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There’s more gravy about you than grave.

Movie

A Christmas Carol
(2009)

 

With the possible exception of Polar Express (which doesn’t really have a reason to exist in any form), it’s difficult to see why Robert Zemeckis chose the form he did for his all-CGI, motion capture movies. Other than not wanting to venture outside to make them.

If we leave aside the uncanny valley aspects of the virtual cadavers that populate this retelling of Dickens’ tale, what’s most striking is that the rendering is so lacking in imagination. Sure, there’s a surfeit of virtual camera swoops and 3D giddiness… if you happen to be watching in 3D. Otherwise, the look is fairly mundane.

Jim Carrey’s Scrooge is both a proficient performance and a strong design. But elsewhere his multiple roles wear thin; the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present don’t even attempt to disguise his features, and the former is so minimalist as to make you wonder if someone forgot to include a vital character file in the final edit. This isn’t a case of multi-tasking that will go down in cinema history with Peter Sellers in Dr Strangelove; more likely it will rank with Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks!

Elsewhere, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth deliver performances that have the effect of wishing you could actually see the actors. If this is someone’s first encounter with the story, it’s likely to prove reasonably serviceable, but there are so many other superior versions out there to choose from.

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