Too many stops derail train of thought
All of the stops “The Polar Express” makes to build up steam ultimately derail it.The computer animation packs in so many elements reminiscent of other successful children’s movies, it misses out on its own biggest wish: to enchant audiences with holiday spirit.It’s as if the producers ripped through a catalog of films, pointing to every tinseltown classic they wanted and trying to wrap them in one shiny box to fit underneath the tree:”Ooh – the golden ticket from Willy Wonka – I’ll take it!””And oh – How about following it as the wind carries it along, like the feather in ‘Forrest Gump’ – that was a hit!””And kids seem to enjoy sliding down chutes, like the ones in ‘Goonies,’ so we’ll put one of those in.””Then we’ll pour in an animated song and dance a la ‘Beauty and the Beast!'””But here’s the best part: We’ll make the computer-animated kids look like the spawn of Stepford children – with their creepy eyes – and send them on a journey, much like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ only instead of the Wicked Witch, we’ll introduce a hobo who turns out to be a ghost.”As the plot chugs along, it becomes the little train who thinks he can, thinks he can, but in the end, doesn’t have enough gumption the station.It’s as if animators pushed screenwriters back to the caboose, deciding characterization and dialogue didn’t matter.They produced the film to show in 3-D in IMAX theaters, but whether audiences watch “The Polar Express” with 3-D glasses, the characters remain fundamentally flat.Still, computer-animated scenes take viewers on a strange and magical ride, complete with roller coasters, frozen lakes and an unconventional ski run. Kids – and even adults – will stare wide-eyed at the seamless animation, which is worth the price of admission if you simply want to take the scenic ride.Still, computer-animated scenes take viewers on a strange and magical ride, complete with roller coasters, frozen lakes and an unconventional ski run. Kids – and even adults – will stare wide-eyed at the seamless animation, which is worth the price of admission if you simply want to take the scenic ride.
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