17 December 2012 | smerph
Christmas Carol adaptations are ten-a-penny (or a "dime-a-dozen" since most are from the US) but it would be a challenge to find one as awful as this one. Only the Kelsey Grammar TV Movie is arguably worse.
In addition to the lifeless, uninteresting animation, we have a bunch of pointless additions to the story that do nothing except detract from the original ideas of the novel.
The film has a leisurely pace that will bore children (presumably the intended audience). It takes 30 minutes before the Ghost of Christmas Past turns up, the opening half-hour given to setting up characters such as Old Joe and a, frankly baffling, subplot about Scrooge's lost love Belle.
Yes, Belle (voiced by Kate Winslet) plays a much larger role in this film than other adaptation. Whereas it's assumed in other adaptations that Belle moved on from Scrooge, here she seemingly became a spinster and never really got over him; emphasised in the "What If" song, which appears, jarringly, towards the end of film.
It's a baffling decision, clearly made so as to give Scrooge a "reward" for his redemption (as if that isn't a reward in itself). It robs the story of the theme of "years wasted", to have Scrooge be given a second- chance at love with Belle.
Also strange, is how the visitation from Marley happens before Scrooge retires to his sleeping quarters. This also occurs before he's visited by the two gentlemen collecting money for the poor. This creates a odd sense that Scrooge isn't even perturbed by the visitation and is able to carry on his working day, despite having just been haunted!
However, perhaps the stupidest, most ill-judged part of this film, is when Scrooge throws a bucket of water over Tiny Tim, causing him to contract pneumonia again...leading, presumably, to his death. So in this version, Scrooge is *directly* responsible for the boy's passing. This film has the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Oh, and I haven't mentioned the mice! There's two anthropomorphic mice in this who Scrooge takes a shining too. And that's the pre-redemption Scrooge, by the way. The, supposedly, nasty man is perfectly civil to the vermin long before he's "scrooged".
Positives? Well, perhaps it's worth mentioning that Scrooge finds it incredibly difficult to change his ways on Christmas morning. It's perhaps a little jarring to see an adaptation take this route, but I guess it's realistic that, after a lifetime of miserly ways, Scrooge isn't going to turn into Santa Claus instantly (a mistake that the Albert Finney adaptation was guilty of).
But that's all I can say that is good about this. I'm at a loss as to how this insipid thing attracted so many star names to lend their vocals. While I can accept that Nicolas Cage (as Marley) will appear in anything these days, I can't really explain the presence of Callow or Winslet.
Incidentally, the film now seems to be doing the rounds with the live- action sequences removed. While these are, essentially, irrelevant to the story, the removal of them means that both the start and end of the film is amateurishly abrupt. If you really must watch this, ensure it's the "full" version.