04 December 2013

Movie Review: "A Christmas Carol" (1999)

Rated: G (Canadian Home Video Rating)
Starring: Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant, and Joel Grey
Released: December 5, 1999 (television premiere) / November 7, 2000 (DVD)
Synopsis: Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation, X-Men) breathes new life into the classic Dickens Yuletide tale! Miserly old Scrooge despises Christmas, and calls it a "humbug."  One night, he gets visited by three spirits: one who shows what was, one who shows what is, and one who shows what could be to come.  Will Scrooge end his miserly ways?
(Oh, come on; like you don't already know the story?)

Artistic Merit

Plot: 4.5/5
You can't beat the classics.  Seriously, if the original Dickens story was worthless, how could it have survived all these years?  Still, there are a few slow moments.

Production Values: 4/5
The acting is excellent, especially from Mr. Stewart.  The special effects are mostly great, though I did feel that one or two such scenes were a bit lackluster.  The soundtrack is good, but nothing special.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 5/5
Scrooge learns the error of his ways and makes a change for the better.  (You already knew that, right?) Also, the true reason for Christmas is shown more than in other holiday movies, as attending church is both mentioned and seen, and religious Christmas carols--"Silent Night," "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"--are heard.

Sexual Content: 5/5

Nudity: 4.5/5
A few women are seen in off-the-shoulder and/or low-cut dresses.

Language: 4/5
The d-word is used a time or two, and God's name is misused once or twice.  Name-calling is also present.

Violence: 4.5/5
Kids throw snowballs at Scrooge, and he throws them back.

Drugs: 4/5
Some people drink at holiday parties.

Frightening/Intense Scenes: 2.5/5
The Ghost of Christmas Present shows two children, who are described as Ignorance and Want, and are rather repulsive-looking (intentionally so, mind you.)  Also, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a mute, dark specter who has rather creepy eyes.  I can't help but think that those two things alone would have caused the MPAA to rate this "PG," especially by the tighter standards of 1999.
Also, a possible future situation shows the deaths of two characters, one of whom is Scrooge; his grave opens up, and he falls onto his own dead body before waking up.

Final Score: 3/5
I got this movie last year at a nearby garage sale, and finally got around to watching it in bits and pieces over the past two weeks or so.  Now that I have finished it, I don't think I will ever be watching it again.  Though there have been countless interpretations of Dickens' Yuletide ghost story, the one I grew up with was The Muppet Christmas Carol; in fact, I think that's the only version of the story I've seen more than once.  Sure, it's got the Muppet brand of silliness, but, when I watch other versions, they just don't seem to stack up...and that's exactly the case with this one.  If you're looking for a little-known Christmas movie this holiday season, this one might be worth a try; still, a rental is all I can suggest.

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