Sigh. Sigh. Siiigh. Sss-motherfucking-iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. Oh, sorry—did you say something? I was just over here. DEFLATING FOREVER. Who was it (and this is a rhetorical question—Robert Zemeckis, I am looking at YOU) that decided human actors just aren't enough anymore and need to be replaced with terrifying motion-capture drones? I mean, it's only 2009! Movies—regular motion pictures—were just invented, like, 100 years ago! Are we really tired of looking at humans on screens and listening to them talk? Really? We prefer computerized wax dead-face golems? Are we sure the age of man has come to an end already? Ghost of Technology Future, I AM SICK OF YOUR SHIT.

Zemeckis's new motion-capture holiday extravaganza, A Christmas Carol (did you know Christmas is here already? WHERE THE FUCK IS MY FIGGY PUDDING?), is not entirely bad. Frequent aerial swoops through firelit, snowy Dickensian London make my corny Anglophile heart swell. The film is thrillingly dark and commendably loyal to Dickens's original: sagging flesh, rattling ghosts, empty eye sockets, the terror and despair of lonely old age. So thrillingly dark, in fact, that the pat dose of Christmas spirit in the end can't even begin to offset the existential horror preceding it. A Christmas Carol is hardly a kids' movie. As my friend put it afterward: "This is just a story about a British man going crazy." "

But it's also not great. Character development is minimal—they clearly spent more time making sure Scrooge's every wart and neck flap had a realistic wiggle than making sure anyone gave a shit about Tiny Tim.

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Back in 2007, when Zemeckis released his last motion-capture monstrosity, Beowulf, I wrote the following:

I guess old-fangled human actors are okay—always using their eyeballs and faces to communicate emotions and stuff (so pretentious). But what would be really great is if you could use a camera to film human actors, and then take a computer and scribble on the footage until the humans look like expressionless, waxy, reanimated corpses!

There's no denying that the motion-cap technology in A Christmas Carol is hugely improved since Beowulf, and it can be employed in film to creepy, creaturey effect (Gollum!). So, sure. Animate the ghosts. Awesome. Animate spindly old Scrooge, even. But everyone? When all you've really accomplished is turning Jim Carrey into an elderly manorexic man-spider and giving Colin Firth a very big weird chin, it just feels like technological showboating. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Sssssssssssssssssssssigh. recommended

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