Genre: Fantasy/Children/Adventure/CG Animation
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Tom Hanks
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: G

Release Date: 25 November 2004

Synopsis (Courtesy from Warner Bros) :

The Academy Award-winning team of Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) reunite for The Polar Express, an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Sony Pictures Imageworks and visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston, Oscar winners for their innovative work, help bring this enchanting holiday story vividly to life in full CG animation through Imageworks' next-generation motion capture process, that allows live-action performances to drive the emotions and movements of the digital characters.

Movie Review:

Based on Chris Van Allsburg's picture book and even though you can finished the book in minutes (It's meant for kids in the first place), "The Polar Express" itself is a 90 minutes tale of wonderous journey to the North Pole. Do you believe in the spirit of Christmas or simply Santa Claus and his trusty reindeers? You may ask. Most of us might believe so when we were much younger. You might be ridiculed by your peers, if you admit the fact you still believed in Santa when you are a grown-up.

This doubting boy in "The Polar Express" has reached an awkward stage of his life whereby Christmas is no longer truthful and magical. On Christmas Eve, a train arrived in front of his house. Out-stepped, a train conductor, a CG "Tom Hanks" but recognisable by his distinct voice, inviting the boy to board the "Polar Express" to go to the North Pole. This is where the movie starts to break into song routines and heart-throbbing sequences involving the Polar Express going down mountainous slopes and hills and skidding through ice ground.

Of course the adventure doesn't ends there. Once the train reaches the North Pole, there are more surprises in store. The presents processing factory, dancing elves, Santa himself and many more to delight the kid in you. It's an adventure movie afterall.

Touted as a breakthrough in CG technology, the actors' emotions are acted out and captured by the animators who followed up by digitalising the images. However, computer animation of human beings still have a way to go before perfection. Most obvious might be the wooden eyes and reactions which betrayed the non-convincing CG technology at times. What helps the movie is none other than Tom Hanks himself (who played almost all the characters ranging from the conductor, the boy, scrooge to Santa Claus! He's the producer as well). Truly one of the greatest actor of our time.

Alan Sliverstri's score is both mesmerising and uplifting. Complimented by songs of Josh Groban, Steve Tyler and Christmas songs, this festive season has never been so heart-warming.

Robert Zemeckis's movies always has the fun and technology factors in them. (See "Back To The Future" series). No doubt the CG effects of "The Polar Express" are still questionable, nevertheless the movie on the whole is good enough to brighten up our snowless island. Simply we are all just like the boy, no longer believing in Christmas. Through "Polar Express", maybe we should just relieve and believe in the magic of Christmas once again. Everyone! Climb aboard "The Polar Express"!

Movie Rating: B+

Review by Cpt John Miller

  Publicity Stills of "The Polar Express" (2004 Warner Bros Ent. All Rights Reserved.)


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