The Polar Express
There is something seriously disturbing about this movie. As I understand it, the animation is produced via something called "motion capture," which means that real actors are used to create all the movements and then those movements are turned into animation.
However, instead of using different actors for different parts, director Robert Zemeckis has used Tom Hanks for most of the big parts, including the conductor, a bum, Santa Claus, and the little boy who's the center of the story. I'm not sure what was involved in turning Tom Hanks's movements into an animated ten-year-old boy and I'm not sure I want to know. What I can tell you is this: The kid freaked me out. All the kids freaked me out. They look fucking weird.
There's something disturbing about their eyes and their facial expressions. Oh, the movements, like walking and stuff, all look okay, but then you get to the kids' weird expressions and you begin to suspect they're possessed. You half expect them to grow horns and start declaring their eternal allegiance to "Satan Claus." Once the boy (who doesn't seem to have a name) gets on The Polar Express, he meets up with several freaky children, including a black girl, an annoying kid, and a lonely kid. Each child looks like lightning is about to shoot out of his or her empty, unholy eyes. The lonely kid is apparently a motion capture of none other than Peter Scolari, Hanks's pal from "Bosom Buddies." I guess if you're beset by the curse of owing Peter Scolari some sort of favor, the relative anonymity of an animated movie is the place to repay it.
And what exactly is a bum doing on top of the train? Bums aren't exactly known for befriending young children, so it's a strange choice. When the children finally do get to the North Pole, it resembles some kind of labor camp where the workers, instead of being beaten down, have been gassed with some kind of mind-erasing happy juice. Upon seeing the place for the first time, one kid on the train screams "Elves" in a way that makes you wonder whether he just suffered a mind wipe or shit his pants.
I'm not kidding. The movie is dangerously close to being truly deranged.
To spread the word about this The Polar Express review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.