Review: Disney's A Christmas Carol
3.5 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
I've said it before: 3-D animation is as much a curse as it is a blessing. To be sure, it's often great fun to sit through a 3-D movie, and the technology is unquestionably great for the industry (it is, after all, one viewing experience that can't be pirated), but it is also a distraction, a pesky, showy contrivance that, ironically, can act as a buffer between the viewer and the art and story of the film at hand.
As such, “Disney's A Christmas Carol” is a joy and a joke. It is both a spectacular entertainment and a spectacularly gimmicky product. It's the latest from the filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, who's apparently lost interest in directing traditional, live-action movies like his Oscar-winning “Forrest Gump,” and has instead channeled all his energy into refining the motion-capture animation style he previously used to bring “The Polar Express” and “Beowulf” to life. In that respect, Zemeckis has surely succeeded, as “A Christmas Carol,” for one thing, boasts the most lifelike human characters I've ever seen in a film of this type. Gone are the dead-eyed expressions and glazed complexion of Tom Hanks's train conductor in “The Polar Express.” What we now have are realistic, sometimes ugly people with emotional gazes and skin covered in blemishes, stubble, wrinkles and rosy cheeks brought on by the frigid London winter (they also have Londoners' bad teeth).