Disney’s A Christmas Carol 2-Disc Blu-ray combo pack review

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Scene from Disney's A Christmas Carol
Scene from Disney's A Christmas Carol

Today Walt Disney Studios debuts Academy Award-
winning director Robert Zemeckis’ (Best Director, Forrest Gump in 1994) unique interpretation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey as multiple characters including the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, along with the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come, on Blu-ray Disc.

Robert Zemeckis’ version of A Christmas Carol, which he wrote and directed, features Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, which may seem like an odd choice as first, since Scrooge is a crusty and bitter old man, as opposed to Carrey, best known for his animated style of comedic performances. However, as soon as Carrey’s Scrooge comes on screen, Zemeckis’ choice is immediately understood.

There have been more than 25 feature film productions of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella A Christmas Carol on film and television. There have also been numerous theater productions and musicals. However, Robert Zemeckis’ 3-D computer-animated spectacle brings the story to a new generation in perfect fashion. This take of the classic tale features cutting age technology that blends computer-generated imagery with performance-capture cameras, turning actors into digital avatars. A Christmas Carol may seem like a somewhat odd choice for this particular brand of filmmaking, but it makes sense, because it allows Zemeckis to unleash his digital wizardry on a story that many kids may find old-fashioned.

Carrey is genius here, as he transforms into the mean-spirited Scrooge. Aside from a few structural resemblances in the face, he’s virtually unrecognizable once in his digital self. Carrey is joined in this unique digital world by fellow actors Gary Oldman, Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Bob Hoskins and Collin Firth, all of whom play multiple characters of various shapes, sizes, and ages. And this, of course, is precisely the point.

Disney's A Christmas Carol 2-Disc Blu-ray combo pack
Disney's A Christmas Carol 2-Disc Blu-ray combo pack
Zemeckis stays very close to Dickens’ original story, including the dialogue, but creates an entirely new visual landscape, which makes full use of the technology at hand. The computer-generated wizardry allows Zemeckis to imagine the supernatural visitors who come to haunt Scrooge into being a better person, which not surprisingly gives the film its best moments. With attention to detail and a new visual library, Zemeckis and crew have created a tale more than worthy of its source material.

Bonus Material

Disney’s A Christmas Carol 2-Disc Blu-ray set has a nice assortment of bonus content, beginning with Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience, presented in HD (along with all the bonus materials). The picture-in-picture supplement offers viewers the opportunity to watch A Christmas Carol in its final version, alongside the actor’s on-stage motion capture performances. The incredible feature allows for comparison between the physical performances and the final animated artwork. Viewers have the option of watching either the finished picture with the motion capture sequences in a small secondary window, or expand the motion capture footage to fill the screen and remove the final movie altogether. There’s also a commentary track featuring director Robert Zemeckis discussing the process of the motion capture work behind the movie as he promotes use of the technology. Zemeckis offers insight into select scenes that pertain to both the film and the motion capture process, making for a very interesting and compelling experience.

Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling is a 14 minute humorous featurette offering an interesting look at why this version of the classic tale best captures the spirit of Charles Dickens’ story. Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar allows users to count down the days until Christmas by selecting numbers from one through twenty-five. Next up is On Set with Sammi, a short film that follows actress Sammi Hanratty’s experiences on the set of A Christmas Carol. Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon & Pumbaa is a general extended ad touting Blu-ray 3D technology, hosted by two characters from The Lion King, while Learn How to Take Your Movies on the Go discusses the benefits of digital copy.

There are also six Deleted Scenes on the Blu-ray disc.

Theatrical Release Date: November 6, 2009
Blu-ray Release Date: November 16, 2010