- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Video Codec: Full HD 3D
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby 2.0 Descriptive Video Services, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Discs: 4 (1 Blu-ray 3D +1 Blu-ray + 1 DVD + Digital Copy)
- Studio: Walt Disney Video
- Blu-ray Release Date: November 16, 2010
- List Price: $49.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Editor’s Note: Portions of this review not specific to this release were previously published in our review for Disney’s A Christmas Carol on Blu-ray.
Charles Dickens’ famous penny pinching, Christmas despising, bah-humbugging Scrooge is brought to life in a motion capture 3D-animated world with Jim Carrey as his voice. The story is well known, Scrooge is taken on a journey through his life by the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and yet to come (all voiced by Carrey) and as a result has a life changing experience that warms his cold heart.
It seems to me producer/director Robert Zemeckis is a bit infatuated with this whole motion-capture process of animation. In recent years he has done The Polar Express, Beowulf, and now A Christmas Carol all using this process. Personally, I admit upfront that I am no fan of this process. It still looks quite creepy to me — humans with vacant eyes. It worked to great effect animating Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, and to a certain extent it made Scrooge seem more “scroogie” in this film, but the motion capture process, coupled with a rather dull screenplay interpretation by Zemeckis leaves this version of A Christmas Carol feeling rather lifeless all around.
With that being said, the 3D effect, which it seems this film was definitely made for, does add another level to Disney’s A Christmas Carol, and livens up the otherwise lifeless motion-capture animation, making it much more tolerable. The effects range from subtle, to more out there, poking out of the screen. The most fun is definitely Mr. Scrooge’s Wild Ride. I have to say that, this is the first time that watching a film in 3D, as opposed to 2D, actually caused me to bump the rating up a notch, unlike The Last Airbender, which phased me not the slightest in its 3D version — it was still a stinker.
With the 2D disc alone, Disney has another winner here with a beautiful, perfect encoding of A Christmas Carol’s 2.40:1 digital source. The textures and details are so clear and crisp they look like you can reach into the screen and touch them. Shadow detail is well extended, colors are vibrant and compression or processing artifacts are not an issue. Adding in the 3D, things really do become much more, er, three-dimensional, and they really do look like you can reach in and touch them. Thanks to some tweaks on my display, ghosting or crosstalk (when the left eye and right eye signals bleed into one another) is minimal and colors and brightness are pretty much the same as in 2D mode. There does seem to be a slight issue with the aspect ratio, showing some thin black bars occasionally on the left and right side of the screen, but, with the technology being so new, I can’t confirm if that is on the disc or due to something inherent in my player or display.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is a fully surrounding and engaging one with the surround channels active much of the time with ambience and atmospheric sound effects as well as discrete sounds being panned through and around the room, off to the sides and so on. Low frequencies are deep, but not booming. High frequencies are smooth and airy and the dynamics sound natural. Dialogue is clean and intelligible as well.
Probably due to bandwidth restraints, the lion’s share of the supplements are provided on the 2D Blu-ray disc, with only two brief 3D featurettes, one promotional in nature, being provided in the Blu-ray 3D disc. The most fun supplements on here will be the Interactive Christmas Calendar, which will give you a new surprise everyday of December, as long as you are willing to put the disc in everyday, and the Behind the Carol: Full Motion Capture Experience picture-in-picture viewing mode that will let you watch the film while seeing the live actors in their full motion capture regalia acting out the scenes.
The supplements provided with this release are:
Blu-ray 3D Disc:
- Mr. Scrooge’s Wild Ride (1080p/24; 3D; 0:02.33) — Discover how 3D helped bring a whole new dimension to Charles Dickens’ classic tale.
- Disney Blu-ray Sneak Peek (1080p/24; 3D; 0:01.25) — Get a 3D sneak peek at Disney’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland, Tron Legacy and more!
- Behind the Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience
- Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:14.43) — Take a peek behind the scenes at the production of A Christmas Carol.
- Countdown to Christmas Interactive Calendar
- On Set With Sammi (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:01.52)
- Deleted Scenes (1080p) — Six deleted scenes.
- Discover Blu-ray 3D with Timon and Pumbaa (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:04.23) — Although it sounds like it, this 3D promotional spot is in plain ol’ 2D.
- DVD — Standard definition DVD of the film included as well.
- Digital Copy — For Mac/PC and iTunes/Windows Media Compatible devices.
The Definitive Word
Jim Carrey does a decent job voicing all the pivotal characters in this motion capture edition of A Christmas Carol, but the dull interpretation of Dickens’ writing means that this version of the holiday classic is more miss than hit. It is still a good family film for the upcoming holiday season, however, and the 3D version rescues the normally lifeless look of the motion-capture animation making it a much more fun film to watch.