Monday, December 6, 2010
Christmarathon Day 6: A Christmas Carol (1999)
Patrick Stewart is a brilliant actor, the sets were fantastic, the adaptation was maybe the most faithful version of the novel yet filmed, and the supporting cast was full of great actors like Joel Grey, Richard e. Grant, and Dominic West. But even still... it was just boring. Honestly, it just felt like a vanity project that was put together just because Stewart wanted to play Scrooge.
And that's not all together a bad thing, since Stewart's performance was impeccable. This is to be excepted from such an actor, but it was still an outstanding performance from a man who has never been bad in anything over the course of his career. He has been less that great on occasion (like in Moby Dick, where his histrionics went to such extremes that they became almost comical), but he's actually more subtle here, which served the character well. Even though his performance was passionate and emotional, it never quite reached the hamminess of his "the line must be drawn hee-ah!! This fah, no further!!" speech in First Contact. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think anybody does hammy histrionics as brilliantly as Patrick Stewart, but it's also nice to see him go for subtlety. He really is a wonderful actor.
But still... this was boring. It didn't help that it was the 800th adaptation we've all seen of the story by Dickens. This one wasn't bad, it just didn't stand out all that much. It did nothing all that new or better than we've already seen. The only reason to watch is because of the lead performance by Stewart, but I can think of a few dozen episodes of Next Generation that were a far better showcase of is acting talents. If you want to watch Stewart give a brilliant performance, watch the episode the Inner Light. If you want to watch a great adaptation of A Christmas Carol, the 1951 version starring Alastair Sim is still the one to see, in my opinion.
However, it's not a bad film by any means. I just didn't love it all that much and thought that some earlier versions of the story were superior. But if you have never seen a production of the Christmas Carol, this one is certainly worth watching, since it is very good looking and has a wonderful cast. And, no matter how many times you see it nor how many times it has been adapted, parodied, or copied, it's still as timeless a story as the world has ever seen.