03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Movie Review: Disney's A Christmas Carol

Robert Zemeckis has been a relatively unsung innovator in the use of computer-generated and -enhanced imagery in films, in movies such as Death Becomes Her and Forrest Gump.

Perhaps the problem is that his technological advances have been shackled to underwhelming films (i.e., Death Becomes Her). His film version of Chris van Allsburg's The Polar Express was a leap forward in the blending of motion-capture technology with computer animation. But while it gets trotted out on an annual basis, it's an unsatisfying film because the faces (particularly the eyes) of the characters look dead. The same was true of his Beowulf.

Zemeckis has made strides to overcome that problem with Disney's A Christmas Carol, the hubristically titled new version of Charles Dickens' classic story. There are still too many characters whose faces (particularly the eyes) look as lifeless as animatrons from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland - but Zemeckis manages to imbue the most crucial character, Ebenezer Scrooge, with eyes that are alive from start to finish.

(This is, by my count, the third version of Dickens' story that Walt Disney Studios has put out. There was Mickey's Christmas Carol in 1983, a hand-drawn version with Scrooge McDuck as, well, Scrooge. And The Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992 starred Michael Caine as old Ebenezer. The story, however, was always Dickens', as it is now.)

Here's what Zemeckis gets right:


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