And then you sit down and watch it and discover, well, yes, some admittedly odd animation (and more on that in a second) but an overall excellent adaptation that delivers the original Dickensian spirit in spades. Rather than update or "reimagine" (and seriously, don't even get me started on what Tim Burton appears to have done to Alice in Wonderland), Zemeckis does what anybody with sense would do: start with Dickens' novel and don't bugger about with it too much.
Yes, there are some flights of fancy (I don't remember Scrooge shrinking to the size of a mouse and being pursued by the Horses of Hell through the streets of London, for example) but for the most part this is wonderfully faithful telling that's stuffed full of speeches that appear, if memory serves, to have been taken straight from the source. There's no mollycoddling of modern children, no attempt to soften Scrooge or turn him into a comedy turn and no shirking from the story's moral. It might feature very modern techniques (and some excellent 3D work) but this is Dickens' story all the way.
Carrey is superbly cantankerous as the voice of Scrooge and completely unrecognisable as the voices of the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come. You might not approve entirely of the accents (Past appears to be a simpering Irish candle, Present is... well, Billy Connolly meets Santa via Dublin and, apparently, Melbourne) but it's easy to overlook the geographical wandering when the film is so beautiful to watch.
As mentioned above, Zemeckis' insistence on using his actors' own images in the animation (a la Tom Hanks in Polar Express and pretty much everyone in Beowulf) doesn't always work. Firth, as Scrooge's cheery nephew Fred, is oddly squashed and crumpled but still fares better than Gary Oldman's Bob Cratchit who appears to be about 4' 7" and part-troll. But again, the positives outweigh the oddities by a considerable margin and Scrooge's transformation from money-grabbing curmudgeon to thoroughly decent, generous chap is still a moving and heartwarming delight. All in all, a very pleasant surprise.
STUART O'CONNOR ON THE 3D BLU-RAY: Even though 3D televisions and Blu-ray players have been on the market in the UK since about March, this is only the second film to be released in this format to buy (the first was Sony's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs). Yes, others are available (such as Coraline, and Monsters vs Aliens) but they are currently bundled with specific players, and will be for a while yet. So if you're one of the early adopters, then hooray: you can now double your 3D Blu-ray library. And if you do rush out and buy A Christmas Carol, then you won't be disappointed. The film looks just as good as it did up there on the big screen in whichever cinema you went and saw it in last year. With the exception of some occasional ghosting, which I put down to the player itself (the technology is very much first generation), this is very much an exceptional home 3D experience.
EXTRAS ★★★ The 3D Blu-ray Triple Pack comes with three discs – the 3D Blu-ray disc, a 2D Blu-ray disc, and a DVD. The 3D disc has the feature film itself, plus two 3D bonus features: Mr Scrooge's Wild Ride (2:33), in which cast and crew talk about the 3D filmmaking process; and trailers for two other Disney 3D Blu-ray releases, Bolt and Alice in Wonderland. The 2D Blu-ray features Capturing Dickens: A Novel Retelling (14:43), which goes behind the scenes to look at the motion capture process used to make the film; half a dozen deleted scenes; On Set With Sammi (1:52), a very quick set visit with Sammi HanRatty, who plays one of the Cratchit kids; an interactive Countdown to Christmas calendar; and Discover 3D Blu-ray with Timon and Pumba (4:23). Surprisingly, no director's commentary from Zemeckis, which would have been a nice extra feature. And finally, the DVD contains the feature film, plus the same bonus material as teh 2D Blu-ray, as well as Dylan & Cole Sprouse: Blu-ray Is Suite (4:45), a couple of twins who do something or other on The Disney Channel, raving about how good Blu-ray is.