Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a story that I enjoy very much and I like to check out as many adaptations of it as I can and oh boy, there are a lot! There are silent versions, live-action versions, animated versions, musical versions, etc. One of my favorite adaptations is the live-action 1970 musical film, Scrooge, starring Albert Finney as the stingy, curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge.
I thought the songs (by Leslie Bricusse) were mostly well-written, the acting was wonderful, and the overall film was delightful. I was surprised to discover that an animated remake of the film would be coming to Netflix entitled Scrooge: A Christmas Carol.
What did I think of this animated remake directed by Stephen Donnelly? Read on to find out!
(Caution, there will be spoilers!)
I’m not gonna spend much time on the story as I’m sure you all know it by now. An elderly, stingy man named Ebenezer Scrooge (voiced by Luke Evans) is given an opportunity to change his ways by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley (voiced by Jonathan Pryce). He’s subsequently visited by three more ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past (voiced by Olivia Colman), the Ghost of Christmas Present (voiced by Trevor Dion Nicholas), and the Ghost of Christmas Future. They show him scenes from all three time periods of his life in an effort to get him to repent and reform.
And honestly, I don’t know what to think of this version. Firstly, it doesn’t even seem like a remake of the 1970 version! Yes, some things are similar like the usage of some songs and brief scenes, but a lot of it seems entirely new like just another adaptation of A Christmas Carol!
Instead of familiar dialogue from the book, we get brand-new dialogue that’s missing the charm and is more aimed towards kids. Instead of familiar scenes such as Scrooge flying out the window with the Ghost of Christmas Past, we get Scrooge falling through a wormhole of sorts with the Ghost of Christmas Past.
The songs are a mixture of being from the original film and the subsequent stage musical adaptation as well as being brand-new for this film. And I’m honestly disappointed in them. The original songs have been totally changed in terms of tempo, style, and even length (they did my favorite Thank You Very Much dirty!) while the new songs are just as forgettable and don’t seem to be Leslie Bricusse-quality. It makes me wonder if another lyricist worked with Leslie Bricusse on the new songs.
Also the singing, while technically good, isn’t what I expect or want to hear from A Christmas Carol characters. I don’t want to hear Scrooge sound like Hugh Jackman from The Greatest Showman. A friend reviewer of mine, Jonathan North, referred to many of the songs as being rock operas, which describes them perfectly. No, I don’t want to hear Evita when I’m watching A Christmas Carol. Yes, the singing by Luke Evans and Jessie Buckley (who voices his love interest, Isabel) is great, but totally out of place for this film.
The animation and overall film seem to be aimed at kids although there are some very freaky scenes such as the Ghost of Christmas Past’s face melting off and the Ghost of Christmas Present transforming devilishly into the Ghost of Christmas Future. But, there were some things I did enjoy such as the overall design of the Ghost of Christmas Past.
The film is dedicated to Leslie Bricusse who died last year and besides writing the lyrics, he’s credited as a producer. My biggest question is why was this film made in the first place? Were people clamoring for an animated remake of the 1970 Scrooge film? Was this Leslie Bricusse’s idea? I have so many questions and the Internet hasn’t provided any answers.
In the end, I don’t know what to make of this film. It’s not a good film, it’s not a bad film, and I wouldn’t even call it an okay film. You will definitely be entertained and stimulated while watching this film. But I’m not promising that it’ll be good entertainment or stimulation. I would just recommend sticking to the original 1970 film!