"A Christmas Carol" Blu-ray Review

November 26, 2010 by Zach Demeter

Click Here!Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment debuts its first Blu-ray™ 3D release with Academy Award®-winning director Robert Zemeckis’ (Best Director, Forrest Gump in 1994) unique interpretation of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale, A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey (Yes Man, Horton Hears a Who, Bruce Almighty) as multiple characters including the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Yet to Come. Rounding out the stellar cast are Gary Oldman (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), Collin Firth (Love Actually, The Accidental Husband, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and Robin Wright (State of Play and Forrest Gump).

Synopsis
From Walt Disney Pictures comes the magical retelling of Charles Dickens’ beloved tale – Disney’s A Christmas Carol, the high-flying, heartwarming adventure for the whole family. When three ghosts take penny-pinching Scrooge on an eye-opening journey, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas – but he must act on it before it’s too late. Complete with spirited bonus features, this exhilarating and touching Disney classic is destined to be part of a family holiday tradition, adding sparkle and heart to all Christmases yet to come.

Though the film is now over a year old (ancient in movie land), we are just now seeing it released this holiday season on Blu-ray. Good thing they held off too—any earlier and it would’ve missed the advent of 3D Blu-ray’s, which are now starting to get underway. So those with a 3D setup are able to get this movie in the new fancy format, although those of us who are 3D-less can stick with the regular edition. But that’s getting ahead of myself—we must tackle A Christmas Carol first and foremost, as it is a wild reimagining of the Dickens’ classic that has been told, re-told, made and re-made into so many mediums over the years.

Ok well that’s a lie really, as there’s nothing truly separating this from the other editions other than the medium in which it’s told. The photo-realistic CGI combined with the 3D elements are really what made it stand out from the pack, but in reality there just isn’t a lot to differentiate this from other editions. The Muppet version is probably the most distinct one out of all of the renditions I’ve seen, although there certainly isn’t anything wrong with this one—it’s just more of the same. The performances are quite good, however, as Carrey’s Scrooge definitely takes on quite a few of his notable mannerisms throughout the production.

Of course it makes you wonder why they bother with CGI when it’s photo-realistic, but that’s just another medium of film to play with I suppose. I’ve never been a huge fan of it simply because it looks so jarring at times. The Polar Express was very strange looking to me but A Christmas Carol smoothed things out a bit more to help blur the line between real life and CGI. The first portion of the film was definitely off-putting but it quickly got into the zanier aspects once the ghosts started to appear. Still, everyone from Carrey to Oldman to Firth bring their A game to the film and definitely make it an enjoyable re-telling of a tale that really never gets old. I’m mildly surprised they didn’t try to “update” it for modern times, but it just goes to show that even a film set in 1836 can still remain timeless.

Overall A Christmas Carol is the supreme definition of “old hat,” but Disney’s reimagining of it definitely manages to entertain regardless. A Recommended outing for all families this holiday season, whether you’ve seen it in various incarnations in the past or not.

The Blu-ray
Disney really likes to release a variety of editions for their films and A Christmas Carol is no different. A four-disc Blu-ray set (two Blu’s, one DVD, one Digital Copy) as well as a two-disc Blu-ray (just one Blu and one DVD) and a one disc DVD release will all be available on shelves simultaneously. The obvious choice for most readers of this website will be the four-disc edition, not only because it’s the “ultimate” one but also because it gives you essentially four copies of the film to play around with (Blu-ray 2D, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and Digital Copy). Two for the home theater, one for the children’s bed rooms and one for the iPod/iPad/iWhatever that the little rug rats may be using. The packaging is the usual combination of Elite Blu and embossed slipcase, depending on the variety you end up with. For this review I’ll just be tackling the two-disc release as I don’t have a 3D setup just yet, so reviewing that edition would be useless (and impossible) for me.

Video is an AVC encoded 1080p transfer and…yup, another home run in the visuals and clarity department. I popped this disc in expecting something spectacular and that’s what immediately came on my screen with pure digital clarity. There are a lot of dark sequences in this film, but combined with the moon lit shots of London at night and the snow dusted upon the ground, it’s a hard film not to fall in love with visually. I honestly didn’t find a single thing wrong with the video presentation on this film, which truly isn’t surprising in the least. Plus it’s all digital and watching it on Blu-ray is just a real eye-popper regardless of the frame that’s on the screen.

Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and thankfully Disney has once again outdone themselves with the audio, bringing to life every floor creek and rattling chain with not only supreme clarity but also very well done surround and LFE output as well. It’s definitely a film that should be viewed with the full surround system as there are plenty of moments that bring a smile to your face simply because of how truly nice it all looks and sounds.

Extras include:


• Behind The Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience – A feature length picture-in-picture viewing mode takes the audience behind the scenes of motion capture filmmaking.
• Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar – 25 days of holiday surprises extend the holiday cheer, as viewers come back to discover what each door holds.
• Deleted Scenes – Six deleted scenes on the Blu-ray Disc.
• Capturing A Christmas Carol – Actress Jacquie Barnbrook hosts a journey through the creative process of Disney’s A Christmas Carol.
• On Set With Sammi – Follow Sammi Hanratty, one of the film’s young stars, as she shares a kid’s eye view of an “anything but average” day on the set.

It may not look like much, but that “Behind the Carol” making-of? It’s over an hour and a half long. It delves into every conceivable portion of this films creation and is definitely not something to be missed. The other featurettes are brief and pretty forgetful, but when you’re that loaded down with a making-of it’s hard to care too much about the leftovers on the disc.

Overall a Recommended release. While it’s not something you can pull out year round and watch, it’s still a definite delight to watch during the holiday season.

A Christmas Carol is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.

 

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