A Christmas Carol: 3D Super Play

Carrey's Christmas-hating miser is well worth donning those silly 3D spex for

A Christmas Carol as envisaged by Robert Zemeckis, is a rather darker retelling of the Dickens classic than you mighty imagine from the Disney Empire. It also has the distinction of being the first 3D Blu-ray from the 'House of the Mouse'. While some might argue that Toy Story 3 should have led the charge, this is actually the better choice. Despite a requirement to wear spex theatrically, Toy Story 3D is a flat viewing experience. This is much more in, on and around your face. 

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that there’s no big surprise; the story is as faithful as a Labradore puppy. But that doesn’t mean it lacks chills. On the contrary, this is a cracking Christmas ghost story, only mildly derailed by token attempts at slapstick.   

Director Zemeckis revisits the mo-cap techniques he employed in The Polar Express and Beowulf, only this time around the character performances and likenesses are a lot more convincing: Scrooge clearly is Jim Carrey in everything but flesh, while Gary Oldman and Colin Firth make distinct and identifiable contributions.

Bizarrely, this triple disc set contains two Blu-rays. One 3D, the other 2D. Given that the 3D BD specification supports backwards compatibility this decision to issue separate discs seems unnecessarily profligate. The third platter is not a DVD, but a Digital Copy disc. Stateside this is a four disc set, with the missing DVD platter.

Picture: Image quality on both Blu-rays is deep and crisp and even. The clarity of the CG rendering is outstanding – but to see it at its best you’ll need to view the 2D version. Here the quasi-photorealistic world of Dickens’ London has an undeniable beauty. The exquisite textures and subtlety in the rendering are compromised in 3D, thanks to a combination of crosstalk effects (from the TV) and increased dimness (from the glasses). That said, of the admittedly few 3D Blu-rays to break cover this year, this is one of the most enjoyable. The CG really allows Zemekis to play with parallax. The opening sequence which flies us over London through a snow storm is exhilarating, and when the hellish steed of the ghost of Christmas yet to come glowers into your face, it’s enough to boggle your mince pies.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Sonically, this disc is a Christmas cracker. Scrooge’s spectral apparitions gain fearsome solidity from the 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix, particularly the ghost of Jacob Marley, who returns weighed down with clanking chains wrapped around thwumping cash-boxes. When Scrooge is miniaturized during his flight from the Grim Reaper (surely a sequence devised purely to justify a theme park ride), the sound design leaves you deliciously giddy. Alan Silvestri’s score is less imaginative, primarily because he deliberately draws on all manner of seasonal influences. The result is an effective, if somewhat generic score. 
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Scrooge’s supplementals are as light and fluffy as freshly fallen snow. The 3D disc offers (logically) three dimensional extras. Keep your glasses on for both the Making Of Scrooge’s Wild Ride and Sneek Peak.  Flip to the 2D edition, and the highlight is Capturing Dickens. There’s also the self-explanatory On set with Sammi (Hanratty, a young actress who performs several characters), some deleted scenes and an ‘interactive’ Advent calendar. Don’t get too excited about the Discover Blu-Ray 3D With Timon and Pumbaa short though. We couldn’t make out who this clunky infomercial was aimed at.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: This ghost story works its 3D schtick well; you’ll love the way Scrooge’s schnozzle and chin loom menacingly out of the screen

Walt Disney Home Entertainment, All-region BD, £30 approx, On sale now