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A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Over the course of my life I have been witness to the exceedingly numerous adaptations of Charles Dickens' 1843 story- I have seen everything from the one man stage version with Patrick Stewart, to the classic 1951 film version with Alastair Sim, to the 1970 musical film with Albert Finney, not to mention animated versions featuring Mister Magoo and Fred Flintstone, to television versions starring George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart, plus a whole lot of other versions I won’t even bother to mention. This brings us to the latest adaptation of the Dickens’ story- 2009’s fully computer animated A CHRISTMAS CAROL ($40), which was directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring the vocal talents and motion captured performances of Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins and Robin Wright Penn. Of all the versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL that I have had the pleasure of watching, I will give this one credit for being the most visually impressive and hyperkinetic. However, this should come as no surprise, considering that this version of A CHRISTMAS CAROL was created for Disney Digital 3D and IMAX-3D presentations, and has moments that are visually akin to a theme park ride.

As there have been so many adaptations of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I would assume everyone should be familiar with the plot, but there may be a few that require either a primer or refresher. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is set in London during the 1830s and begins with the proclamation: Marley was dead. Ebenezer Scrooge is a miserly old moneylender and former partner Jacob Marley, who is so stingy that he wouldn’t pay to have Marley’s name removed from the sign over their counting house- even seven years after Marley’s death. With a distain for his fellow man, and no Christmas spirit in his heart, Scrooge turns down an invitation from his nephew Fred to share a holiday dinner with him and his wife; and only grudgingly allows his clerk Bob Cratchit to have the day off.

Upon Christmas Eve, Scrooge finds himself visited by the heavily shackled ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley. Marley offers Scrooge the opportunity to escape his horrifying fate and tells Scrooge that three more spirits will visit him. As most of you are well aware, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come visit Scrooge all show the cold-hearted skinflint the errors of his ways. Of course, with only a ninety-six minute running time, this rendition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs on something of a stripped down screenplay that doesn’t linger on any aspect of the story for too long before flying off to the next visual spectacle. Fortunately, the motion captured and vocal performances of the excellent cast manage to enrich the film, where the screenplay falls short of the task.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has A CHRISTMAS CAROL available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Coming directly from the digital files, the 1080p presentation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is virtually perfect, and continues to prove why there is no substitute for watching computer animated movies at home in high definition. Image sharpness, clarity, dimensionality and detail are everything one could hope for from a CGI animated film transferred directly from the digital files- in other words, it all looks perfect. On can truly appreciate all of the artistry and detail that went into the character design and objects that reside in this virtual world, as well as the texture mapping of said characters and objects. It all looks incredibly dimensional, even in though this presentation is only 2D. Colors are fully saturated, yet completely stable. Blacks are pitch perfect, while the whites demonstrate the same kind of straight from the computer realm perfection. Contrast demonstrates the kind of smoothness that can only be created in the digital realm. As I stated above, the presentation comes directly from the digital files, so there is no grain, nor will one find any visual imperfections in the image.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Appropriate to the material, the sound design is quite impressive, featuring quieter intimate moments, as well as big, boisterous flights of fancy. The outlying channels springs to life for more visually maniacal moments, however much of A CHRISTMAS CAROL is dialogue driven, with a greater reliance on an enveloping sense of atmosphere. By virtue of the lossless encoding, fidelity is excellent in regards to both Alan Silvestri’s score and the sound effects. The bass channel is potent but not overwhelming. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English descriptive track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is Behind The Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience, which is a picture-in-picture feature allows one to see the motion capture performances in concert with the completed film, as well as offering a running Audio Commentary with director Robert Zemeckis (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Featurettes and other programs include the following: Capturing A Christmas Carol (fifteen minutes) and On The Set With Sammi (two minutes). A Countdown To Christmas Interactive Calendar, six Deleted Scenes and Bonus Trailers close out the standard supplements. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two contains a DVD edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

Thin on screenplay, 2009’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL is still a stunning visual interpretation of Charles Dickens' oft-adapted 1843 story. The Blu-ray presentation is pure perfection. Recommended as eye candy to stuff the holiday stockings of Blu-ray fans.

 
A CHRISTMAS CAROL 


Disney's A Christmas Carol (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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