Yes, I suppose you can tell it is the same characters (if you really tried)...but the new computer animation characters have no soul. They are boring, their world is boring, there is no charm. The animation immediately made me want to retch. I couldn't concentrate, the plot and story slipped through my mind as I stared in a dumbfounded stupor at what the had done. And Rudolph's nose? No longer does it just glow, it shoots freaking laser beams across the room...demonstrated by Rudolph lighting up a disco ball for the elf holiday ball (or something like that). I had to turn it off withing about 10 minutes or risk my brain dying. Oh and Richard Dreyfuss is no Burl Ives, that's for sure - yes, I know they are different snowmen (Original = Sam, New Crappy Snowman = Scoop) but the quality, the quality was the thing that was missing. Even Elf did a good job at emulating the original...and that was such a small part of the story that they didn't have to.
Stop screwing up the things I love with terrible sequels (this means you too George Lucas - I'll probably get to you in part 2).