Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Spectacular - The Polar Express

The Polar Express was a kids picture book written back in the 80's. It was 32 pages long, and like most picture books, consisted of full page illustrations and a simple story.  Robert Zemeckis thought this would be the perfect vehicle to play with motion-capture technology.

Read on to see what the creator of Back to the Future watches on Christmas.

The story isn't all that important here. A little boy, after seeing countless mall Santas and hearing his parents whisper about there not being a Santa, starts to lose faith. He doesn't believe anymore. Then a magical train appears in front of his house and takes him to the North Pole where he actually meets Santa. Finally, he can start believing. After going to the North Pole. On a Magical Train. And Meeting Santa. Now, he can believe.

I think the easiest way to talk about this movie is to just discuss what was amazing, and what was terrifying about it. First... the amazing.

The actual train was really amazing. It felt old and powerful. On the inside, it felt warm and comfortable. They did an amazing job of giving it a life of its own.

The scenery beautiful. This frozen lake that the train skids across was great. They made a large piece of ice look beautiful.
And whatever this hub thing was, it was pretty cool.

The atmosphere was done really well. Even though the kid was walking across the icy-cold roof of the train, this scene with a hobo felt warm and cozy. (As do most scenes with hobos).

And finally, the North Pole village looked very Christmasy. The tree was massive, and thousands of elves played around the square.

Now the horrifying. First off, they eyes. It's been said over and over, but this movie has some of the scariest, deadest-looking eyes on any CG character I've ever seen.
Oh god.

These dancing waiters. They had no expression on their faces, and their movements were slightly robotic. Top that with the fact that they all looked the same and gave the kids exactly 30 seconds to drink their scalding hot chocolate. Yes, they were creepy.
Look at that kid in the lower right. He's terrified.
This kid. He had the voice of a 50 year old character actor. I could see this actor's voice fitting a teenager, maybe. But a 10 year old kid? That's kind of pushing it. Plus, he was supposed to be an annoying know-it-all. Mission accomplished.
Ah yes, the checks are still rolling in. 
If you count all the times I would have freaked out as a kid watching this, I'm surprised anyone took their kids to see it. This scary hobo was one example. Again, voiced by Tom Hanks (presumably on a day he had bronchitis), I was sure this guy was going to take the kid somewhere to do terrible things to him.
Give old Andy a hug. He's lonely and cold.
Peter Scolari played this kid. Huh?

This was the dopiest looking Santa I've ever seen, with a Jesus Christ glow of light around him.
I will love it, and hug it, and call it George.
And finally, what would a Christmas movie be without elves. Little, jolly, rollicking munchkins. Well, wipe those visions of sugar plums from your dreams. Real elves are much scarier.
This looks like the DMV.
SCORE: One pewter Christmas goblet filled with the tears of all the children who saw this movie.

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