Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Alright, when I first heard about this, I had no anticipation whatsoever. And to be quite honest, up until 4 hours ago, I had very very very little anticipation. I mean, I love Robert Zemeckis. But lets face it, dude hasn't done really anything really really really good since 1990. I mean, Death Becomes Her was hoot and a holler (yes, I used that phrase) when I was a kid, but Ill never watch it willingly again. Forrest Gump, I was never really a fan of. Contact was alright, I guess. What Lies Beneath I heard was awful. And Cast Away I actually did like. But like I said, it wasn't really really really good. And now, 5 years later, we get Robert Zemeckis' 3 motion-capture films. Ill outright and say it, Ive never seen The Polar Express. Didn't look bad, just never saw it. But Beowulf was terrible. Now, Im not certain as to why I really hated it. Whether it was that... It was a pile of shit. Or was it that... I was at my theatre until 3 in the morning splicing together a film that I dropped in the projection booth, and THEN decided to have my own little screen of Beowulf at 4 in the morning? To be quite honest, I think the movie just blew. Well before I get too off-track before I even start this little write-up, I walked into the theatre tonight on the opposite side of the "3D motion-capture" fence. And I walked out... Inside the fence.
First off, Ive never seen a 3D feature film in theatres. Ive seen those 20-minute 3D shows that they have at Universal and Disney and whatnot, but Ive never seen a feature-length film in 3D. And ignorantly, Id bash any 3D film that would come out recently (from late 2007 and on). But I did so with good reason, I think. When I think "3D", I think cheap, gimmicky, just-for-3D shots. But what stuck in my head since this past June, was what John Lasseter (Pixar head honcho) said about UP in 3D. He said that they use it to submerse yourself into that world. To make you feel as if you're in that world. And when I watched A Christmas Carol tonight, I felt as if I was actually in the room at times. And during those moments, I thought of what John Lasseter had said. And from that moment on, I had a new love for what is 3D.
Now this write-up isn't so much a praise for A Christmas Carol, as much as it is a write-up for just the experience as a whole. I mean, the night started off shitty in the first place. First of all, no one wanted to go (understandable). But I said fuck it, and figured Id spend a night with myself, Nerd Rope, Peanut M&M's, Now and Laters, popcorn, and Coke. Secondly, I locked my keys in my car (in which I had to call my dad to pick up my mom's keys from the house). But then, I saw the first trailer in 3D, and it was incredible. The movie looked ass, but the 3D looked phenomenal. And then the movie started. I remember I saw Capitalism: A Love Story with my sister a couple weeks back, because she wanted to. And there was this guy, all alone laughing at all the stuff that Micheal Moore was saying. But not just laughing, laughing as if he wanted to let everyone know Michael Moore was telling lies or something (probably was, but I couldnt care less). Anyway, the guy looked pathetic and crazy. And Im fairly certain that is what the family 2 rows behind me thought when the opening titles came up for A Christmas Carol. I literally said aloud stupid shit like "that looks fantastic!", and "that looks incredible!". I was just so amazed as to what I was missing out on these couple years. And that was just the opening titles. And all of the "gimmicky" shots that wouldn't have been in the film had it not been 3D... Well, they didnt bother me. I think due to the film being all motion capture animation, the level of realism and reality played well with the "gimmicks". I mean, if The Coens did a 3D live action movie and threw those gimmicks in there, there would be a major problem. But with animation it works. So my number one gripe with 3D was out the window. My second gripe isn't with 3D, but with motion capture. And that is the stiffness of the animation. I remember in Beowulf, there was so much stiffness with the arms, the legs, the necks, all of that. Everything in Beowulf moved like the disguised alien woman in the White House in Mars Attacks. But A Christmas Carol didn't have that problem so much.
Okay, Ive heard some people complain about the photo-realism of this film. And clearly, they need to fuck themselves in the face. This movie did not go for the fully for photo-realism. I dont know how you figure that complaint could stick to a film like this. This film was meant to be semi-cartoony. Not fully, but there are certain aspects of the film that are definitely meant to be cartoony. Now Beowulf? Complain all you want, because it was meant to be all photo-realistic, and it wasn't. It was stiff and totally bad. But A Christmas Carol certainly succeeded in what it was going for. But there are 2 scenes, or sequences that I thought were fucking incredible. The first being with The Ghost of Christmas past. There is a scene where Scrooge has blasted off into the sky, and his metal flame-coverer dissipates into glowing purple, yellow, and blue dust, and he's falling in front of the moon, I thought that was an INCREDIBLE scene to see in 3D. And the second is the sequence with The Ghost of Christmas Present, where Scrooges living room floor becomes translucent. I thought that was phenomenal.
Now it may sound as if Im praising the film. But really, Im not. Im praising the experience. This is my first of the whole slew of 3D films to come out in the past 2 years. So once I see maybe 3 or 4 more, I can step back and really look at what "good 3D" really is. I mean, Pixar's UP is one of highest rated films of all-time, and yet I hear the 3D was okay. But then I hear the 3D in My Bloody Valentine was great. And that movie looked like dogshit. So Im hoping to catch a good film, with good 3D. And I THINK A Christmas Carol is that. Definitely the most fun I had out of all the Christmas Carol movies. I still think Scrooged is the best. With Patton's A Christmas Carol right behind that (eventhough I havent seen that since middle school). But until I get a few more films in, I wont be able to separate the experience from the film. I had a fucking great time.
Now... My Avatar anticipation is in full-gear.

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