A Christmas Carol (2009)

<strong class="MovieTitle">A Christmas Carol</strong> (2009)

(On TV, December 2018) I’m as surprised as you are to find out that, somehow, I missed out on a big-budget CGI movie for almost a decade. Of course, A Christmas Carol has two disadvantages—it falls squarely in the Christmas Movie Ghetto of films that are only shown 25 days of the year then fall out of mind for eleven months, and it also shares a title and plot with roughly ten other movies all adapting Dicken’s classic. This being said, there isn’t another A Christmas Carol like this one, and there probably will never be—this is the CGI version of the story, using circa-2009 CGI which was fine for inanimate objects and ghosts but not so much human characters. The camera makes showy moves through Dickensian London, but the attempt to recreate human actors falls squarely into the uncanny valley. There’s a difference between attempting stylized human characters (something that most animated movies do) and actually trying to recreate human actors and A Christmas Carol sadly goes for the latter. Script-wise, this take on the story is significantly darker than you’d expect from previous versions, with several sequences designed to scare audiences. The inclusion of action sequences (most notably a chase sequence featuring flying sleds throughout the city) also seems gratuitous and made to push the 3D craze of the time. Director Robert Zemeckis capped his trilogy of ill-conceived 3D-CGI features with this one (after The Polar Express and Beowulf) and it’s a good thing he then went on to do other kinds of movies. Nearly a decade later, there haven’t been any attempts to go beyond this highly detailed CGI-fest, but we can already suspect that it’s not going to age nearly as well as versions made decades before. (For the record, my best current take on Dickens’s story is the 1999 BBC version starring Patrick Stewart.)

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