Christmas is coming early this year — before Thanksgiving, even — and thanks to MTV’s exclusive weeklong look at the fall’s most anticipated movies, a sneak peek at Jim Carrey’s [movie id=”356080″]”A Christmas Carol”[/movie] is arriving even sooner.
And, oh, how much Jim Carrey there will be in this familiar story from Charles Dickens about penny-pinching senior citizen Ebenezer Scrooge and the series of apparitions who pay him visits on Christmas Eve. Carrey plays Scrooge and all three ghosts, but he didn’t have to spend hours in the makeup chair to shape-shift from character to character. “Carol” utilizes the same motion-capture technology that was mocked in 2004’s “The Polar Express” (those dreaded “dead eyes,” which left Tom Hanks looking far from human) and commended in 2007’s “Beowulf” (a sopping-wet Angelina Jolie rising provocatively from a shadowy lake).
As co-star Bob Hoskins explained to MTV News, the mo-cap technology has caught up with the demands of cinematic storytelling and has now liberated directors and actors from the confines of traditional moviemaking.
“It’s extraordinary,” he said. “Usually you’ve got to be aware technically what you’re doing, the angle of the camera. Now they’ve got a 360-degree angle on you. They can take it from any position they like and surround you with a setting of their choice. There’s an amazing freedom.”
Perhaps the downside is dressing up each day in those silly looking skintight mo-cap suits with the sensors everywhere and a helmet with two cameras pointed directly at your face. “But no one’s gonna see that — ever!” laughed the 66-year-old British actor.
Hoskins plays two characters, Mr. Fezziwig and Old Joe (“Fezziwig is pure joy and Joe is pure craft,” he said), who appear during Scrooge’s ghost-assisted journeys through time. Joining Carrey and Hoskins in the cast are heavyweights Gary Oldman and Colin Firth.
Even as the capability of the mo-cap technology has increased to the point where eye movement can now be recorded, the question on the minds of many moviegoers will be, Does it look real, human? The filmmakers respond with an emphatic yes.
“I think you should be prepared to be blown away,” Michael Lantieri, the special effects supervisor on the film, told MTV News in the spring. “I’ve seen some things that I haven’t seen before.”
That’s an enticing proclamation coming from someone who has worked with “Carol” director Robert Zemeckis on groundbreaking special effects films like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Back to the Future Part II.” It’s not only that the technical advancement of mo-cap has given filmmakers an entirely new sandbox in which to play. As Hoskins explained, the achievement of “Carol” (out November 6) is tied to Zemeckis’ unique directorial approach.
“There’s a lot of freedom working with Bob,” he said. “He surrounds you with this technical brilliance, but within it you’re completely free. Jim Carrey is free to do what he likes, and it’s incredible.”
From the sexy Megan Fox in “Jennifer’s Body” to the black-clad warriors of “Ninja Assassin,” the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest flicks of Fall 2009. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films’ biggest stars.
Check out everything we’ve got on “A Christmas Carol.”
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