Truth be told, I was not anticipating much with this film. It was motion capture and seemed like a vanity project for Carrey to show off.
And yet, the motion capture was not as distracting as I expected. The character designs had an old storybook look.
And yes, it is an opportunity for Carrey to show off, but this film works in his favor. Carrey provides the voice of Scrooge and all three Ghosts. The film has some of the most imaginative takes on the ghosts, as only animation allows.
The Ghost of Christmas Present has a flame for a head, symbolic of the birth of hope (at least to me) to be mined from the past. While the Ghost of Christmas Present appears very much like other incarnations in his wreath crown and red robe, Carrey plays him with a wicked glee. This is a powerful component of the Ghost that can often be missed. He enjoys sticking it to Scrooge by using his own words against him. The best adaptions of the story remember this.
Marley is spot on. He is downright horrifying, as is fitting to the story. If your Marley is not fear inducing, you are getting it all wrong. And here, Marley’s arrival is intense.
The performances are all effective. Oldman’s Marley is grim, angry and desperate. His Bob Cratchit kindly and gentle. Colin Firth brings warmth and joy to Fred. But Carrey? He shines as Scrooge. He brings the right amount of fear and bitterness to Scrooge. His ghosts echo his voice ever so slightly, as if each ghost has a direct link to Scrooge.
Post conversion Scrooge hits all the right notes. He is giddy, joyful and full of hope. There is a glint of childish mischievousness in him as he plays off the expectations of those around him and then surprises them.
The one sore spot for me is that there two absurd and over the top effects sequences. The first has Scrooge rocketing through the sky after extinguishing the ghost of Christmas Past. The second is where Scrooge shrinks and grows while trying to outrun the horses of the Ghost of Christmas Future.
But overall, writer/director Robert Zemeckis and his cast seem to understand the story, and put together a pretty effective version of the tale. They get the horror element, the scary aspect of the story, but also the hope and redemption. I was pleasantly surprised with this one.
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