Where I watched it: Netflix
English Audio Description Provided By: Descriptive Video Works
I just wrote a review about Spirited where i said explicitly that when you take one of these overadapted stories, you ahve to bring something original to it. Apple seemed ready to go with Spirited, but the Netflix shat out this nonsense.
It’s just a C-Level adaptation of A Christmas Carol, full of forgettable pop songs written sort of in the style of music theatre, that paid for a good cast. in fact, it’s that cast that makes the film worth a damn. Luke Evans, Olivia Coleman, Jessie Buckley, Jonathan Pryce, all appear to have shown up thinking they were making movie magic. Then netflix threw cow vomit in their face and walked away.
Evans, who doesn’t even sound 50, plays the typically miserly Scrooge. And while he has a lovely voice, Netflix decided to trap him deep inside a cave and make him record all his singing there. He sounds like he’s trapped in some cavernous region somewhere, and the only way Netflix is letting him out is if we watch this movie. Then we have Jessie Buckley, who if you are uninformed, probably thought she fell from the sky into her Oscar nomination last year. Actually, Buckley started out a singer, almost winning a competition to play Nancy in a West End revival of Oliver, but went on to do other music theatre stuff instead. She’s proven her worth as a singer many times before. yet here, she’s obviously autotuned. Arguably the best singer in the cast, and they over produced her voice.
Not to mention the music is so forgettable. Except that when the ghost of Christmas present arrives, he’s obviously voiced by a black actor, to which the composers say “fuck it”, and throw out the theme they were going for. I mean, why not? We’ve got a black man here! And we got one that can sing! So we must write him a song with an African beat, and a fucking elephant playing drums. I don’t want to know where that elephant came from, because it makes no sense. But, yeah, I’m sure they thought they were doing some sort of representation, but really it’s more of an offensive means of unnecessarily addressing your decision to have a diverse cast, therefore you must change the music. I wonder if the other ghosts had been from South America and Japan, would those countries have been represented? Is this film like the musical equivalent of Epcot?
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great singer, but when animals show up randomly to play in your band a song set to African themed music, that appears nowhere else in the film, you ahve to wonder… is it me?
You’re now asking why I didn’t totally tank this film. Even though thre’s a farting dog, which I am convinced is only here because kids will not enjoy this film unless a dog farts, and the answer is that the cast, even when not singing all showed up and gave some great vocal performances. Even though we’ve seen these moments a hundred times before, they are competently scripted, and it could be a way to introduce your little ones to A Christmas Carol. Though, there are still a few moments here I would question about the 5 and under crowd. it is rated TV-Y7, and I agree with that.
At the end of the day, I also liked it better still than Disney’s horrendous attempt to pair Robert Zemeckis with Jim Carrey in their version, which ranks still as my least favorite version of the Carol. This isn’t far behind, and I’m not going to recommend this either. This is not a score that means “go see it”. it means that I acknowledge worse films have been made, but i still would tell anyone to pass on this.
The audio description mostly did what I liked, and stayed out of the songs. Not that these songs are winners. I challenge anyone to watch this one time and be able to sing anything from this film. This is where music goes to die.
This cast deserved better, but they are also the only reason I scored this as high as I did. A cast of unknowns would have likely resulted in a lower score.
Final Grade: C-