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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - December, 2010

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"A Christmas Carol" (3D) (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

movie-december-2010-christmas-carol

Synopsis

This is Charles Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his “spiritual awakening” one Christmas Eve.  Scrooge (Carrey) is a friend to no one except his money.  He leaves work on Christmas Eve and upon returning home has a serious of visits from first the spirit of his dead partner, Jacob Marley then three ghosts representing the past, present and future.  Seeing his life unfold before him and learning of a possible dark future convinces him to change his path and embrace life and look for rewards outside the material.  It’s quite a wild ride but Scrooge learns a valuable lesson to his everlasting benefit.

Specifications

  • Walt Disney Studios
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 36 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Codec: Not Specified
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring:  Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman and Colin Firth
  • Directed by Robert Zemeckis
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: No
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This story must be one of the most-made movies in history.  IMDB lists 25 versions going all the way back to a 17-minute silent film from 1910!  I really enjoyed this telling with its fantastic special effects and some of the best motion-capture animation I’ve ever seen.  Though it is appropriate for family viewing, the tale is a bit dark and will probably not be as entertaining for young children.  Jim Carrey does an amazing job voicing Scrooge with a completely authentic British accent and a crotchety-old-man delivery.  Even though there are other A-list actors in the cast, Carrey steals the show for sure.  Colin Firth has a brief role as Scrooge’s nephew Fred and Gary Oldman and Robin Wright Penn deliver excellent performances too.  This tale never gets old and I’ll be adding this Blu-ray to my library.

Technical

This film first hit theaters about a year ago when it was shown in both 2D and 3D Imax versions.  The animation is motion-captured for a very life-like depiction.  I really enjoy CGI like this.  It’s not cartoonish in any way.  Colors and textures are intended to be natural and motion is amazingly realistic and fluid.  A lot of time was put into the details of Scrooge’s face.  Every wrinkle, age spot and hair is rendered with phenomenal clarity.  I watched this disc on an LCD 3D TV and found the added effect enjoyable.  I also watched a few clips on my normal projection setup in 2D and enjoyed the image just as much.  I still believe a quality display properly calibrated can equal or exceed the best 3D presentation and this film proved that to me.

Color and contrast were equal to the best live-action films I’ve seen with realistic textures on most objects.  In scenes with many characters, some of the faces looked flat as though less effort were put into their rendering.  Surfaces like wood and fabric looked three-dimensional even in the 2D version.  CGI seems to get better and better with every new release.  I have no problem watching movies entirely generated by computer.  It’s a neat way to make a film and I applaud the effort by Disney and Robert Zemeckis.  This is the fifth 3D title I’ve watched at home and the best to date in its use of the technology.

The DTS-HD Master Audio sound track was rich and dynamic with lots of detail.  Fast-motion scenes had plenty of panning action that took full advantage of the surrounds.  Low-frequency effects were used sparingly but when the sub was called upon, the result was a nice tight bass with no bloat.  Music was up to Disney’s usual high standard with full orchestra used throughout; kudos to veteran film score composer, Alan Silvestri.

Extras

Bonus features include a 3D presentation on the making of the film and documentaries on the creative process and motion-capture techniques used.  There are also deleted scenes.  The package is a great value with both 2D and 3D Blu-rays, a DVD and a digital copy for your PC or portable device.