Disney held screenings of a scene from A Christmas Carol in 3D today at select cities nationwide and I was fortunate enough to be able to sit in on one at the 8-story-tall IMAX theater in New York. Best I can tell, this is the same footage that was shown to audiences at Cannes earlier this year.
The scene was that in which Ebenezer Scrooge’s belated business partner, Jacob Marley, pays Scrooge a visit to warn him of the fateful night’s events, in which three ghosts will attempt to right the wrongs of Scrooge’s ways. Instead of the ‘I’d rather not’ response that’s shown in the trailer and also in the film clip we brought you a while back, Scrooge asks if he can have all three at once instead (which probably would make for an interesting take on the classic).
Now I certainly don’t purport to be a student of the classics, but I have seen virtually every television and film rendition of this moral tale, from the Muppets to Mr. Magoo to Rich Little and everywhere in-between. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen Scrooged with Bill Murray (‘Have you tried staples?’), but I am certain I’m pretty comfortable with the way the story goes. That said, the dialogue seemed to be very much on par with the feel of the original text. Although because it’s animated and done such in the way that it is, they’re able to take additional liberties visually that I haven’t seen before in regards to the Dickens classic.
The scene was followed by a quick, standard frenetic sequence of shot after shot, pretty much a teaser for the entire film. Lots of action sequences, including a couple involving a very creepy Ghost of Christmas Past and ending with a freakishly close-up of Scrooge’s face as he gave his trademark ‘Bah, humbug.’ All very good stuff.
After this clip, we were treated to the actual trailer, also in 3D. The trailer rehashed some of the items just previewed at the end of the clip but included all three Christmas ghosts (all portrayed by Jim Carrey, incidentally), including a good solid look at the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, both of whom also spoke. Of course, if you’re familiar with the story, you know how the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come/Future goes, so I couldn’t expect much more in way of that, although the trailer does contain a snippet of Scrooge being chased by a horse drawn carriage (which I presume to be the ghost’s) at full speed with a bullwhip that takes advantage of 3D in the traditional gimmicky way (but really not being very gimmicky at all).
Because it’s Robert Zemeckis directing and the motion capture used is similar, there’s been a lot of disparaging comparisons with this film to the Polar Express (starring Tom Hanks) which really had its humans coming off as downright creepy and dead inside. (It also probably won’t help that Polar Express is named in the film’s trailer.) I can honestly say that’s not a concern here. The humans in A Christmas Carol are just shy of photo-realistic and they don’t look like zombies from a 50s B movie.
All in all, I had a very positive experience with what little of the film I’ve seen and I’m definitely starting my own advent calendar for November 6 where you can expect to find me opening weekend at the very same IMAX theater.