Sunday, June 21, 2009

Christmas in July? Not This Year

Fans of Disney animation are mostly interested in the latest Pixar entry, Up, and the next Toy Story movie coming in about a year from now. People seeing Up are already getting a look at both.

However, Disney wants people to start thinking about next Christmas, when they're about to present its first Motion Capture animated feature, A Christmas Carol. What better way to do that...than with an old-fashioned train tour?
OK, how does that compare to the usual way, like the internet or even certain sci-fi conventions? It would be cheaper to just go to Comic-Con, and tell people about A Christmas Carol. You just won't be able to get as many people, especially if you're competing against Lost, Transformers, and the latest comic book craze.

No, to get people to embrace Motion Capture movies, and the fact they are becoming much-more lifelike than The Polar Express, you need...

Christmas Carol Caboose

...and some sponsors, like Hewlett-Packard, who helped put the movie together, and Amtrak, for the train.
They started this during Memorial Day Weekend, and will continue it to November first. It's quite an exhibit. Here's a sample of what families saw when the tour reached Old Sacramento...

Yes, Scrooge was as tiny as Tim

Yes, even animated movies need costumes

Some Dickens memorabilia, too

Two faces of Dickens

Scrooge and Marley model

Motion Capture Center

Visit this link to see the rest of the photos I took. Nowhere else will you see a Victorian Christmas Choir with kazoos.

The real test, of course, is the film itself. They provided a couple of scenes, including the classic scene where Scrooge sees Marley's ghost. The 3-D effect is outstanding, and seeing Jim Carrey bring Scrooge to life is just great. He's always been a great mimic (you should see his Jimmy Stewart from the early '80s). Also, there's not much concern about recreating flesh-and-blood people, as there was in Beowulf or Polar Express. It's retelling one of the great stories of our time, but in a brand new way. We all have out own favorite versions of A Christmas Carol, whether it has Alistair Sim, Blackadder or Mr. Magoo as Scrooge. Seeing Motion Capture Scrooge up close as the picture of Victorian selfishness, complete with "bah,humbug" in 3-D, gives you a special holiday feeling. As with the two previous Motion Capture pictures, Robert Zemeckis directed this movie. It's not that surprising, since he's the man who directed Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Disney is smart to spend the cash for a nationwide tour. It keeps this movie in the minds of movie fans, even though it will be competing with summer blockbusters. In the long run, this tour will reach thousands more than one quick panel in San Diego.

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