Christmas Carol, A (3D)

Featured In Issue 157, May/June 2011

3D Picture5
WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Walt Disney Home Entertainment
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Robert Zemeckis
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Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Disney's A Christmas Carol is the unique interpretation of Charles Dickens' beloved tale—a high-flying, heartwarming adventure for the whole family. When the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet To Come take penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge (Carrey) on an eye-opening journey, he discovers the true meaning of Christmas—but he must act on it before it's too late. This is Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's first Blu-ray™ 3D release. (Gary Reber)

Special features on the four-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3D Disc, Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and Digital Copy) include an exclusive 3-D bonus feature "Mr. Scrooge's Wild Ride," which explores how 3-D technology brought a whole new dimension to the story, from the Ghost of Christmas Past whisking Scrooge through time, to the look and feel of the characters in 19th Century London; the featurette Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling (HD 14:43); On Set With Sammi, in which star Sammi Hanratty shares a kid's eye view of an "anything-but-average" day on the set (HD 01:52); six deleted scenes with an introduction by Director Robert Zemeckis (HD 08:50); Discover Blu-ray 3D With Timon & Pumbaa (HD 04:23); a Countdown To Christmas Interactive Calendar; Behind The Carol: The Full Motion Capture Experience Bonus View picture-in-picture viewing mode; the featurette Capturing A Christmas Carol, with actress Jacquie Barnbrook hosting a journey through the creative process; up-front previews; and a digital copy of the movie.

Theatrically, A Christmas Carol was released in Disney Digital 3D, D-Cinema 3D, and IMAX DMR 70 mm blowup dual-strip 3D. The 2.40:1 1080p MVC 3-D picture is absolutely wonderful! The opening continuous fly-by shot establishes the extensive dimensional depth to the imagery, beginning with three-dimensional perspectives of early 19th Century London streets amongst falling snowflakes that float from within the scene toward and into the viewing space. The scene is breathtaking and thrilling, exhibiting incredible perceptible depth. That's just the beginning. Throughout, the sense of realistic depth and dimension is impressive, both in bold and in subtle ways. The effect is spellbinding! At times objects seemingly extend out from the screen, yet never impart a gimmicky feel. One impressive scene is when Scrooge has to pay the coffin maker for the wood casket of his previous associate. The interplay of shadows and color, as well as perspective, is captivating. The color palette is warm and vivid, with nicely saturated hues that are distinguished against the larger backdrops of shades of brown and gray. Fleshtones are perfectly natural. And yet this is a "performance" motion capture animated mixture, which is very imaginative and similar in visual effect to Director Robert Zemeckis' Polar Express and Beowulf. The technology is computer animation, where performers wear tights covered with sensors so that a computer can duplicate their movements. The 3-D production design is stunning, yet, Zemeckis doesn't allow the technology to overwhelm the story. Impressively, the transparent ghosts, particularly old man Marley, are expressed with a sense of uncanny dimensional volume. Contrast is excellent, but much of the imagery is rendered in dark interior environments and requires viewing in a darkened environment, preferably a black room, using a 3-D display with excellent native contrast performance for the best visual experience. Blacks are deep and solid throughout, with excellent shadow delineation, even during scenes with darkened and shadowy environs, which play prominently in the storytelling. The picture is absolutely pristine, with no trace of double image ghosting. This is an amazing visual experience in 3D and exhibits excellent resolution, with every detail in facial features and object textures impressively rendered. The extraordinary richness in the detailing is evident from the very first frame with Ebenezer Scrooge's heavily wrinkled skin and facial features clearly depicted. The various brick facades of the buildings and the texture of furniture and objects is impeccably detailed. This is an amazing visual work even in 2D that is sure to engage all audiences with its gloriously imaginative imagery. But when viewed in 3D, the visual experience is extraordinary! The 3D is faultlessly perfect. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is wonderfully dimensional as well, with an aggressive holosonic® soundfield presence that projects impressive spatial cues. The sound is dynamic, with careful attention paid to low-level ambient sounds, as well as powerfully loud segments. Sound effects are directionalized and panned effectively, to define the spatiality of each scene. Low-level atmospheric effects and Foley are impressively captured and presented. Dialogue is directionalized across the front stage, with good imaging, to match on-screen locations. Dialogue sounds natural and intimate, with good articulation and spatial integration, using a technique to add emphasis to the on-screen characters while maintaining some center energy. The dialogue production is exemplary, with well-recorded voices that sound very natural and remarkably well-integrated with the visuals. Low-frequency effects in the .1 LFE channel, at times, are powerfully energized to sub-25 Hz frequencies. Surround envelopment and the sense of soundfield dimensionality is present throughout the soundtrack, with impressive directional and panned sound effects. The scene with the Ghost Of Christmas Present is voluminous, with an incredible sense of reflective sound filling up the soundfield. The orchestral and choral music score is wonderful, with a sweeping soundstage that is wide and deep and extends into the surrounds. This is a perfectly engaging soundtrack experience that is sure to emotionally charge. (Gary Reber)