6 November 2009 | Troy_Campbell
Both children and adults will gain more from this experience than most family films.
After directing The Polar Express in 2004, Robert Zemeckis vowed to only make 3D movies using motion-capture technology from then on, never to return to traditional live action films again. What? How could he? Moviegoers everywhere were bemused at how the bloke who gave us Forrest Gump, the Back to the Future trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Contact and Cast Away could settle for some silly 3D business. Perhaps Zemeckis was smarter than us all though, his pledge to developing a decent 3D output coming half a decade earlier than most. It seems he was on to something.
It is credit to Zemeckis though that his use of 3D isn't the drawcard for this wonderfully told fable, it purely enhances it. The opening title sequence is one of the most breathtaking of the year, as we soar over - and through - the old Victorian town in which Scrooge inhabits in only one shot. It doesn't end there however, with no less than two more flying scenes and a splendid chase sequence on foot, which capably show what mo-cap and 3D are capable of. One small gripe, as was present with Up, the glasses still make everything darker and subsequently duller; especially as this picture is intentionally not well-lit to begin with.
We all know the famous Charles Dickens novel for which this is based on and Zemeckis stays faithfully close to it, unworried about making a family movie that has very few laughs. Let's face it, the story of Scrooge isn't meant to be a light-hearted laughfest. With demonic horses (complete with glaring red eyes), ghosts with broken jaws and men withering away to a skeleton, this is anything but a hoot. But is that a bad thing? Not at all. In fact it is a relief to see a movie for young (but not too young) and old that doesn't shy away from evoking feelings of fear and regret rather than always sugar-coating them with funny moments. If dealt with rightly, emotions like these can be healthy and will have a longer lasting effect on you and your kids than something that only makes you laugh.
Providing the voice of Scrooge from childhood to old-age, along with the three Ghosts of Christmas, Carrey does a fine job, even with his normal over-the-top voicing toned down a few hundred decibels. He is barely recognisable in all his parts - a result that I'm sure Zemeckis would have been aiming for - which allows the characters to stand on their own two feet rather than be a typical Carrey product. The experienced supporting cast of Oldman, Hoskins, Firth, Elwes and Wright Penn add a nice level of class to the proceedings.
The dark and morose atmosphere might at first shock, but ultimately both children and adults will gain more from this experience than most family films. See it on the big screen.
4 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)