2012年2月27日

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What the world needs now is ... well, one thing we sure don't need now is another variation of  "A Christmas Carol."
 
Jim Carrey lends his voice to this technically precise but hollow retelling of the Scrooge story

Yet every other year we get a re-imagining/remake/reboot/retelling of the Charles Dickens' story, and darned if the template doesn't hold up under the most torturous of circumstances.

Like casting Matthew McConaughey as the Scrooge character.

The latest, "Disney's A Christmas Carol," offers a duel-edged distinction. It's in 3-D and told via motion capture technology.

That's the same approach "Carol" writer/director Robert Zemeckis took with "The Polar Express" and "Beowulf," two films featuring characters whose eyes seemed to lack the spark of humanity.

Much of that is improved with the technologically enhanced  "Carol" - it's just the story itself which falls short in the humanity department.
"Carol" hews close to the source material, recalling the transformation of the cruel and calculating Scrooge (voiced by Jim Carrey) into something resembling a human being.
After a zillion retellings of "Carol" that doesn't count as a spoiler, does it?
He spars with his loyal underling Bob Cratchit (voice by Gary Oldman) before returning to his home. Once there, he is visited by three ghosts who show him the error of his ways.
Zemeckis, once an intriguing director who gave us "Back to the Future" and "Forrest Gump," has crossed over to the Dark Side of the Force like his peer, George Lucas. Both seem so deeply in love with technology that they make films without a beating, pulsing heart.
As beautiful as "Carol" may be, and it is stunning so often you're never bored, it's still an emotionally distant production. The stiff dialogue makes matters worse, even if it's spoken by a terrific vocal cast including Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins.
And since we've seen this story arc play out over and a gain, we're desperate for a curve ball to make the affair worth our while.
Carrey, who also voices a couple of the ghostly apparitions, delivers a uniquely cold vocal interpretation of Scrooge. He's restrained but sinister, and there's a craggy joy to the performance when he's finally seen the light. It's hard to fault any aspect of his contributions here, and the film would suffer immeasurably without him.
"Disney's A Christmas Carol" is also a frightening affair for young viewers. Those iconic ghosts are not to be trifled with, and young viewers will be too scared to appreciate how Scrooge becomes a better man just in time for the holiday.
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