This is, of course, the familiar tale of miser Ebenezer Scrooge (voice of Simon Callow) andhis conversion thanks to his encounters with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-To-Come. This version has a few alterations, though: Scrooge’s lost love (Kate Winslet) is still verymuch around, and is trying to get in touch with him; there’s a new subplot involving a hospitalfor poor orphans that shuts down because of Scrooge; and Scrooge’s only friends are two mice,who sca…per about but serve no real plot purpose. The film is a mixed bag. The animation ratherstiff, but the artwork itself is very impressive, ranging from gloomy, fog-drenched pastels ofLondon to the bright, Marc Chagall-inspire montage of the Christmas Present sequence, to thegrey-and-black expressionism of the Yet-To-Come scenes. (These two scenes are most striking,and constitute the highlights of the film.) The script awkwardly mixes the book’s original lineswith over-explained bowdlerizations, giving the impression that the film is talking down to theaudience. Then there is the matter of the opening and ending, but more on that when we get tothe special features.
The sound is 2.0 surround, and is pretty solid stuff for 2.0. There is no distortion on thedialogue, and the music sounds great. The sound effects come off very well too, and the Londonstreet scenes are very strong, with background noises coming in from all sides. None of thisevery drown out the dialogue, however, which has its own nice surround echoes whereappropriate.
The picture isn’t as good as the sound. For one thing, the image is fullscreen, and the extrasand the credits make it abundantly clear that this was not the original aspect, statements on thecase notwithstanding. The colours are sumptuous, and any random freeze-frame would leave youwith an image suitable for framing. There is no grain either, though there is a bit of edgeenhancement visible. As well, the picture is a bit softer than it should be.
The making-of featurette is the usual promo thing, and of only marginal interest. Mostinfuriating are the theatrical opening and ending: watching these live-action sequences, I realizedwhy the opening and closing narration seemed so choppy, starting and ending as if in the middleof a paragraph. That’s because that is exactly the case. Why on earth one would chop off theopening and closing of a movie, and present these pieces as extras, is beyond me. Also on offerare the video for Kate Winslet’s “What If” song (which integrates very badly with the rest of themovie), and heaping handful of trailers for this and other children’s or Christmas DVDs. Themenu’s main page is animated and scored.
There are all sorts of things wrong with this film, but its look is at times so beautiful that it is,at the very least, worth a look, if only to think about how good it might have been.
Special Features List
- Original Theatrical Opening and Ending
- Making-of Featurette
- “What If” Kate Winslet Music Video