A Christmas Carol Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover for A Christmas Carol features Ebenezer Scrooge atop a fanciful London snow covered street.  I like the cover, and it does showcase the feel of the movie.  (I actually like the cover for the standard DVD a bit more than the Blu-ray cover.)   The menu for the movie is a shot of the London skyline, with what appears to be Big Ben on one side, with snow falling over the static background.   The menu is obviously in high definition, and looks spectacular, even if it does seem a bit boring for all of the animation that we get in the movie itself.

Features: 6/10

  • Behind The Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience – This behind the scenes featurette is very well done and informative.  Basically we get to see how the motion capture was done, given that this is a movie that was released in 3D.  Not only do we see the regular motion capture, but due to the 3D filming, there were additional requirements including requiring the actors to do a “T pose” before each shot, to make sure that all of the capture points are caught on tape.  It was interesting to see how the T pose made acting a tad more difficult, as the actors had to break in form before filming.  There is also a picture in picture mode that shows the video capture scenes to compare them.
  • Countdown To Christmas Interactive Calendar – This is a strange little Christmas advent calendar, where the viewer is required to pick in order the numbers of the days left before Christmas, revealing small videos of trinkets.  If you don’t go in order, Scrooge lets you know, which is almost as much fun as seeing the short videos.
  • Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling – This extra shows the thought process of the retelling in this animated, 3D movie.
  • On Set With Sammi – Sammi Hanratty is one of the stars of the movie, and we get to go into her makeup chair and watch as she is transformed for her motion capture sequences.  This is a short extra, but it is cute.
  • Deleted Scenes – There are several deleted scenes included here that are in various forms of finish.  Many are rough animations with the motion capture of the actor’s faces over the top.

The Movie: 6/10
A Christmas Carol is a story that just about everyone knows at this point.  We have seen countless presentations at this point, and the story never seems to waver, as it shouldn’t due to the fact that Charles Dickens, a master word weaver, wrote the story.  In this rendition, we are given an animated version that features the voice (and acting) of Jim Carey as Ebenezer Scrooge.  When I first saw that it was Jim Carey, I was overly worried that this could turn into a slapstick type of movie, and I am pleasantly surprised to say that it is nothing of the sort.  Jim Carey is recognizable in the movie, as Scrooge takes on many of his facial characteristics, but Carey does a great job of playing this role in a serious manner.  He does an incredible job of voice acting, and while he plays several different characters, each was done cleverly and in a manner that made the characters unique, and not at all seem like Jim Carey (it is often hard to figure out if it was actually him.)

The story this time around was darker than I am used to, and it starts off that way, with the dead body of Jacob Marley in the coffin.  The visuals are sharp and really add to the movie, as does the acting.  Jim Carey is great, as is the rest of the cast, with Colin Firth and one of my all time favorite actors Gary Oldman.   It is very, very creepy to see the animated versions of these actors, that are closely related to the looks of the actors, but at the same time, they take on a ficitional feel as well.  A short Gary Oldman version of Bob Cracthit is just downright weird.

The movie is okay, and the acting is good, but the overall feel is just slightly off for me.  The movie just lacks that heart that some of the classic versions of this story have.  We get Scrooge’s point of view, but you only partly connect with Scrooge here, and I am not sure if that is due to the animation, or the acting, or some strange combination of both, but it just didn’t resonate with me like Bill Murray’s Scrooge transformation did in Scrooged.  The story is also not really for kids, even though it plays on the Christmas Spirit (I mean did Marley’s ghost have to break his jaw to let us know how dead he really is?)  Don’t get me wrong, I kind of liked the darker tone, but I am not sure that the happy holiday message is going to be the lasting impression that little kids get when they see some of the ghosts in this movie.

Overall A Christmas Carol is a neat, sprarkly movie and a nice take on a classic, but it is just a decent movie.

Audio & Video: 9/10
This is another breathtaking Blu-ray release, and I have to say that the animation is insane.  The colors and detail are staggering, right down to the almost human like faces of the characters.  It is almost creepy how real (and at the same time, unreal) they really are.  I know that this is not a 3D Blu-ray release, but it seems to beg for it to be presented that way.  Some of the shots are just close enough to 3D that you might forget that it is not.  The audio is also brilliant, with crisp dialogue and fantastic use of all speakers.  It really adds to the feel of the movie.

Value: 6/10
I am unsure about whether we needed another adaptation of Dicken’s classic, but the presentation of this movie makes up for its unoriginality.  The feel of the movie is incredibly dark, and I would not recommend it for smaller kids, as the tone is just too heavy, even with its happy ending.  The extras are decent but they are mainly reduced to how the motion capture was done.

Overall Score 6/10