IT’S NEVER too early to embrace a little festive spirit and Disney’s new 3-D version of A Christmas Carol should warm even the coldest heart.

This beautifully animated interpretation of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge’s redemption after visits from three terrifying ghosts stays faithful to Dickens’ classic tale.

The ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future (all played by Jim Carrey) force Scrooge (also played by Carrey) to face up to his mistakes and change his ways before it is too late.

But, be warned, director Robert Zemeckis’ story has some surprisingly chilling moments – including a visit from his dead business partner Marley (played by Gary Oldman) – which may frighten young children.

Motion capture animation, which uses the voiceover actors’ physical characteristics and performances to create the animated characters, is used to marvellous effect here. The remarkably lifelike ‘cast’ and the detailed animation of streets, homes and workplaces bring Victorian London vividly to life.

But the best scenes are the swooping shots over the city and countryside – such as the opening sequence and when the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to his childhood village – and the 3-D really adds to this.

The effervescent Carrey does his usual over-the-top thing but it kind of works here, especially as he is playing so many roles, although his accents do waver a little and the Ghost of Christmas Present is voiced as a generic Northerner swinging between Scouse, Mancunian and Yorkshireman.

Colin Firth is good in the small role of Scrooge’s kind-hearted nephew Fred and Gary Oldman is suitably scary as Marley and appropriately downtrodden as Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit.

Zemeckis set the bar so high with The Polar Express – in terms of characterisation, humour, songs and feel-good festive magic – sadly A Christmas Carol can’t match up.

But that’s not to say it’s not a good film. There is much to enjoy here and the inevitable happy ending will leave you with an early festive glow.