Monday, November 23, 2009

A Christmas Carol 3D

Don't You Dare Bah, Humbug! Me!

Robert Zemeckis seems to have been bitten by the motion-capture/3D/animation bug and it's definitely no stopping him from developing yet another flick that continues to evolve the multi-sensory technology to immerse the viewer into an experience. And you just cannot fault him with his latest, as you can see marked progression from what he first started out with The Polar Express, then Beowulf, and now, Charles Dickens' classic tale A Christmas Carol.

I suppose nobody needs any introduction to the tale where three ghosts visit Scrooge, turning his life (or nightmares actually) upside down to evoke a change in behavioural pattern. Scrooge being the miser being led to see the folly of his ways and his attitude, and well, turns over a new leaf. The story has been done countless of times, either directly, or indirectly and usually through comedies, the most recent being The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past starring Matthew McConaughey.

One of the chief differences for this Zemeckis picture, is that it stays faithful to the source. No tinkering of characters and plots, as it strives to probably be the definitive version in time to come. And the animation here is simply top notch, and you'd soon appreciate the half a decade of honing the technology and craft into what you'd see from the film - pristine, photo-realistic rendition of characters and sets, so much so that if someone was to boldly suggest the end of an era for real actors shooting against real locations, well, you won't just bat your eyelids and laugh that suggestion off.

The level of detail for each character is astonishing, and one wonders at the amount of effort that went behind the scenes in the production process, which you can read about in countless of material available online. But I suppose having a strong, imaginative and innovative cast helps, as the voice talents here all prove to be a force to be reckoned with, in their portrayal of more than one character, and to infuse uniqueness into each so that they don't pass off as lazy copies of one another.

Rubber-faced Jim Carrey doesn't get to exercise his facial expressions in person, but does so through the animation. And to voice no less than 8 characters is something, although one can argue that some of the characters are just different versions of the same. And he's supported by the likes of Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright Penn and Bob Hoskins amongst others to bring to life their respective multi-characters through only the quality of their voices.

Should Zemeckis continue this path of making animated films, I'd certainly like to see how he'll top this one. One caution though that some of the scenes here do contain some frightening moments that could make the young ones bawl, and I'm still lamenting that we don't have an IMAX 3D, or an IMAX theatre to take advantage of the many thrill-inducing scenes that were plentiful here. Hopefully that situation could change sometime soon.

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