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Christmas Carol, A (3D)


Stars: Jim Carrey, Gary Oldman, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, Colin Firth, Cary Elwes, Fionnula Flanagan, Lesley Manville

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Carrey's brilliant impersonation of Alastair Sim's voice delights the ear in Disney's 'performance capture' version of the seasonal Dickens tale about the Man Who Stares at Ghosts. This involves live-action footage being digitally reworked to appear in semi-animated form.

The film closely follows the 1951 Sim classic, with much of its dialogue, only being radically altered in the 'Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come' segment, which has miser Scrooge wildly pursued by a team of red-eyed horses and being reduced to miniature. It's just one of the elements that make the yarn perhaps unnecessarily too scary for younger children, although most of the frights are caused by seat-clutching special effects that render the less palatable elements - notably the children hiding under Christmas Yet to Come's robe - even more graphic than in previous versions.

Carrey's Scrooge drives the film (effectively - and ambitiously - made in 3D) which is just as well. He also does the Ghost of Christmas Past as an animated Irish candle (good fun) and a north-country Ghost of Christmas Present (rather less impressive). Other members of the cast also double up. Oldman makes Bob Cratchit a moon-faced dwarf, as well as playing Marley's Ghost; Hoskins is both Fezziwig and the rascally Old Joe; while Wright Penn has the thankless roles of Scrooge's sister and his boyhood sweetheart.

We all know the story, of course. Scrooge is a grasping London moneylender, the 19th century equivalent of a loan shark, who is visited by three spirits and hastily mends his ways. This version is a work of much imagination, although its attempt to provide vivid, snowy, Dickensian atmosphere and vistas sometimes slows the pace. Older kids from six up whould enjoy it; sensitive younger ones might well have a few nightmares.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Technicolor.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 03 Nov 2009