Robert Zemeckis’ infatuation with the motion-capture animation process has officially gone too far with Disney’s A Christmas Carol, as the film, which marks the first out-and-out failure of Zemeckis’ career, boasts a consistently (and distractingly) artificial visual sensibility that inevitably exacerbates the familiarity of the storyline. There’s consequently never a point wherein the viewer is drawn into the main character’s plight, which, given that the narrative revolves solely around Scrooge’s transformation from cold-hearted miser to joyful humanitarian, is especially problematic and ultimately ensures that the movie remains woefully uninvolving virtually from start to finish. And although Zemeckis’ expectedly over-the-top directorial choices initially prove effective at compensating for the stale atmosphere (ie an eye-popping flight through Victorian England), the inherently low-rent animation style becomes more and more difficult to overlook as the film progresses – with the shot-on-the-cheap appearance of the supporting figures belying the movie’s almost absurdly inflated budget (ie did all the money go into creating the admittedly striking protagonist?) It’s a shame, really, as Zemeckis has lined up an undeniably impressive roster of periphery performers (including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Bob Hoskins), though it’s clear right from the get-go that this is Jim Carrey’s show through and through – yet there’s little doubt that the actor’s larger-than-life take on his four characters rarely meshes with the antiquated nature of Charles Dickens’ story. The uneven and pervasively tedious atmosphere ensures that the uplifting finale is hardly able to pack the emotional impact that one might’ve anticipated, thus cementing the film’s place as a woefully misguided endeavor that hopefully marks the end of Zemeckis’ mocap experiment.
** out of ****