Countdown to Claus: A Christmas Carol (2009)

When did Scrooge become a zombie.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (Gary Oldman) and his cheery nephew (Colin Firth). But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it’s too late.

I don’t know why I even put that synopsis there considering everybody knows and loves this story. However, Robert Zemeckis wants to do something totally cool, hip and different to this story: put the whole story in 3-D. Even better, with motion-capture. Yikes.

I still don’t understand why Zemeckis has become so obsessed with this whole gimmick of having these computer-animations look like real people and also be in 3-D, although I do have to say that it does look quite pretty. The film looks stunning with a lot of great transitions from one are to the other and plenty of other times where I felt like I was on this adventure with Scrooge and although I didn’t see it in 3-D, I do have to say that it was stunning as it was.

However, I don’t understand why anybody, let alone an Oscar-winning director, would ever get the bright idea of adapting a Charles Dickens novel that is about 150 years old into 3 dimensions. It also didn’t help that all of the CG characters look pretty freakin’ creepy especially when they’re smiling or crying, because they just look like their constipated. Don’t get me wrong this flick is almost like a painting brought to life, in some ways, but if you look too closely you can almost see all of the characters eyes look flat or dead.

The other problem with this gimmick is the fact that the film feels more like a spectacle rather than actually giving us the heart that lies behind this beautiful story. ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a wonderful tale that should and probably will be around for the next 200 years because it just gives off this positive and loving energy that Christmas gives to everybody during this wonderful season. It’s a timeless classic but the film doesn’t seem too hell-bent on making that story come to life here and rather just use it as the back-bone for making it all look pretty.

There was also barely any comedy and when the film tries to be sly and witty with it’s little side comments, it fails and just seems flat. Also, the film can be pretty dark and the times when I saw the three ghosts pop-up, I was more freaked out rather than intrigued. I mean just take a look at Christmas Past. Don’t tell me that doesn’t make you wanna wet your bed on Christmas Eve!

While reading the opening credits, I was excited to see names like Gary Oldman, Robin Wright, and Cary Elwes were all going to be in the movie but it wasn’t long until I realized that this was Jim Carrey‘s show, and those stars are barely ever in it. Carrey is good at playing these animated characters, especially all of the Spirits but when he plays Scrooge it seems like he is just either yelling or mumbling something under his breath. He plays half of the characters here and he at least had me entertained.

Consensus: A Christmas Carol is very good to look at, a fun roller-coaster, and features a great performance from Jim Carrey, but the film feels more like a spectacle that loses the heart, humor, and overall feeling that the original Charles Dicken novel fed off so well. However, if you want a nice little holiday treat, that is in 3-D, check it out.



  1. I still don’t get the whole motion capture gimmick. Honestly. Using CG to make things look as life like as possible. Why?

    Nothing about this film really appeals to me. Think I’ll stick to my classics for my Christmas film session.

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally, somebody else who enjoyed this film as much as I did! I thought this film was boring, a mean-spirited, lifeless chunk of cinema with more thought for “dazzling” the audience than moving them on an emotional level. I agree with you Dan, this isn’t a story that really lent itself to action-packed 3D, nor is it one which required a lot of Zemeckisization – the addition of cool camera shots and the overuse of said shots to tell a simple story – but they went ahead and did it anyway.

    I did think Jim Carrey was okay as Scrooge, but once more his overacting did detract from the end product. I kept waiting for him to slip into “zany” mode again.

    I truly hope Zemeckis returns to live-action someday. He was great at that. This performance capture stuff… not so much.

    • This performance capture stuff is crap and really doesn’t make any of these characters look real, they just look more like a bunch of zombies and creeps. Thanks dude!

  3. Nice review.
    Honestly, from the first time I heard of this movie all I could think was, “this is just an excuse to put Carey on screen again after Grinch and for Zemeckis to do his damn cgi again.
    Sure it looks good and Carey is almost always entertaining and all that blah, blah… but this was a cheap gimmicky excuse to rehash this classic that I’m fairly certain by now Dickens would be going “Please, just let this tired old story die!” if he knew how many rehashes of it there have been just on film alone! 😀
    Could not bring myself to watch it before, still have no inclination to watch this. Thanks anyway, at least I know it wasn’t a total bit of buggery.

  4. Mmmmmm can’t agree with you here. For once, my thoughts entirely line up with Roger Ebert’s, his review sums up my opinion perfectly haha. Same with the Polar Express, love that movie.

    Nice write up though!

    • I just didn’t think that this had any of the real heart and spirit of the original but I guess we just seem to agree to disagree on this one. Sorry Matt! Thanks though my man!

  5. Yeah, I have no desire to see this one. Zemeckis doesn’t have too much of my confidence after this one and the horrible Mars needs Moms. It was after MNM that the studios dropped his project “Yellow Submarine”.

    Perhaps he should go back to live-action film like Back to the Future and Castaway. His animation hasn’t been too great after Polar Express, imo.

    • He has just sort of got a little too far in over his head and that’s why he needs to go back to what he was doing way back when. He won an Oscar dammit! Thanks!

  6. CG is not normally an issue with me. It seems it’s just with classic stories (or Jim Carrey). Great review. I think a 5 was generous. I will stick with the Muppets….

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