The Good

A very well made film that stands out due to it’s honest and true message.

The Bad

No director’s commentary. The extras seem very cheap and not well thought out for a movie of this caliber.

The Polar Express is the tale of young boy becoming convinced that Santa Claus is a real. However, like most tales of Christmas, this story takes that simple idea and expands upon it so that we are taken on a journey of epic proportions. And if you know anything about Robert Zemeckis’ movies, than you know that this is par for the course. While at times I think he and the other creators of this piece were a bit too self-involved with the story, overall I think that this movie is visually stunning and really advances the medium of animation and CGI. I loved the Norman Rockwell, warm feel that this movie generated for me as a viewer. I was able to lose myself within the realms of the story, while not realizing that this was happening. I think that the ending of the movie could have been trimmed up a tad, simply because like some Steven Spielberg films, Zemeckis takes a long time to show us what we know is already going to happen.

I think a big reason why this movie was not the major box office blockbuster that so many people envisioned, is because it looked a but too much like a video game. Also, they showed us so much behind the scenes footage, that I think viewers were expecting more from this film. Essentially, they took a movie that they could have made with actors against a greenscreen, and seemed to animate everything including the actors. As a piece of CGI animation it seems to pale against many of the Pixar offerings, however as an addition to the canon of perennial Christmas films this movie was instantly hailed as a classic.

Features

Never-Before-Seen Smokey and Steamer song; You Look Familiar: The Many "Polar Faces" of Tom Hanks and True Inspirations: An Author's Adventure: Profiling Chris Van Allsburg

The extras on this 2 disc set were really a letdown. It might be because I am not that big a fan of the high-jinks in the movie (the dancing train number or the overall zaniness), and the extras here seemed a bit too focused on that. The Never-Before-Seen Smokey and Steamer song gives us the late Michael Jeter performing a tune that wasn’t in the movie. Thankfully this did not make the final cut. This isn’t because I think the song is bad, I am just not a fan of this kind of singing. Judge for yourself. The character he plays is funny but I didn’t really need to see the singing. You Look Familiar: The Many "Polar Faces" of Tom Hanks is something that, actually, I’d already seen a lot of watching the TV promotions for this movie. I guess it is some sort of achievement that Tom Hanks played so many characters, but honestly I think calling so much attention to this hurt this movie. We can tell that it’s him by his voice! At least I can and as a result some of the magic was lost. True Inspirations: An Author's Adventure: Profiling Chris Van Allsburg was a rather quick look at the person who wrote the children’s book upon which this movie is based. I wish I could say more about this featurette, but it wasn’t long enough to really give me an honest beat on this author. Still, I guess something is better than nothing, right?

Josh Groban at the Greek performing the Academy Award nominated original song "Believe"; Behind the scenes of "Believe": Bringing a hit song to life in the recording studio{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}and the Polar Express challenge

I didn’t really need to see Josh Groban at the Greek performing the song "Believe". I know that people love him and that there’s something special about him for some reason, something that sets him apart from the other singers who perform songs written by forty year old men, to be sung by twentysomething boys, for fourteen year old girls, but I am just not getting it. Then, if this isn’t bad enough, did we really need to go Behind the scenes of "Believe" to see how they recorded the song in the studio? I don’t mean to be so negative but you would think a movie on the “cutting edge

The Polar Express was released November 10, 2004.