'Christmas Carol' humbug

Article Published: Nov. 12, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Christmas Carol' humbug

Ebenezer Scrooge confronts his fear of chains. Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman star in 'A Christmas Carol.'

Humbug to this 3D fad. Humbug, I say!

Director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) has transformed another classic work of literature into a surprisingly two-dimensional 3D spectacle - Charles Dickens' immortal classic, A Christmas Carol.

Dickens' tale of redemption has been told in myriad manners throughout the century, since 1901, in fact. Alistair Sim epitomized the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in 1951's Scrooge. The tale saw a hilarious update in the 1988 Bill Murray comedy, Scrooged, and delighted practically everyone in 1992's A Muppet Christmas Carol.

The list continues, begging the question, "Why make another?" It spurs the obvious answer, "Because it had never been done in 3D." This film was made expressly for 3D, filled to its merry brim with vibrant sights and dazzling scenes that can leap off the screen and immerse their audience in a wondrous world of holiday cheer.

The coal in this stocking is that Boone's Regal Cinema 7 is not equipped with 3D projectors, meaning all these effects are for naught, kind of like a broken pop-up book. Two-dimensional screenings highlight the two-dimensional nature of the film, subjecting viewers to repeated scenes of our protagonist soaring over the rooftops of London - something that would seem appealing in 3D, but is boring and quickly tiresome when seen otherwise.

It lacks the balance of other 3D animated features, namely Pixar's Up, which is just as compelling on a standard screen as it would be in 3D, if not more so. Though watching Carl's balloon-tethered house drift through the heavens must have looked spectacular in 3D, Up never catered specifically to that medium, and its characters were three-dimensional as they were.

But with Beowulf and The Polar Express under his belt, Zemeckis continues his trend of disappointing motion-capture, computer-animated epics, striving to make his characters look as human as possible, though most end up looking like nightmarish sprites of "It's a Small World" animatronics - the kids especially, complete with haunting, lifeless eyes. If realism were his objective, live actors would have served him better.

But eerie animation and technological shortcomings aside, the source material is so solid that A Christmas Carol still remains a wonderfully heartwarming story.

It's a story almost everyone knows, and watching the cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge, voiced expertly by a refreshingly understated Jim Carrey (Dumb & Dumber, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), proceed on his beautiful - though sometimes visually disturbing - journey of redemption, led by three ghosts also voiced by Carrey, is an enjoyable trip through emotional territory.

And while splendid voice acting by Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Dark Knight), Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Hook) and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Robin Hood: Men in Tights), each in multiple roles, goes a long way, Zemeckis' version offers little new to a timeless classic.

Unless it's seen in 3D, this carol's best left unsung.

A Christmas Carol, rated PG for scary sequences and images, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

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