A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As the holiday season approaches, we’re deluged by holiday cheer and greetings. I actually heard someone in a store yesterday greet the clerk with “Merry Christmas” which is odd since it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. Still, can you really fault a person for having some holiday spirit? I guess it’s the Scrooge in me that kind of made me want to say “Bah, humbug” though I kept in internalized. With all the holiday movies that come out every year, it’s really quite a testament to Mr. Charles Dickens who penned “A Christmas Carol” back in 1843. Imagine that over 150 years later, they’d still be making movies based off of this novel. Amazing. Now with all of this said, did we really actually need another version of this classic?

Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) has just lost his partner of many years, Jacob Marley (Gary Oldman). Scrooge isn’t the nicest of men, he squanders every penny he earns and refuses to help anyone but himself. His apprentice, Bob Cratchit (also Oldman) is the polar opposite. He’s a warm, caring family man who looks forward to the end of the day so he can race home and see his family. He’s begrudgingly been given Christmas Day off by Scrooge and intends to enjoy it. But Scrooge is visited by the ghost of Marley who tells him that he’ll be visited by three spirits that night. And, as if on cue, he’s visited by the ghost of Christmas Past who shows Scrooge what he was like as a child and an adolescent. He’s then visited by the ghost of Christmas Present who shows him Bob Cratchit and his family and all of the loved ones who still toast Scrooge, despite his absence from their parties. He’s then shown his fate by the Ghost of Christmas Future. Is this enough to scare Scrooge into becoming a better person or will he suffer a fate similar to that of Jacob Marley?

Ok, look – let’s be honest here. If you don’t know anything about “A Christmas Carol” then I can only assume you’ve been living in a cave for the majority of your life. This is one of the tales that’s most closely associated with Christmas and there have been so many adaptations of it that I lost count. I will say that my favorite version is the 1988 film starring Bill Murray entitled “Scrooged” which puts a modern twist on the timeless tale. Still, Robert Zemeckis and crew are obviously trying to re-create what they had with “The Polar Express.” Looking at “A Christmas Carol” I just don’t really see how they tried to market it. It contains a number of scenes that are almost downright scary, so I don’t think that children would relate too much to it. There’s really nothing changed from the book and, having seen the film a variety of times, I didn’t get too much enjoyment out of it. Is it a bad movie? Not at all, I tend to think that if you’re looking for a good Christmas movie that there are far more out there to choose from. Now if you’re looking for reference quality video to show off your new TV then this might be your cup of tea.

Video: How does it look?

“A Christmas Carol” is shown in a 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that’s among the best I’ve ever seen. The image was taken directly from the digital source and the result is nothing short of spectacular. Detail is amazing, just looking at the links in Marley’s chain, the wrinkles in Scrooge’s face and the detail of the architecture in the landscape took my breath away. The film is somewhat dark, taking place at night (when the ghosts visit) but is intercut with some daytime scenes as well. Colors are spot on, contrast is impeccable and black levels are perfect. Like the Pixar movies or any movie that’s from a purely digital source, “A Christmas Carol” does what it’s supposed to – deliver a top notch picture. Additionally, this is one of the first titles that’s available from Disney in 3-D. I don’t really like the whole 3-D trend and I’m not equipped with a 3-D TV, but I have sampled the technology and I can only imagine how realistic this looks in 3-D.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack has its share of moments and is what I’d expect from this sort of movie. Don’t assume because a movie is animated it will be lacking in the sound department. In fact, quite the opposite. LFE’s are very present and we do get a very active stage that utilizes all of your speakers. Dialogue is, by and large, consistent, though Jim Carrey seems to be a bit on the soft side when voicing Scrooge. Surrounds are quite present and though the majority of the action is in the front stage, it does make for a very encompassing atmosphere.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Depending on your taste, you can get “A Christmas Carol” in a variety of formats and Disney has assured they’ve one for you. This was the three disc Blu-ray reviewed here, with a Blu-ray, a standard DVD and a digital copy of the movie. The 3-D Blu-ray is the same, but the additional disc is for the 3-D version of the film (on Blu-ray). We start off with “Being the Carol: The Full Motion-Capture Experience” as we get to see the raw footage of the movie. We see the actors doing their parts in a warehouse sort of environment. This can be viewed as a picture-in-picture while watching the film. In many ways, I found this more interesting than the final product. Next up we get a feature-length commentary by director Robert Zemeckis which is a bit on the technical side, but still informative nonetheless. He’s more in admiration of the cast than telling us about the film, but we’re all so familiar with the film that it somewhat makes sense. Next up is “Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling” this is hosted by Jacquie Barnbrook which is essentially a fifteen minute justification for remaking the movie. On the BD front, we get an interactive calendar that’s you can count down to Christmas via your Blu-ray player. Interesting…kind of. We also get some deleted scenes in some rough animated style format and the theatrical trailer has been added.

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