Robert Zemeckis applies the 3-D motion-capture animation of Beowulf (2007) and The Polar Express (2004) to the well-worn Charles Dickens tale (19 screen adaptations and counting). The process uses live actors with sensors attached to their bodies and faces so that computers can record their movement and animators can elaborate on it. As a result, the characters are often distracting in their near-perfection: the facial expressions here are more precise than ever but still not human, as if Zemeckis were following a square root into infinity. The real beneficiaries are the more fantastic figures: Jacob Marley radiates green light like a glow-in-the-dark monster model, and Ignorance and Want, the wretched children who emerge from the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present, are fearsome images of Victorian poverty. Zemeckis captures all the story’s terror, but its pathos has always been the real challenge, and it mostly eludes him. With Jim Carrey (as Scrooge and the Christmas ghosts) and Gary Oldman (as Marley and Bob Cratchit). PG, 96 min.