Movie Review: “The Polar Express” (2004)

This is another film that I watched for my film studies class. We have a choice of several movies and when I went to the theatre, this was the only movie that I didn’t have to wait for, so I watched this one. It was a pretty entertaining film, and it was in spirit for the holidays, so I can’t really say it’s a rip off. Here’s the review for this movie.

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The Polar Express, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is one of the first holiday films of the year. The movie stars Tom Hanks as several characters within the story and it is based on a children’s book of the same title by Chris Van Allsburg. This is an experimental film made entirely by using a more advanced version of motion capture technique like the one used in the Lord of the Rings films to bring Gollum to life. The result is a very good and realistic looking animated film, but the film lacks in the story department.

The Polar Express is about a young boy who, on Christmas Eve, starts to waiver in his beliefs of Santa. Just as he was about the fall asleep, a mysterious locomotive appears in front of his house and the conductor (Tom Hanks) convinces the boy to get on the train, which is carrying children to the North Pole to see You-Know-Who.

The best part about The Polar Express is definitely the graphics. This film is a showcase of how advanced technology can produce a beautiful looking movie. This film is full of eye candy and in some scenes the characters actually looked like real people, which is quite an achievement. The effects aren’t quite good enough for CGI/motion capture to replace real actors, but this film is sort of a peek into the future of 3D animation.

Because The Polar Express is based on a short children’s book, there isn’t enough story to actually make this film feature length. In order to so, a lot of scenes were tacked on or dragged out to lengthen the movie, and it’s pretty evident to the viewers. For example, there’s a long sequence in the movie involving the train going down several really steep slopes. It’s a good looking scene and it made me feel like that I was on a roller-coaster, but the scene felt like it was longer than it should be, since it lasted about 10 minutes (I may be exaggerating), and it didn’t really contribute to the story.

Overall, The Polar Express is a pretty entertaining film. It’s more geared towards the younger crowd, like preteen and under, but even older people such as teens and adults might find it enjoyable too, if not for the story, then just for the special effects. It’s a good film for parents to take their younger kids to watch, and hey, it’s in spirit for the holidays, so people will probably forgive some of its shortcomings and enjoy the film.

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