Toon Talk: Disney's A Christmas Carol - Nov 17, 2010

Toon Talk: Disney's A Christmas Carol
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
November 17, 2010
Kirby reviews the Blu-Ray release of last year's stop motion animated feature Disney's A Christmas Carol.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt


A Christmas Carol

Disney Blu-Ray
MPAA Rating: PG

Bah  Hambug

Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle�s Sherlock Holmes and William Shakespeare�s Hamlet, Charles Dickens� Ebenezer Scrooge is one character from classic English literature who has had more than his fair share of cinematic incarnations. From feature films to television productions to animated cartoons, Scrooge has been portrayed by everyone from Albert Finney to Vanessa Williams to Mr. Magoo.

Following earlier versions starring Mickey Mouse and the Muppets, Disney took another crack at the yuletide chestnut last holiday movie season, and was even so bold as to title it Disney�s A Christmas Carol (now available on Disney DVD and Blu-ray). Yet, despite that family friendly stamp of approval, this Carol is not for the little ones with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.

Dickens� original book was billed as a �ghost story� after all, and writer-director Robert Zemeckis (Academy Award winner for Forrest Gump) not only doesn�t shy away from that fact, he whole-heartedly embraces it. This is one spooky Christmas Carol, and parents should heed its PG rating.

Altered title aside, Dickens purists will be happy to note how faithful the film is to the original text, with dialogue lifted straight from the page. However, Zemeckis saw fit to pad the oft-told tale with superfluous action sequences obviously designed to exploit the theatrical engagement�s 3-D, which will be lost on all who have not shelled out for the new 3-D televisions and Blu-ray players.

This Carol�s main reason d�etre is yet another chance for Zemeckis to show off the motion capture process that he first used in another Christmas movie, The Polar Express. Like that film, Carol isn�t too successful in making viewers forget that they are watching something out of the ordinary; the inherent falseness of mo-cap is just too unavoidable when there is this much of it.

The all-star cast, led by Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three Spirits of Christmas (and also including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Robin Wright Penn, Cary Elwes and Bob Hoskins), are vaguely recognizable under their virtual make-up. Vain attempts are made to inject life into these digital doppelgangers, at the expense of injecting any life into this all-too-familiar story.

Simply put, this is one Christmas Carol that didn�t need to be reprised.

Blu-ray bonus features include �Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience�, a picture-in-picture viewing option (with or without Zemeckis� audio commentary) that allows you to see the �raw� mo-cap footage alongside the completed film. With its stark white stage and black jumpsuit-clad actors, this footage looks like something out of Tron Meets Sleeper.

Other extras include a rather juvenile �making of� featurette (�Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling�), a �Countdown to Christmas� Interactive Calendar (in other words: a digital advent calendar), six deleted scenes and a Timon and Pumbaa cartoon (commercial) shilling, you guessed it, 3-D Blu-rays and TVs.

Coming Soon:

  • Get Tangled with Rapunzel and friends in the latest Disney animated fairy tale, in theaters November 24.
  • It�s a Fantasia double feature as the 1940 classic and the 2000 sequel make their Disney Blu-ray debuts on November 30.
  • Also on November 30, take a look behind the curtain with the DVD debuts of three Disney documentaries: The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story, Waking Sleeping Beauty and Walt & El Groupo.

Toon Talk Ratings: C

Discuss It

-- Kirby C. Holt
-- Logos by William C. Searcy, Magic Bear Graphics

Kirby is a lifelong Disney fan and film buff. He is also an avid list maker and chronic ellipsis user ... In addition to his Toon Talk reviews, Kirby is the creator of Movie Dearest, a blog for movie fans.

Took Talk: Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt is posted whenever there's something new to review.

The opinions expressed by our Kirby C. Holt, and all of our columnists, do not necessarily represent the feelings of or any of its employees or advertisers. All speculation and rumors about the future plans of the Walt Disney Company are just that - speculation and rumors - and should be treated as such.

-- Posted November 17, 2010