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A ‘Carol’ that hits some high notes

<b>REVIEW. </b>There is something creepy about the way Robert Zemeckis makesmovies. In his last three films — first “The Polar Express,” then“Beowulf,” and now “A Christmas Carol”— the director has employed ahybrid method that crosses live action with animation. He no doubtthinks the work is pioneering, but “pioneering” usually has a positiveconnotation.<p></p>

‘A Christmas Carol’
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Jim Carrey, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman
Rating: PG
Grade: ?????

There is something creepy about the way Robert Zemeckis makes movies. In his last three films — first “The Polar Express,” then “Beowulf,” and now “A Christmas Carol”— the director has employed a hybrid method that crosses live action with animation. He no doubt thinks the work is pioneering, but “pioneering” usually has a positive connotation.

That said, “A Christmas Carol” is the least offensive and most interesting of Zemeckis’ hybrid films. Yes, it is still creepy to see the faces of familiar actors stripped of all expressiveness, as if their photos had been filtered through some Facebook application that spat out generic cartoon images. But it helps that most of the principal characters, Jim Carrey’s Ebenezer Scrooge chief among them, are clearly cartoons, not eerie facsimiles of the actors behind them.

Only Scrooge’s nephew Fred manages to be consistently creepy from behind his digitally rendered Colin Firth death mask.

But what is impressive about Zemeckis’ “A Christmas Carol” is how much it resembles Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” What is being marketed as a feel-good holiday story is actually a moral parable with an unmistakable message about the special place in hell that awaits the moneylenders. If it weren’t for all the white-bread names attached, you’d almost think this “Christmas Carol” was … subversive.

 
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