The Polar Express rolls into town

Originally published in 1985, The Polar Express is a haunting hush tale of a child who has lost his faith in Santa Claus and Christmas all together. What you get for the movie is quite a bit different. It’s more like if you mix a load of children, a loud obnoxious conductor, a ghost, a train track that runs like a roller coaster, hundreds of crazy elves and Santa Claus, then you have all the ingredients for this years holiday animated movie The Polar Express.

It was amazing that the director, Robert Zemeckis, was able to make a 32 page book into a 96 minute movie. Of course this meant that many scenes had to be exaggerated from an elf that looked exactly like Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler rockin’ and rollin’ with Santa to elves bungee jumping off of zeppelins.

The movie tells of how a doubting boy is invited on an old fast steam engine locomotive which is traveling to the North Pole with other children to visit Santa.

Throughout his adventure, he befriends two children and a ghost all while trying to stay on the train which is swooshing through mountain sized glaciers and run by two lunatics. The ending of the movie is very true to the book, which is pleasant because it felt as though so many different scenes were thrown in to this movie; the book lost its touch of magic. Everything in between must have been like filling in deep holes for the director because the story drug on much longer then it should have.

Although the movie is more Hollywood than the book, it uses a new technology called “performance captured.” This is basically where a person is marked up with hundreds of electronic post-its to their body and face which relays information about their movements and expressions back to software that then digitally x “clothe” them. This was used on many of the stars of the movie, a big one being Tom Hanks.

Around these characters the wonderful world of CGI and Hollywood were able to provide the elves, backdrops, costumes, animals and snowy landscapes. This is what makes the movie somewhat worth seeing. Although at times it felt like many of the main characters were very stiff in their movements, the setting seemed very realistic and enjoyable.

Although the storyline does drag out a bit, and some of the animation seemed a little stiff, the overall ending reminds the viewer that the holiday spirit is alive and should be much more than giving gifts. It reminds the viewer that believing is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.