Scrooge: A Christmas Carol

One of the most redone and rebooted stories of all time is the Christmas classic by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. There are dozens of versions of the novel on the screen and stage over the years. Netflix has jumped back into this well once again with a new animated film that returned us to the well worn story of Ebenezer Scrooge.

As we know from the classic tale, Scrooge (Luke Evans) was a miserly businessman who thought Christmas was a ‘humbug.’ When he was approached on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley (Jonathan Pryce) who warned Scrooge that he would be haunted by three ghosts in an attempt to save Scrooge from a fate worse than death. Scrooge then departs on trips to the past, present and the future to see Christmastime in a new light.

While the original story is flawless, this new version of A Christmas Carol has some strange choices and, in the end, feels like it is lacking the magic of several of the other adaptations.

Luke Evans is fine as Scrooge. Some of the other voices involved in the film do fine work too. Jonathan Pryce, Olivia Colman, James Cosmo, Jessie Buckley, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Jemima Lucy Newman, Rupert Turnbull, Johnny Flynn, and Fra Free provide their voices adequately.

Some of the odd choices really pulled me out of the film. For some reason, they gave Scrooge a dog named Prudence. It appeared as if Prudence was left to Scrooge after the death of Jacob Marley. I have no idea as to why the producers of the film felt the need to insert a dog into the story. Prudence brought nothing of significance to A Christmas carol and just gave one more character in the background.

They also seemed to \change names of some of the characters from the story. Scrooge’s sister Fan became Jenn. Scrooge’s nephew became Harry instead of Fred. The flipped around some of the Cratchit family names as well. This may seem to be a minor point, but I do not understand the reasoning behind any of this and, because of that, I was distracted by the new and, not better, names.

I disliked the character designs, especially that of The Ghost of Christmas Past and The Ghost of Christmas Present. Both of these characters were very interesting as they have both been considerably more interesting than we get here. Past became way too energetic and I did not like the manner in which she was presented. I assume they did this to give Olivia Colman more of a character to play, but the trade off was not worth it.

Ghost of Christmas Present was accompanied by little creatures called Cheerlings, which were little spirit like things that felt more like the Minions than anything else and were there for no reason outside of a few sight gags. They are there to engage the children watching the film so they do not have to worry about things like plot.

The songs were mostly forgettable. As I sit here now, I cannot remember anything about any of them. They were fine in the moment, but I have no desire to hear them again.

Most of the changes that they made to the story just did not work and took away from the overall narrative.

The sad fact is, Netflix clearly wanted an animated version of the classic story for families to watch together. If you want a family version of Charles Dickens’ classic, I would suggest you watch Disney’s A Christmas Carol with Jim Carrey or the brilliant Muppets Christmas Carol, my own personal favorite version of the story in any format. Scrooge: A Christmas Carol takes the familiar story and does nothing of interest with it.

2.5 stars

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