A bright and colourful retelling of Dicken’s classic story
Christmas: it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? For many people, this will be true but not everybody gets excited about the festive season. Some people will be quite stressed about the prospect, perhaps due to the expense, the expectations of others, and the thought of spending time with people they would otherwise avoid during the rest of the year.
For these people, the words “Bah Humbug” probably won’t be too far away from their lips, especially when they become irritated by the excitement of neighbours and co-workers who are brimming over with the Christmas spirit! If they dare to grumble, they may even stand accused of being like Scrooge, probably by somebody wearing a big red hat and a Rudolf-emblazoned jumper!
Some of us can probably relate to the grumpy old moneylender anyway, not because we are greedy like he is but because we might relate to his reasons for hating Christmas. As seen in the many adaptations of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, old Ebenezer is initially portrayed as a somewhat miserly fellow. But when we look deeper into the story, we begin to understand the source of his malcontent and why Christmas isn’t a happy time for him. Comparisons to Scrooge don’t have to be unfavourable if events in our own lives have sucked away our own Christmas spirit!
Of course, if you have seen any version of A Christmas Carol, be that the one with the Muppets, Alastair Sim, or the motion-captured Jim Carrey, you will know that Scrooge goes through a transformation after a few ghostly encounters on Christmas Eve. He regains his Christmas spirit and becomes a much happier person after a few helpful life lessons and after watching his story play out, we might be inspired by his example if we can heed the messages that are woven into the oft-told tale.
A Christmas Carol reminds us of the importance of family and that our time with them is limited. It reminds us that happiness is not found in wealth or gifts but in spending time with the people we love. And it encourages us to reconnect with the person we used to be before the trials of life caused us to become discontent, grumpy, and riddled with regrets about our past mistakes.
For these reasons, we should all make time for Dickens’ classic story, be that the original novel or one of the many movie adaptations that exist, which now includes Scrooge: A Christmas Carol, the latest reworking of the author’s moralistic fable. This new version doesn’t deviate too far away from what has come before but as the messages within are still worth remembering, especially at Christmastime, there is still value in Netflix’s latest animated movie, so you shouldn’t proclaim “bah humbug” if your kids encourage you to watch it with them!
As a movie, it is competently made, with bright and colourful 3D animation, a few decent songs courtesy of late composer Leslie Bricusse and some excellent voicework from its esteemed cast, including Luke Evans as Ebenezer Scrooge, Jonathan Pryce as Jacob Marley, and Olivia Colman as the Ghost of Christmas Past, who all perform their roles with gusto.
The story plays out exactly as you would expect but director Stephen Donnelly still finds ways to retell it in an imaginative way. One scene, where Scrooge falls through time against a backdrop of memory-reflecting mirror pieces, is particularly impressive and there are a handful of other sequences that showcase the creative talents of the animation team. The scenes involving the movie’s ghosts are particularly well done, including one involving the waxwork Ghost of Christmas Past who morphs from a candle into all kinds of other designs, but the whole movie is animated well so there is nothing to grumble about on that front.
As suggested, the movie is predictable, but this can be expected from a story that has been told many times before. However, there are a few new additions which have presumably been included to keep the kids entertained, including a farting dog named Prudence who has become Scrooge’s faithful companion. There is also a group of young street urchins that pop up occasionally throughout the story and there are some flying gerbil-like creatures that make an appearance during Scrooge’s travels through time that will cause younger ones to giggle.
These additions don’t impact the tale in any major way but they will prevent youngsters from getting bored, especially those who may have complained about the absence of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy while watching!
Scrooge: A Christmas Carol will never be considered one of the better adaptations of Dickens’s story but this latest version is enjoyable enough. It still retains the messages of hope and goodwill that many of us need to hear, it packs a visual punch at times, and the musical sequences, which include songs from the 1970 Albert Finney movie Scrooge, aren’t overly-intrusive.
Purists will always prefer the 1951 Alastair Sim version and kids will be far more entertained by A Muppet Christmas Carol but this isn’t the movie equivalent of a Brussels sprout that you may have been expecting. As such, this is just about worth a watch, especially if you are looking for a new telling of Scrooge’s story in place of one of the earlier movie iterations that you have probably seen a hundred times before.
Read More: Scrooge Ending Explained
Verdict - 6.5/10