People in Hollywood should never work with children or animals, W.C. Fields once said. Maybe that should be expanded to hyper-realistic computer-generated children and reindeer, too.
As a spectacle, The Polar Express looks remarkable. As a film, however, it's the equivalent of an elaborately wrapped Christmas present containing a nice new pair of socks.
Tom Hanks (in a number of roles) and the other actors do a nice job of voicing their parts, but the waxy animated faces they've been given are off-putting.
At some point very early in the 3-D IMAX version of The Polar Express, technology trumps banality and you helplessly surrender to the shock and awe of this big, often thunderous movie.
They say it's better to travel than to arrive and that's definitely the case with the latest CG 'toon to pull into cinemas.
| Original Score: 2/5
Though heartfelt, the film tries too hard to dazzle and thrill rather than echo its own message: just believe.
Director Robert Zemeckis once again harnesses a new technology to an engaging fable in this digitally animated adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's holiday tale.
Though the emotion feels contrived, that's nothing compared to the flashy set pieces and meticulous detail, which do more to flaunt the technology than move along the story.
| Original Score: 3/5
A train wreck of mind-numbing proportions.
The best kids' holiday movie in years.
| Original Score: 4/5
Even when you look past the unnecessary dangers that the dehumanized child characters in "The Polar Express" experience, you're left with a hammered-home theme that says you must believe in a lie to be satisfied on a personal level.
| Original Score: C-
Polar Express combines good storytelling with spectacular visuals.
Digital data produced by adult actors wearing special suits spring to life as both adult and kid characters in this dreamy, surreal adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's popular 29-page storybook.
Nearly as much a movie advocating a belief in Santa Claus as a belief in the real existence of CGI animated characters, the film is at once mystifying and uninvolving.
Cynics will sneeze in shock; children, young and old, will cuddle up and dream along.
As a complete package, Zemeckis' surreal, hallucinogenic adventure is pretty inconsequential.
More like Night of the Living Dead.
| Original Score: C-
The animation looks like an oil painting come to life and the overall viewing experience is awe inspiring.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
...might better be called The Bipolar Express, with so much that is sweet and light on the one hand and so much that is tiring and humdrum on the other.
| Original Score: 7/10
Unfortunately, Zemeckis has allowed his technical-savvy, circus-like movie to lose touch with its human charcaters, resulting in a cold and distanced animation.
| Original Score: C