Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Polar Express (2004)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring Tom Hanks, Leslie Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye


The animation was meant to be the spectacle. Even on cable television, you can see that Zemeckis was pushing the limits of the technology and really going for it with the 3D gimmicks. And then you have Zemeckis’ clever use of impossible camera angles, an easy trick to pull off in an animated feature. I’m sure all of it would have been impressive back in the day in IMAX 3D.

But that’s all it really is. Kind of a silly story, with awkward pacing in several scenes. Every shot and every goofy action sequence is a setup for the visual spectacle. And the animation itself is dated. Human characters have dead eyes, strange expressions, and stiff, robotic movements. They still hadn’t figured out the “bounciness” that makes human movement so realistic. Many scenes feature impossible physics, like a paper ticket floating in the air keeping up with the speeding train, even flying in front of it at one point. I can’t even imagine how many hours of computer rendering went into all this.

The star power of Hanks saves it, though having him play all of the important roles feels more like penny-pinching desperation than creative genius.

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