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Home arrow Movies arrow The Polar Express

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The Polar Express Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Thursday, 25 November 2004
ImageA distant rumble begins to stir you from your sleep.  The rumble grows into a room shaking, window rattling ruckus.  How can everyone else be sleeping?  You peak out the window.  Beyond all belief, a giant steam engine train is parked outside your window.
The conductor jumps off the train into the deep snow.
"All aboard!" he calls.
This animated feature film is fun and amazing.  The story is about a young boy who no longer believes in Santa Claus.  On the night before Christmas the Polar Express stops at his house to take him on a ride to the North Pole so he will believe.  The boy joins other passengers who are on a similar journey.
The train travels through extraordinary scenery including the steepest hills in the world (the sign says 180 degree incline) and my favorite, the frozen lake.  Throughout the ride there are some visually stunning animation special effects.  The story reaches the predictable climax when Santa emerges from his North Pole facility to the cheers of hundreds of his elves and the children who rode the train to get there. 
The story is heart-warming but predictable.  What I really enjoyed about this movie were all the small things that made it interesting. 
As the train is leaving the young boys house he looks out the window as his house slips by.  Wind from the moving train make the ovenmit hand of the snowman wave at the boy as if the magical snowman is in on the secret. At one point a train ticket flies out of the train window.  It eddies through the air currents and eventually settles in the deep snow of a heavily wooded forest.  In the background the train races by.  Within seconds a pack of timberwolves race by as they chase the train.  As I mentioned above, the frozen lake sequence was one of my favorites.  Once the train is on the lake surface instead of the tracks the back end starts to slide around and soon the train is in danger of traveling sideways.  There are just many visually interesting and imaginative scenes throughout the entire movie.
Despite some great animation with most of the movie somehow the creators were not able to capture the body and facial movements of the characters well.  Most of the time the characters moved about stiffly and lacked life in their faces.  But it wasn't enough of a distraction to ruin the movie for me.
And, of course, the kids loved it. 
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 November 2004 )

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