Monday, November 30, 2009

A Christmas Carole 2009: All about Scrooge

I encouraged Mitch and my sister to accompany me to watch a movie last night. There's this nagging feeling since the last movie I watched (alone) was Jennifer's Body and it wasn't a pleasant experience. Another reason is that I missed watching with Mitch. A couple of months back, I had no problem organizing movie dates. Between the two of us, I am the movie-hogger. Before Mitch met me, he never cared to watch movies in the big screen if he had his way. Being a computer junkie, he would opt to just download it and save effort and money. But when I met him, I was happy enough to change his perception about watching movies in theaters that even his friends were surprised. We watched movies regularly and he started to appreciate the experience until I made an honest mistake of making him watch a movie that I thought he was OPEN enough to appreciate. One word. MILK. That movie changed it all for us.

Now I have to explain and thoroughly screen the movies that I want to watch with him. He is extremely cautious this time that he always says no, so I would end up watching alone or with a friend. That is fine, but there are moments that I want to watch a movie and I happen to be with him. It's an ongoing struggle and retribution on my part.

That's why when I said that I badly want to watch a movie this long weekend, since he was days away from shooting, he obliged. Since New Moon is obviously out, I told him that we could watch A Christmas Carol starred by Jim Carrey. I was waiting for the NO word, but immediately he agreed. I didn't look back. I reviewed the screening times, invited my sister and the next thing we knew was that we were on our way to Greenbelt at 9:30 catching the 9:55 show. Thanks to my sister, she spoiled the small fact that the movie was animated and then he threw me a sharp, frustrated look and groaned. There goes a happy spirit.

A Christmas Carol is animated, but I wasn't aware that it was 3D. We had to pay 300 bucks each and I was a bit nervous because both of us weren't wearing any contacts and we have the poorest vision. Wearing the 3D shades and watching in full screen is, I'm afraid, something one has to get used to. It takes a couple of minutes to adjust and if you're not a fan of Magic Eye, watching this might prove difficult. I am not sure if the location of our seats factored in, but at first I was dizzy. I couldn't possibly appreciate the action sequences and it was totally impossible for me to appreciate the fine texture of the animation because I was technically blind. So, I wore my glasses and semi put the 3D shades for better viewing. Mitch was fidgeting and trying to readjust his shades as he was also having a hard time watching.

I've watched different animated versions of Christmas Carol before. Heck, I even watched the Mickey Mouse adaptation. I've also watched the 2001 animated version starring Kate Winslet and other low budget adaptations on cable. I've accepted the trend that A Christmas Carol is a staple play, movie or animation shown during Christmas season, just like how we do not tire of watching Cecil B. Demille's The Ten Commandments during Holy week. THe only difference is that A Christmas Carol has already made gigantic leaps in various adaptations while The Ten Commandments has yet to be remade this 21st century. (Please do!)

Strangely put, even as a kid I was more interested about Scrooge. It might be strange that I understood him and I began to realize that men are capable of reaching his certain mentality. In all my years that I've watched versions of A Christmas Carol, I never condemned Scrooge. I was more interested in him than any other characters there and I was amazed how cold and heartless he had become. The life he lead may be solitary and difficult, but he has strong principles tucked in his grouchiness. Lastly, Scrooge always makes me laugh.

This newest movie is coined as the most modern animation offering in the history of all Christmas Carol movies. And indeed it was. The animation was pristine. There were moments wherein I couldn't tell if they were real or not. The movements were fluid and natural. There was a scene there that a group of people were dancing; and for a minute I didn't know if they were animated. The creases on a person's face, the facial expressions, the fibers, the colors and shadowing imitated life itself. It was a definite achievement in the field of multimedia and animation.

I wouldn't grapple much on the story since we all know that it's concentrated on the rich, grouchy and unreasonably thrifty Ebenezar Scrooge who is visited by the ghost of his former partner Jacob Marley and three christmas ghosts that would attempt to show and change his ways. The Spirit of Christmas Past brings Ebenezar back to his childhood days and the days when he was still warm and capable of falling in love. The Ghost of Christmas Present brings Ebenezar to the current Christmas, which introduces us to his only middle-class nephew whom he has alienated and the family of his poor, but fatherly co-worker Bob Cratchit. The Ghost of Christmas Future, the scariest one, brings the christmas that is yet to come, which serves as the push for Ebenezar to realize his wrong ways.

The movie stuck to the real story. There was no experimentation there. The interpretation, brought by the modern magic of animation, was more creative and flexible. Although it is animated and finely done, I still doubt if it would appeal to many.

Unlike the safe and usual Christmas Carol animations and movies, this version is eerie. The whole atmosphere in the movie is dark, gray and gothic, which is true to the sense that it mirrors the age of industrialization. It may be animated, but the scenes are for mature imagination and viewing. There were no slapstick and comical moments here. It imitated and brought back the live Ebenezar Scrooge from form to language. Honestly I was worried in the middle of the film that some kids might be wailing their eyes out because the movie was veering towards the scare and fright category. From sound effects to the distorted faces of spirits and heart-pounding chasing scenes, it tickled my horror senses and I knew that it's not a movie that would be universally appreciated by kids. I knew that if I heard a kid cry, that would be the end of it. But I had to condone that there were just some kids asking their parents out loud. I'd have to live with it as long as there was no wailing in the theater.

The movie poses difficulty even for adults to the point that it is too "English." Sometimes the conversations were hard to understand and catch. Even I sometimes had to put an extra effort in deciphering jargons and accents. It was so authentic that one would think of it as a reenactment of Scrooge's life save for the animated aspect of course.

Starred by Jim Carrey and other worthy actors like Bob Hoskins and my favorite Gary Oldman, I expected that it would be little light and funny, but it turned out that it was eerie, authentic and very mature. Some of my friends slept through it. If you're not a fan of animation, 3D and the story itself, the 1 1/2 movie could be easily dragging. The point is, it's not everybody's A Christmas Carol version.

Except for the challeging dialogues and watching it in 3D, I liked how it was interpreted. Animation hid actors and manipulated the look of characters to a tee. The advanced animation enhanced the story more than anything. Since most of us know what the story is about, animation presented to us interpretations never seen and done before. I also liked the eerie brand to it, the dark and gloomy setting with all the chase scenes and confrontations. It deserves a mature audience as it has the capability to scare a faint-hearted adult.

I won't recommend this to people who have problems with their vision unless they are wearing contacts or are used to watching 3D. I'd discourage them from paying a steep price for a ticket for a 1 1/2 hours movie if they won't get to appreciate the authenticity of the animation; and instead have a tendency to develop headaches. The movie is generally darker in hues and atmosphere so visual adjustment and consideration is required.

This is also not your usual family movie especially if you have to bring kids who are not capable enough to adjust their level of imagination. This movie could easily scare them. It has little room for Jim Carreys' brand of humor and jokes. And although not dramatic, it's still eerie and mature.

For those who want to examine the fine multimedia and animation, this is the movie for you. Those who have strong hearts to know the most creative, surprisingly eerie and imaginative version of the story, this would prove worth it. But honestly, if you're just looking for a movie to pass the time, this might easily loose your attention and it's best to just watch New Moon for eye candy especially if you're not into animation.

It was an experience for me, but it's just a movie that I took in as is. I wasn't talkative and excited after I stepped out of the theater. If I was really hyped up, usually I'd indulge people in conversation and highly recommend it to friends through texting. But I was neutral. I appreciated the eerie aspect to it, but there were aspects that made it difficult for me to get hyped up. I knew the people who watched it with me weren't united in this one. Minus the 3D aspect, I'm sure Mitch and his type thought that they should've watched it in cable. IF you're not into animations, it may be a waste of time. But real life adaptations or not, animations may change and interpretations may vary, but there is only one thing that remains true to the core. Ebenezar Scrooge.

If you're a fan of Scrooge, this movie won't hurt given the considerations I've mentioned.

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