I've never been the type to go crazy over every single Christmas movie that comes along. Don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoy a classic story like 'The Polar Express,' I just don’t care for holiday "comedy" releases starring the likes of Vince Vaughn.
As a child, I was never exposed to the entire tale of 'A Christmas Carol.' My parents felt its themes were too adult for a children's holiday story. I knew some of the classic characters, such as cruel old Ebenezer Scrooge, and good-hearted Tiny Tim, but that was about it. After watching this movie, I've come to realize that Charles Dickens' story can easily be reinvented with the same basic principals and produce a story catered to any age group.
As most know, 'A Christmas Carol' is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey), a tight-fisted business man who doesn't believe in charity of any kind. He feels that every man should be able to earn money for his family without the aid of others. Seven years after the death of his business partner, Mr. Marley (Gary Oldman), Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former partner, and receives a warning that if he doesn't change his ways, a horrible afterlife awaits him. Scrooge is told that he will be visited by three spirits: the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future (all three portrayed by Jim Carrey). These ghosts have the task of showing Scrooge the error of his ways and how everything he does affects the people around him. In the process, Scrooge is forced to take a hard look at himself and the ways his actions hurt the people around him. The powers of joy and the holiday season end up saving Scrooge as he learns that there are things in life far more important than money.
What would a review of 'A Christmas Carol' be without discussing Jim Carrey's performances? I've personally enjoyed most of the work he has turned in over the course of his career, and Carrey really earned his paycheck for this movie, one in which he portrays a total of eight different characters! That’s a lot of different voices for one person to come up with! But the voice work was only half the battle, for Carrey also wore motion-capture suits and hundreds of little green dots all over his face to capture his exact facial expressions as he performed. Ultimately, what you see animated on screen is largely the performance that Carrey delivered on a soundstage during production.
It's also worth mentioning how absolutely amazing and realistic the animation looked. Having been impressed, but not thrilled by Robert Zemeckis' 'Polar Express,' I didn't know what to expect. He seems to have taken the concept of single actor voice work mixed with motion capture technology to a new level of realism here. Again, much of the credit for the success of this feature is likely owed to Jim Carrey's talents (after all, the man is practically a living cartoon!)
Overall, 'A Christmas Carol' is a solid Christmas movie and very nearly a great film, one that families should enjoy watching together this holiday season.
Disney presents 'A Christmas Carol' in a beautiful 1080p 3D, 2.40:1 transfer. I have to say, this is one of, if not the best transfers I have seen on the 3D Blu-ray format to date. Disney's first commercial 3D Blu-ray release is sure to be a demo disc for electronic stores over the holiday season.
My favorite aspect of this transfer is its realism. It's clear a great deal of care and attention to detail was put into the animation. Colors are extremely responsive to lighting conditions. The best example was the Ghost of Christmas Past's fire. I also appreciated the texture of bricks on buildings, imperfections in pieces of wood, characters' breath in Scrooge's office, and the extremely realistic facial features of characters.Finally, shadow effects are about the best I have seen from an animation film.
In addition to the demo worthy colors and animation, 'A Christmas Carol' also features the best 3D effects I have seen to date. The strength of this release lies in the incredibly realistic sense of depth.
I only had a few very minor complaints with this transfer. First, there are a few examples of ghosting occurring in some of the darker scenes (Unfortunately, I'm not talking about the spirits). The instances are few and far between, but it still pops up a few times throughout the movie. The only other tiny problem I noticed were a few hardly noticeable examples of banding. Both these issues were very, very minor on an otherwise demo worthy transfer.
Disney has shown with this release that the same amount of care they put into their Blu-ray releases will be afforded to their 3D Blu-ray catalogue titles as well.
The Blu-ray 3D disc in the 4 disc combo pack for 'A Christmas Carol' features a very good DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is sure to add to your enjoyment of the movie.
I was a bit disappointed by the scope of the sound design. The producers could have gone a bit bigger with it, but the material they do give us is excellent. Dialogue is clear and mostly remains in the front speakers while surround effects are very discrete but work very well when used in outdoor scenes where a lot is going on. Bass levels are also spot on in some of the louder sequences, like in most of Scrooge's encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Again, I wish the design would have been a bit grander but I am still very pleased with this soundtrack.
'A Christmas Carol' is packaged in a 4 disc set that includes a disc that plays only in 3D, the 2D Blu-ray, the DVD version, and a digital copy disc. The following are the 2D features included with this set.
'A Christmas Carol' is simply an excellent 3D Blu-ray release from Disney and is now the frontrunner in my mind for the demo disc of the holiday season. Not only is this a very good movie with some of the best animation I have ever seen, but it also features excellent video, audio, and a good helping of special features. Toss in a 2D Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy of the film and this is one killer 3D Blu-ray combo pack from Disney. This release is a must own for early adopters of the 3D Blu-ray format and even those who want the movie and think they maybe, possibly, just might take the 3D leap in the future!
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.