It’s another time-travel movie from the man behind the “Back to the Future” trilogy. It’s a chance for Jim Carrey to play a handful of characters at once. And it’s yet another leap forward for a cinematic technology that was scoffed at when it was widely used for the first time in a big budget film.
“A Christmas Carol” utilizes the same motion-capture technology that was panned in 2005’s “The Polar Express” (those dreaded “dead eyes,” which left Tom Hanks looking less than human) and applauded in 2007’s “Beowulf” (Angelina Jolie rising provocatively from a murky lake). Since then, the computer-driven capabilities have only increased, and the special effects wizard working side-by-side with director Robert Zemeckis (“Back to the Future”) on “Christmas Carol” can’t wait for audiences to get a peek at what they were able to pull off.
“I think you should be prepared to be blown away,” Michael Lantieri, the special effects supervisor on the film, told MTV News. “I’ve seen some things that I haven’t seen before.”
That’s a tantalizing statement coming from someone whose credits include groundbreaking special effects films like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “Back to the Future Part II” and “Jurassic Park.”
“‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit,’ that I did with [Zemeckis], we took cartoons and put them into a real environment,” said Lantieri. “What we’re doing now is taking people and putting them into a nonexistent environment, which is just 180 degrees out of what we were doing.”
“Christmas Carol,” based on the well-known Charles Dickens’ tale, follows penny-pinching Ebenezer Scrooge, who over the course of one night travels through time to visit his past, present and future. Carrey will play Scrooge at various ages, plus the three different Ghosts that lead him on his journey. Portraying so many unique characters convincingly would not have been possible with the early motion-capture technology, according to Lantieri.
“There used to be limits because of the amount of data that you could retain when you’re capturing,” he explained. “You couldn’t do crowd scenes. Now we can capture more information, which will make the eye blinks and the eye movements beyond anything you’ve ever seen.”
All of which means that when “Christmas Carol” hits theaters this November, we’ll begin to forget about our initial resistance to motion-capture technology. “It’s at the point where people are going to say, ‘Oh, I get it now,’” Lantieri said, before giving us a tease of what we’ll be seeing in years to come.
“The next step—and it’s currently happening—is to do [motion-capture] in combination with outdoor, real-time photography and mix it up,” he said. “I think you’re a year away from seeing some startling stuff.”
How do you feel about motion-capture technology? What do you think about the chance to see Carrey play so many different characters?