still, it is a grade-A alternative version and that is the best that can be hoped for, but I can see why this mixed film got a mixed reaction at the box office.

 

Yet, I could see this becoming increasingly popular in its own right, simply because it did not reach the entire audience it definitely has out there that has not found it yet.  Even if it is not always successful, it is interesting, even when it does not work.  It may not be for everybody, but this Robert Zemeckis A Christmas Carol offers a new take on the book and the 19th Century England long gone and that alone makes it worth your time to see at least once, especially in 3D.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution digital High Definition image is as impressive in depth and other dimensional qualities as the previous Blu-ray 3D titles we have looked at, but the motion capture system used here is the first time any Blu-ray 3D has featured the technology.  Detail and depth are not bad at all in the 3D version, with Zemeckis once again finding some fun trickery to with the format as he did with Beowulf and Polar Express (both reviewed elsewhere on this site), but there are some improvements in his approach and the technology is faster and offers more detail.  Robert Presley is the Director of Photography for the third time in a row for these motion capture projects and is obviously doing his best to make each one work better.  The 2D version should be very good of course and will be covered in the next review, but this was meant for 3D and should be seen that way and especially that way first.

 

However, much work still needs to be done after the motion capture information is gathered.  What you see has many animators going over it; it is not like an instant image as you see it.  Though he intends a certain surreal style, there is still a sense of the limited in the detail and speed of the digital animation overall, but it does not have as many of the problems (bad timing, speed limits) as the previous releases.  Color is not bad, though it is also limited at times by styling and the fact that digital High Definition has not totally conquered the color spectrum film still rules.  However, Video Black, Video White and some colors (like Blue) do stand out.

 

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) lossless 5.1 mix is the biggest highlight here, with an impressive sound field that is rich, articulate, detailed and expands the narrative in clever ways.  At its best, the film was issued in the Sonics-DDP sound format when it was presented in IMAX and that is the soundmaster used here.  This is well-recorded, does not overdue the ambient sound as Polar Express had, ahs some solid bass and takes advantage of more possibilities than Beowulf presented, so expect some demo moments and a very consistent presentation.  Alan Silvestri’s score is not bad either.

 

The only exclusive extra on the Blu-ray 3D disc is Mr. Scrooge’s Wild Ride, a 3D presentation that shows how the technology was implemented.  You can read about the other extras in the second review.

 

When released theatrically, the film did mixed business, not unlike the last big budget version of the classic tale, Richard Donner’s underrated 1988 Bill Murray comedy Scrooged.  The power of the story works in projects large and small and this will not be the last version, but at least Zemeckis (who also wrote the screenplay) and company can say they added a unique interpretation to the cannon of adaptations.

 

Hopefully, two Christmas-themed releases will be enough.

 

 

You can see more Blu-ray 3D reviews elsewhere on this site.  In the meantime, be looking for the rest of our coverage of this four-disc set when we return…

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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