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Movie Review: A Christmas Carol (2009)

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When you preview a major Christmas movie in early November, you may at first forget that Christmas movies, especially Disney Christmas movies, are of necessity magical and special. This movie, Disney's A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey in a variety of parts, easily lives up to every expectation of a classic — it's memorable and filled with excitement. Dickens' plot is familiar, but seeing it here, with Jim Carrey at his better-than-best playing an Ebenezer Scrooge who is warm and believable, is a season pleasure.

This movie, showing in IMAX and IMAX 3D, is at the forefront of the state of the art for today’s motion pictures. The camera work across the spectrum is spellbinding. We view the days in the life of Scrooge from up and down, and every viewpoint in between. The ghosts are ghastly, yet we feel we can get to know them, and find them most heavenly indeed. Disney has outdone itself with sets and street scenes from old London.  Watching the motion picture provides insight into those not-to-be-forgotten days gone by.

Those fortunate enough to enjoy the 3D version will never forget this holiday feast for the eyes.  In some ways the 3D experience is understated, as we don’t find a number of items rushing by our movie seats, or invoking our grasp.  But the use of the 3D technology in this picture is more mature, more thought-provoking than in previous films, and more adequate too, to advance the plot. Be assured, you will not be disappointed. We live in wonder at the 21st century, 3D IMAX experience! Robert Zemeckis wrote and directed this holiday masterpiece. Zemeckis is well known for the Back to the Future  trilogy, which starred Michael J. Fox.

We meet Ebenezer at the Christmas funeral of his lifelong friend and business partner, Jacob Marley, as portrayed by Gary Oldman. Scrooge only hesitates momentarily before pocketing the coins from the dead man's eyes. Scrooge, trying only to reach the safety of his home and bed, is met by the pale and ghastly spirit of the departed Marley, who now knows he is forever doomed to walk the earth bound in chains. Marley warns Scrooge that a similar fate awaits him. He will be visited by spirits. He must change his ways. Ebenezer falls into an ill-fated sleep.  Upon awakening still groggy with sleep, Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past — a candle-like apparition with a glowing flame for a head, and the visage of a innocent child. At one point our Ebenezer seeks to extinguish the spirit visitor with a candle snuffer — but to no avail.

Now being whisked about through time and space, far above the city, in the company of the glowing flame, Scrooge sees the long gone years of his life. First as a lonely orphan in a Christmas Day orphanage, himself the only living person present, then later as a dashing and slim young newly wedded husband whose lust for money costs the love of his beautiful young bride, he helplessly sees the past he cannot change. One thing I loved about this movie is that the young Scrooges really look like our aged hero; you didn't have to wonder for a moment. Though a lifetime away, they look ike him. Scrooge then is moved to many tears, and is returned by the childlike spirit to the safety of his bed.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a giant of a god-like apparition in flowing robes of green. "Touch my cloak!" the towering spirit demands. The belt of his massive garb moves toward Scrooge, who touches it, and they are then flying high over London to view the lives of those who, on that very day, on Christmas, are bound by fate to the life of Scrooge.

Ebenezer has a faithful employee in Bob Cratchit. Ebenezer had been unwilling but compelled to let Cratchit take the entire Christmas Day off so he could celebrate, though nearly impoverished by his greedy employer, with his lovely family. Now in the company of the spirit, Ebenezer is obliged to witness the holiday of the Cratchits. There we meet the joyful and courageous, though quite sickly, Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim, who lightens the hearts of his family intoning "Merry Christmas, every one!" is already wilthin the shadow of death. The boy will probably die.

The spirits are still immediate. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come yields to Scrooge scenes of an old man, dead. People vie for the old man's wealth, without a care for the greedy man. Scrooge visits the grave of the newly departed and recoils in shock to see his own name on the headstone. It is Ebenezer Scrooge who has died — unloved, unmourned, and ungrieved.

But holiday movies sometimes turn out well, and so it is for A Christmas Carol! The spirit dreams have changed the man, and altered his course! Scrooge is not without a touch of wisdom, and the strength to change. He rushes to the street, determined to embrace all men and to share his new found Christmas spirit. He sings with the carolers, then spontaneously provides a fine Christmas turkey for the Cratchits. He gains access to their very table and love is all around. More money for Bob Cratchit, and as Ebenezer Scrooge takes Tiny Tim as if he were his own child, the boy’s health takes a forshadowing turn for the better. And "Merry Christmas, everyone!"

This movie is a classic and a wonder and fulfills and exceeds its holiday promise. It would be a shame to miss this well written, well acted, well filmed holiday presentation from the Disney Studios.

The cast of A Christmas Carol includes Jim Carrey as Scrooge and the Three Ghosts, Gary Oldman as Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim. Tiny Tim’s voice is courtesy of Ryan Ochoa. Also in the cast are Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, and Bob Hoskins.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!