Plot: What’s it about?
Ebenezer Scrooge (Patrick Stewart) is one cranky old man, who tight with his money and has no sense of compassion in the least. While the entire town suffers his rage, one of his workers, Bob Cratchit (Richard E. Grant) is usually hit the hardest by Scrooge’s temperament. He works long hours, gets little payment in return, and takes all of Scrooge’s abuse, but Bob never speaks up or asks for a raise or time off from work. At least not until he asks Scrooge for a much needed favor, which causes him all sorts of problems. Even though it is so close to Christmas, Scrooge denies Cratchit’s request and sends him home empty handed, as well as unemployed. But Scrooge’s miserable attitude is about to serve him a dose of his own medicine, when a ghost appears to him and warns of three more ghosts to come. Soon, Scrooge is shown his past, present, and future thanks to his mean ways, which could have an effect on his life once he returns. But can even a supernatural plan like this one convert Scrooge into a nice, compassionate man?
I always have doubts about television movies, so when I sat down to watch this updated version of the holiday classic, my expectations weren’t too high. I did want to see how Patrick Stewart handled the role of Scrooge though, so it was not all a lost cause for me in the start. This is a timeless story that has been told so many times, in so many ways, but that doesn’t mean the more recent ones don’t have much to offer. This film is a good example of that, as it might not be the finest rendition of the story, but it still warrants a look to those who love the tale. The acting, lead by Patrick Stewart and Richard E. Grant is very good, while the production values are much better than I expected. I liked the makeup and costumes a lot, I think they added a lot of depth and shine to the film, which is important to all period pieces. I really liked the work done on the ghosts, but the entire production design was very well done, to be honest. If you want a solid holiday film to check out, this new rendition of A Christmas Carol would be a good choice.
I’ve always liked the work of Patrick Stewart, so I was anxious to see how he would fare with this character (Scrooge) on screen. Stewart is no stranger to the role however, as he has played the part on stage many times during his career. But to see him translate his work within the role to screen, that was more than worth a look, if you ask me. As usual, Stewart turns in a terrific performance and gives the character a very human edge, which is crucial to this role. He had some rather large shoes to fill, but I think Stewart more than does the character justice and brings the role to life very well. You can also see Stewart in such films as Jeffrey, Safe House, X-Men, Star Trek: First Contact, Masterminds, Dune, Lifeforce, and Excalibur. The cast also includes Laura Fraser (Titus, Virtual Sexuality), Ian McNiece (Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, No Escape), Joel Grey (The Player, Dancer in the Dark), and Richard E. Grant (Spice World, The Age Of Innocence). This revamped spin of A Christmas Carol was directed by David Hugh Jones, who also helmed such pictures as The Confession, Betrayal, Jacknife, and The Trial.
Video: How does it look?
A Christmas Carol is presented in a full frame transfer, which preserves the film’s original broadcast aspect ratio. This is a made for television movie, so don’t expect feature film type visuals, but this look much sharper than television, which is good. I saw some minor grain in several instances, but these problems were small and weren’t distracting in the least. The black levels look sharp at all times, well balanced and with a high level of visible detail. This is good, as the film uses a lot of darker schemes. The colors come off as muted at times, which is intentional, so the hues richen when they need to. All in all, a nice transfer for this television film, better than you might expect.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a 2.0 surround track, which allows the musical score and sound effects to shine. I like the very eerie music used in several instances, which really adds a lot to the mood of the film. The surrounds are used often by the music, so you’ll be enveloped into it and that is a very good thing in this case. A few spots showcase some nice subtle surround use also, which adds even more mood to the film. I heard a couple nice powerful kicks, but on the whole this is a more reserved mix. The dialogue is quite good as well, with crisp vocals and no volume problems. A couple small flaws emerge, but this is still a solid presentation. The disc also includes English and French subtitles, in case you need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Two very brief featurettes are included, but neither are long enough to offer much information in the end. Some talent files and a promotional trailer are also included though, which is nice.