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A Dickens of a MESS?!?

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saturnwatcher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote saturnwatcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: A Dickens of a MESS?!?
    Posted: November 03 2009 at 1:55pm

People who's live action work I have absolutely detested have done serviceable work in animated voiceovers, which is why I'm not really ready to flush this one just yet. It is also worth pointing out that despite the several dozen previous stabs at this story, it does not necessarily follow that the definitive work has been produced. I'm just thinking that this one is probably not in our arena, which doesn't necessarily mean it is going to become a holiday classic either.

Nine times out of ten, in art as in life, there is no truth to be discovered, only an error to be exposed.--H.L. Menken
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cvcjr13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 03 2009 at 3:25pm

I'll be watching this one on an IMAX screen this Saturday if everything works out.  After having seen clips and the trailers, I feel this is going to be one of those movies that's well done, yet leaves you feeling flat.  I have to take back all my previous predictions.  This movie is going to be more like the book than I'd imagined.  It's probably going to fall short of being great, but I'm guessing it won't be anywhere near bad enough to even make the Razzie nominating ballot this year.

One of the unique directions they are taking the story is a return to what the Ghost of Christmas Past originally looked like.  In all stage and movie productions, the Ghost of Christmas Past is a woman with a light on her head, and so it never made sense why she would be carrying around a huge candle snuffer, let alone why Scrooge would use the candle snuffer on her.  In the book, the spirit apparently resembled an anthropomorphized candle, which is what we will see in this movie. 

You know, I just realized that, despite my age, I have yet to actually read the book.  I'm going to have to fix that this year.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote MiguelAntilsu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 1:42am
I think the reason they chose Jim Carrey for the part of Scrooge is because he's portrayed someone who hated Christmas in the past (the Grinch).  The reason he's portraying the ghosts is not quite clear, but the technique of one actor playing several characters was used before in The Polar Express with Tom Hanks portraying the conductor, the hobo, Santa Claus, and the boy's father.  Furthermore, just like The Polar Express, Robert Zemeckis is making this film look like a roller coaster ride.  And just like The Polar Express, the film uses performance capture technology.  As of right now, the film holds a 63% rating on RT and a 62 on Metacritic including 4 stars from Roger Ebert.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Michaels Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 2:54am
I just thought they hired Jim Carrey because he can change the pitch of his voice and he already has a very animated face.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote moviewizguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 10:24am
I don't think I have ever seen one adaptation of A Christmas Carol in my entire life. I'm vaguely clear on what the actual story is even about. Is there something wrong with me?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote RoadDogXVIII Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 11:01am
Whoa! Sitting at 53% at RottenTomatoes doesn't necessarily make this a God-awful film. What about that new film that Milla Jovovich is in: The Fourth Kind, which is at 22%. That film should be the the Worst of the Weak, as far as I'm concerned.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Julianstark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 05 2009 at 1:22pm
I'm going to see A Christmas Carol on Sunday, if everything goes as planned. I'm still pessimistic about this film, but it seems like I may have to eat my words on this one.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Michaels Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2009 at 3:08am

I consider it impossible to be unfamiliar with A Christmas Carol, seeing as how there are about a thousand different adaptations of the story in just about every medium of entertainment -- and more than half of them are showcased annually come holiday season.

Saying you have never seen any of these adaptations is like saying you live in New York, and have never seen the Empire State Building!   

Originally posted by moviewizguy

I don't think I have ever seen one adaptation of A Christmas Carol in my entire life. I'm vaguely clear on what the actual story is even about. Is there something wrong with me?

"Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie ... but, no, no. John Hughes did not direct my life." ("Easy A", 2010)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote saturnwatcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 06 2009 at 6:19am

Originally posted by moviewizguy

I don't think I have ever seen one adaptation of A Christmas Carol in my entire life. I'm vaguely clear on what the actual story is even about. Is there something wrong with me?

Too easy!

Meanwhile, with over 100 reviews posted, RT has this one at 56%. Westword, an alternative paper here in Denver that usually posts pretty good reviews noted that this one is visually striking but rather emotionally vacant, something several of us have already predicted.

As to why Carrey portrayed both Scrooge and the ghosts in this film that answer seems rather simple: money. I suspect that a lot was invested in the visual qualities of this film, and if you can cast 4 roles for the price of one, why not? In all probability, Carrey  made more for the 4 roles than he would have for the single role, but I doubt that he got anything close to what it would have cost to cast all 4 roles.

Something that should be noted, and this is coming from numerous sources: This version is evidently considerably darker and more frightening than most of the previous adaptations, so it probably isn't appropriate for younger children.

Nine times out of ten, in art as in life, there is no truth to be discovered, only an error to be exposed.--H.L. Menken
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Post Options Post Options   Quote cvcjr13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 07 2009 at 3:45pm

I saw this in 3D on IMAX, and it was visually stunning.

There were many times that the performances pull you into the story.  When I took the Christmas Carol train tour when it started in LA, I recall Zemeckis saying that he was going to concentrate on passages in the book that have never been filmed or staged before, and indeed, there were many parts that sounded like Dickens that I never heard before now.  The Ghost of Christmas Present rendered as a human-like candle was effective and made me wonder why no one had ever tried it before now (because no one actually reads the book anymore?). 

SPOILERS FOLLOW

However, there were a few scenes that were false turns.  Such as Jacob Marley (Christopher Lloyd) yelling so loud his lower jaw comes unhinged, so he has to turn around, tie up his cloth so his lower jaw swallows his upper lip, and then loosen it when it comes back together.  Or a hearse (the original kind that was drawn by horses, for those too young to know) chasing Scrooge through the streets of London.  Yes, it was cool, and yes, it was thrilling, but Zemeckis failed to tie it into what was going on with the story.  The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come wants Scrooge to repent, not to just be scared.  If they wanted simply to scare Scrooge, I would think nightly visits by Jacob Marley would be enough.  And the way Scrooge's transformation is handled, he comes across as more like someone who had lost his mind than someone who came to his senses.  Having as much money as Scrooge has accumulated, someone is likely to have him declared insane, send him to bedlam to die and take over his estate. 

Perhaps not, though.  I could see the judge asking, "So, he danced with his maid, gave his employee a raise and a turkey, gave a large sum to charity and sings with the carolers?  It would be to the betterment of mankind if more people descended into such madness."

Seven out of ten.  No Razzie recommendations.  My favorite version of A Christmas Carol remains the one starring George C. Scott.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote cvcjr13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2009 at 2:26am

My words, it's all there!  Mind you, I've only read the first part of the book, and Zemeckis did add things, but not nearly as much as other directors have added to past versions of A Christmas Carol.  But most of what Zemeckis did add, or subtract as the case may be, came from the original text itself.  Scrooge signing Marley's will?  In the book.  The guide dog dragging its blind master out of Scrooge's way?  In the book.  Bob Cratchett sliding down an ice hill where a bunch of boys were playing?  All in the book!  And what about the rebuke of Cratchett for using coal, or his going over to the exchange where he had the conversation with the charity raisers?  Not in the book, because, as Zemeckis showed it, the coal bin was in Scrooge's office under his sight (although Zemeckis locked it up), and the charity fundraisers came to Scrooge's office to have that famous and portentous discourse about the surplus population. 

The Internet is amazing, by the way.  All the books that are public domain, instead of buying a cheap copy at the bookstore like we used to, or buy a copy to read on your Kindle like they do now, you can instead read them online for free.  Here's A Christmas Carol, courtesy of Stormfax.

By the way, Cratchett is unnamed in this first section, and apparently a lot younger than even in Zemeckis' version, judging by him sliding down an ice slide 20 times and then running home to play Blindman's Bluff.  He's not a boy though, because it says he did it only in honor of Christmas Eve.

And, with all the other scary things Zemeckis added, why didn't he add Scrooge seeing a "locomotive hearse" going up the grand stairway before him as he was going to bed?  That would explain why Scrooge searched every room to make sure everything was safe and double-bolted his own bedroom door.  Oh, well, you only have so much time and so much money to do things.

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote cvcjr13 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2009 at 10:03am

The Ghost of Christmas Past is neither a woman with a bright light on her head or a human-like candle.  It's something that is weirder, something I have difficulty imagining.  Here's how Dickens describes it:

It was a strange figure -- like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white, and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.

I'm not sure why Zemeckis, after talking about how different the original Ghost was from all its staged and movie depictions, would then create a whole different creation from either one.  It sounds like a hippie in a white dress covered with flowers whose appendages vary at random, whose head doubles as a searchlight and who holds an oversized candle snuffer with the intials "ES" scrawled on one side.

Maybe I can imagine this Ghost.  Okay, now I'm scared. . . .

 

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Post Options Post Options   Quote JoeBacon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2009 at 10:28am
Until today, Shakes the Clown was the last movie I walked out of. This
bastardization of Dickens book is so dreadful it deserves as many RAZZIE
nominations as it can gather. Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst
Screen Couple are absolute locks. with Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst
Remake and Worst Screenplay deservedly bringing up the REAR!

A new category should be established for Worst Effects, because that
deserves a nod too! There are just so many CGI effects one can take before
ODing with retinal hemorrhages!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote moviewizguy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2009 at 1:35pm
Originally posted by JoeBacon

Until today, Shakes the Clown was the last movie I walked out of. This
bastardization of Dickens book is so dreadful it deserves as many RAZZIE
nominations as it can gather. Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst
Screen Couple are absolute locks. with Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst
Remake and Worst Screenplay deservedly bringing up the REAR!

A new category should be established for Worst Effects, because that
deserves a nod too! There are just so many CGI effects one can take before
ODing with retinal hemorrhages!

You are seriously exaggerating how much you loathed this movie. Like it or not, it won't be nominated in every single category. It has decent reviews and audiences went to see it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Julianstark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 08 2009 at 4:48pm
I saw the film today...

It's not bad...

I have to eat my words and say...

"This. isn't. Razzie worthy"

With that confession out of my system, it actually wasn't
bad. It's not the best movie ever, though. Decent at
best, with some fun moments and great visuals. Carrey is
actually very good in the film, in all of the roles...
but it was pointless to have Gary Oldman do the part of
Tiny Tim. His "motion-capture" in that role was so edited
that they should have saved the money and got a real kid
to play the part
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Post Options Post Options   Quote saturnwatcher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: November 09 2009 at 1:14pm

Originally posted by moviewizguy


You are seriously exaggerating how much you loathed this movie. Like it or not, it won't be nominated in every single category. It has decent reviews and audiences went to see it.

With all due respect, he very well may be completely sincere in his dislike for this movie, and he is well within his rights to express those feelings. I had a very similar reaction to District 9. I didn't walk out, but I was certainly close. It may well be that you liked this movie, MWG, but at least respect an honest and well expressed difference of opinion.

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