I remember when this was announced for its theatrical release last year I could not believe that I would be interested in it. I mean, this is A Christmas Carol, a story that everyone is familiar with. It is kind of like Frankenstein and Dracula as stories that we seem born knowing about. I feel fairly certain that I knew what these stories were about in broad stokes before anyone told me about them. On top of that we already have the greats like the Muppet and Disney versions, as well as the 1951 version with Alastair Sim as Scrooge, you can even include the Bill Murray starring Scrooged, so do we really need another? I guess I shouldn't be so cynical; of course, we can use another version, so long as the creative team brings something new to the screen.
With this new version from director Robert Zemeckis and star Jim Carrey we get a take on the Charles Dicken's classic that is worthy of the big screen and high quality Blu-ray treatment in a few different ways. These ways include it being a surprisingly faithful take on the story, Zemeckis pioneering of technology, and it just looks really good.
The movie opens with the opening of the Dickens text and a zoom through the opening sentence: "Marley was dead: to begin with." Emphasis on the word "dead." This was a good sign this was going to be different, more serious, and not as jokey as one would expect from a Jim Carrey film. The second sign was the lingering on the dead body of Marley in his wooden coffin as Scrooge haggles price with the undertaker; it is a little creepy and unsettling. Then there is the use of old English style dialogue, which feels like it was taken right from the text. These things taken together all contribute to the fresh feel of this film.
The story plays out in the fashion one would expect. The miserly Scrooge is taught lessons by a trio of spirits, all of which visit him one Christmas eve sparking a sharp change in his attitude towards the holiday and those around him. Jim Carrey as Scrooge (and the three Christmas spirits) turns in a fine performance where he puts his rubber face to great use. With Zemeckis' overall darker approach to the material, room was afforded for Carrey to really get into the character and give us a Scrooge with more emotional resonance than one would expect.