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“A Christmas Carol” is an early season hit

The old story starts off, “T’was the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” For Ebenezer Scrooge, this sentiment could not be further from the truth!

Everyone, young and old, knows the story behind Robert Zemeckis’ new 3-D adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” A mean, money hungry, old man Scrooge, is visited by four ghosts on Christmas Eve. His old partner Jacob Marley comes to warn him about what his night will hold, and he’s followed soon after by the three ghosts of Christmas: past, present and yet to come.

Each ghost has a moral message for Scrooge, voiced by the hilarious Jim Carrey. Though Scrooge, through advanced 3-D technology, actually looks like an aged Carrey, the well-known funnyman also plays the parts of each Christmas ghost, a testament to his skills, as each character sounds vastly different from the next. The ghost of Christmas past reminds him of the fun Scrooge used to have in the English countryside, a story which turns sour as the miser becomes more involved with money and less taken by his own fiancée. Next, a bulbous ghost of Christmas present shows him the family life of his poor associate Bob Cratchit, whose son Tim is dying due, in part, to their lack of money. He also shows Scrooge his middle-class nephew whom Scrooge has rebuked, but who has found happiness and love without great wealth.

Finally, and most terrifyingly, the ghost of Christmas yet to come appears as a sort of grim reaper, and shows Ebenezer his future if he does not change his money grubbing ways. Though at an old age already, will Scrooge have the time, or even the heart and desire, to change his ways now?

This story has been adapted in so many different ways; it has been an opera twice, featured in many television shows, and adapted countless times by film directors – ranging from a traditional setting to “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” of 1983. It’s been shown in multiple languages worldwide. That being said, Zemeckis’ version is one of the best adaptations out there, most definitely the best modern one showing this approaching Christmas season.

Zemeckis’ success can be attributed to the use of 3-D technology, which the director has used before, most notably in his 2004 “The Polar Express”. Even though not all U.S. movie theaters support the technology needed to show a movie in 3-D, the versions being shown in 2-D are still visually sound. This new type of animation shows its characters and settings in immaculate detail and gives humanized gestures and movements to even the most pointless of background characters. Any audience member will find themselves forgetting that this is, in fact, just an animated film.

Though the movie has received mostly mixed or average reviews, it took number one at the box office last weekend, its opening weekend. The story, unlike many other adaptation plots, stays very true to the original novella, with Carrey touting it as a “classical version of ‘A Christmas Carol’.”

Its only main problem is the fact that it, as an animated flick, is being advertised as a children’s movie. Make no mistake, there are many elements in “A Christmas Carol” not for the faint of heart. There will be parts that will make you jump out of your seat, and others that will make your heart race with fear. The grim reaper’s black stallions take to London’s streets, street urchins become monster-like, and a gruesome ghost’s body parts fall apart. In short, parents should not bring very young children to this movie. They think they’ll leave the movie learning the true meaning of Christmas, but in reality they’ll leave the theater spooked and ready for a good week or so of bed-wetting.

Older kids and adults alike will definitely appreciate the visual effects, which include flying around London and restoring dilapidated mansions to their glory. Anyone already excited for Christmas will find solace in this new version of “A Christmas Carol.” It almost makes ABC Family’s countdown (which began this week) to their Christmas countdown, “25 Days of Christmas” seem a little less ridiculous. Not quite, but almost.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at kaitlynm@student.umass.edu

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