Review: Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

christmas-carol-2009

Wild and wacky action starring Ebenezer Scrooge. Because that makes sense.

I happened to watch the 3D animated adaptation of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol by Disney, so here are a few observations about that.

This story is so well known it’s been adapted even by Disney multiple times. But if someone doesn’t know: it’s about the miserly and misanthropic old man Ebenezer Scrooge and how he’s transformed after being visited by four ghosts on the night before Christmas. In this case, Scrooge among others is played by Jim Carrey. It sounds like an odd choice, but whatever works is all right, and it does work. The voice acting is good. The animation is, too. The film was nice to look at, although I wasn’t wowed enough to buy all the showy antics.

The story and scenes follow the original very closely — and the dialogue even more so, almost word for word much of the time. It’s an interesting choice, and it’s fun to hear good actors make that kind of dialogue with the long sentences sound almost natural. There are some subtle changes to the dialogue to make it more understandable, but even after that, some of it can sound a little cryptic, as in the case of the Ghost of Christmas Present. In any case, a lot of the small adjustments to the original dialogue and scenes are actually an improvement over the Dickens story, condensing it and making it run more smoothly. But then there are the other kind of adjustments…

The biggest problem with the movie is that it tries to be funny. This starts right off with the “Marley’s ghost” scene, which I found to be awkward and unenjoyable — too oppressive to be funny but with too much fooling around to be anything else, either. Looking back, this was probably the worst scene, so it does get better. The rest of the time, it just feels like there are pointless little additions. Goofing around in a modern manner doesn’t seem to fit the story, perhaps because the rest of it is so close to the original. (It’s not like Mickey’s Christmas Carol where the ghost of Marley was funny — because he was Goofy.) Overlapping the attempted humour, there’s gratuitous “action” that seems inappropriate or pointless, like mostly realistic looking people suddenly making unrealistic acrobatic moves, and Scrooge’s visions having added high-speed flying or chases. The latter aren’t entirely out of place because the visions are supposed to be harrowing, but they don’t add anything either and aren’t particularly funny. In fact, I suspect they’re in no small part filler to stretch the story to movie length. About the only really funny part was in the end when Scrooge was high on Christmas, and one can see why — that part was supposed to go like that.

In the end, I did enjoy the movie, but not as a comedy. I watched it as a close, well animated, well acted adaptation of the original with some pointless and mildly irritating additions. I have to give it a low score for being an unfunny comedy, but I wouldn’t recommend against watching it if you’re interested. Everything else besides the few glaring bad things is good.

Rating: 2.5/5

Review: Mr. Holmes

Mr HolmesI remember reading years ago that of all fictional characters, Sherlock Holmes had had about the most movie adaptations. In the past several years, this is still easy to believe. Even “different” portrayals of the character now seem commonplace. Nor is it a new idea to make it different. As far back as 1988, the comedy Without a Clue turned the whole concept around by making Dr. Watson the real detective who’s stuck in the shadow of his own literary creation and the actor he hired to play him. And of course there’s the “rodent Sherlock Holmes” Basil of Baker Street made widely known in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective, two years earlier. So now, while I enjoyed Sherlock and to a lesser extent the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film and its sequel A Game of Shadows (and just didn’t see the other recent versions), I’m getting a saturated feeling again. Do we really need more of this? Is there room for yet another adaptation, no matter how different?

It turns out that yes, if it’s different enough, there was room for one more.

Mr. Holmes, an adaptation of the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin, stars Sir Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes in his nineties — and fighting against a seriously deteriorated memory. Continue reading

Review: Spectre

A climactic conclusion to Daniel Craig’s James Bond arc that uses every James Bond cliché but doesn’t manage to do a lot with them that’s interesting.

Towards the end of last year, I got persuaded to see the newest James Bond movie, Spectre, even though I had not seen any of the previous movies since Casino Royale. Since Spectre ties heavily to the earlier installments, I’m obviously not the best person to review it, and I can’t discuss everything… but I do want to say a few things.

The obvious first: If you haven’t seen the other Daniel Craig films, you can watch this one, but it’ll be missing something. As in, “Who the heck are all these people?” Eventually you’ll roughly figure it out, and I was actually informed later on that I wasn’t supposed to know as many things as I thought. This movie makes references back to all the others and ties them all under the theme of “Spectre”, the classic criminal organisation, being behind everything. Of course, this leaves the question of whether it actually makes sense, which I can’t comment on much. I know I didn’t get any sense of “Ohhh, now it all makes sense” about how Casino Royale was tied in. Anyway, you certainly get the feeling that they were going for an epic conclusion. They also make the stakes high in other ways such as having the whole MI6 being threatened.

This movie really uses every Bond cliché: Continue reading

Filosofi Matrixissa

Click here for the English version: A Philosopher in The Matrix

Huomatkaa, etten ole täysin samaa tai täysin eri mieltä kummankaan hahmon kanssa.

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Mies, Jolla On Pitkä Takki Ja Aurinkolasit: Mitä jos kertoisin sinulle… että kaikki, mitä luulit tietäväsi maailmasta, on illuusiota?

Filosofi: En usko, että olisi koherentti ajatus, että kaikki uskomukseni voisivat olla väärässä yhtä aikaa.

MJOPTJA: Niinkö? Mitä jos sanoisin, että maailma, jonka näemme ympärillämme, onkin vain tietokonesimulaatio, ja me olemme todellisuudessa kytkettyinä siihen loputtomissa riveissä sähkölaitoksella, jossa meidät orjuuttaneet tietokoneet käyttävät meitä energian tuottamiseen?

F: Hmmm. En itse asiassa usko, että se vaikuttaisi mihinkään kovin paljoa. Continue reading

A Philosopher in The Matrix

Click here for the Finnish version: Filosofi Matrixissa

Note: I do not fully agree or disagree with either of the characters.

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Man in Trenchcoat and Sunglassses: What if I told you… that everything you thought you knew about the world was an illusion?

Philosopher: Oh, I don’t think it’s a coherent idea that everything I believe can be wrong at the same time.

MiTaS: Is that so? What if I told you that the world we see around is nothing but a computer simulation, and we are really hooked into it in endless rows in a power plant, enslaved by computers who are using us for producing electricity.

P: Hmmm. I don’t think that would make a lot of difference to anything, actually. Continue reading