Sunday, November 08, 2009

3D Movie Review: A CHRISTMAS CAROL - 7/10

Jim here. Saw Zemeckis' wonderful interpretation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL (ACC) last night and I was more impressed than I thought I would be. But do I think it is in the caliber of AVATAR? Heck no. More on that later. No real spoilers here at all - read the whole thing!

I arrived 45 minutes early for the last show of the evening at 9:40PM and the lineup was already 200 deep. ACC is doing VERY well at IMAX, thank you very much. It will be interesting to see the 2D vs. 3D numbers!!

No AVATAR trailer in front of it at IMAX 3D. Saw ALICE IN WONDERLAND though and that was an unexpected treat. Looked, well... wonderful. 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL does exceptionally well with it's 3D, environments and excitement. I saw the movie in IMAX 3D and while there was some ghosting going on (not a pun!), I blamed it on the projection system and not the distribution. Could be a local event too, but these wrinkles need to be worked out. Several times through the showing dust dropped on the Projector lens and it was VERY distracting in 3D. It blew off about a minute later. Could hardly focus on the screen at all - interesting phenomenon. 

Jim Carrey is a genius. He really is. To pull off so many characters through facial expressions and vocally must have been quite a task. I can think of no one better suited for performance capture - and that includes Andy Serkis (did I say that?). You have to see JC's performances! 

Zemeckis did a heckuva job with the ghosts too. I was skeptical at first and still believe the 2D versions of them would not hold up nearly as well - but they were superb. Especially the Ghost Of Things To Come. If you have kids under 10 years of age you should strongly consider not bringing them. At least I won't be. 

ACC's old London was riveting! I love that era. Let's put it this way - if I had a holodeck in my basement, old London would be one of the first I would be dialing up. Sure it was kind of candy coated, but it's the holidays! And the close to first person flybys of the countryside is as close as you can get to a Disney ride in the theater :-) 

Does it compare to expectations for Cameron's AVATAR? No. No way. There are some similarities, like for example ACC is completely CG and performance captured - while AVATAR is about 60% CG and perfcapped. But the comparison ends there. The characters in ACC are clearly, CLEARLY CG, not photo real and no where near crossing the "uncanny valley". And yes, some of the characters were doing inhuman feats of acrobatics and I guess that helps with the feeling that "you shouldn't be thinking of these characters as human". But you can see the tremendous work that was put into the show and let me tell you to have something so well put together, end to end in pure CG is an awesome feat. Someday Zemeckis' expertise will be on top of the heap simply because that is where we are eventually heading. But for now? Good entertainment. Just not AVATAR. 

Oh and to Alan Silvestri I say well done on A CHRISTMAS CAROL's score! A pleasure to listen to indeed. How would I improve it? I would have scored it much better had they elaborated on the ending more - turn on the happiness faucet and sprayed goodwill all over the audience. As it is, it is far shorter than something like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. The potential is clearly there and it would atone for the darker scenes for family viewing. 7 out of 10 for the ride. It could have been an 8 with the right emotions though.

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Jim Dorey
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