Charles Dickens made a mint with readings of A Christmas Carol, but a century and a half of technological progress has not been kind to the property. Thanks to Robert Zemeckis’s state-of-the-art 3-D performance-capture animation, audiences can now enjoy the spectacle of Jacob Marley’s ghost (Gary Oldman) spewing spit in their laps.
Or Bob Cratchit (Oldman again) looking like Gollum in a waistcoat. Or endless sequences of the camera flying over a snow-globe-like London. And there’s something about the process that frees up actors to deliver their hammiest performances, especially Jim Carrey as Scrooge and all three Ghosts.
Man, that Ghost of Christmas Present sure can laugh. Zemeckis does conjure his canny Back to the Future period when he plays games with the notion of time. But the best part of this Christmas Carol is the end, when the ugly animation metamorphoses back into the pages of a book.