I have very mixed feelings about the 2009 Jim Carrey/Robert Zemeckis animated version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. First of all, animated isn’t really the term I would use, since (having watched the “Making Of” extra on the DVD) the actors did the scenes wearing sci fi suits and dots on their faces so they could be imaged into a computer. It is truly paradigm shifting technology. And though it gives me the creeps a bit, it does open up tons of potential for story telling, since elements can be drawn in, rather than built.
In the bonus features they talk about realizing Dickens story fully for the first time on film because of this technology. I disagree, as this blog attests. In fact, there are times when the technology gets in the way of a good adaptation. I love that they put in some elements that usually aren’t shown, like Scrooge stifling the light of the Ghost of Christmas Past. But then he takes off and rockets around. I wonder if Disney asked Mr. Zemeckis to add 3D to this version, or if it was his idea. I wish they hadn’t done it–those are the scenes I dislike the most. The reaching out by Christmas Future, the racing down drainpipes scenes are another example. In my opinion, they take away from the story. And there are also issues of when is Scrooge able to interact/touch things and when is he not? How can he ride an icicle if he is a shadow?
And there are some really dark elements, like the Ghost of Christmas Future’s demise. Dust to dust taken to a new, slightly horrifying level. And because of this version I had to explain a straight jacket to an eight year old, which wasn’t easy or fun.
Those are the minuses. There are some pluses. A great cast. Jim Carrey is over the top, but is that surprising? And it works, for the most part. They are true to the story, and able to tell it in an interesting way. The technology works best for me in the Ghost of Christmas Present scenes (minus his death) where they are hovering over places for this visitations.
What does everyone else think? I wouldn’t discourage anyone from watching it, but I do think that they diluted some of their own magic by taking it over the top. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.