Nick’s Flixmas: The Polar Express


Why is The Polar Express special? Is it the motion captured animation? Probably. It’s the first film I can remember that promoted itself purely through its advances in animation technology and use of 3D. In fact if you somehow had forgotten this movie was 3D in theaters, several scenes in Polar Express will remind you of that in terrible, terrible ways. 

Day ten of Nick’s Flixmas is all about Tom Hanks’ romp through Merry Merry Christmas Train Land. 

[Nick’s Flixmas is a 25 day celebration of films Nick watches every Christmas! Nick will do some analysis, review, and just generally walk down memory lane. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the ride. Merry Flixmas!]

The Polar Express is about a young boy as he loses his faith in Santa Claus (he accidentally catches his parents leaving his gifts) when a train emerges out on nowhere and somewhat kidnaps him. I mean, just watch the scene over again. The train stops in front of the kid’s house, he sees some other kids get on, and he gets on also out of curiousity. There he meets a cab full of children (and one not child inexplicably voiced by the same person who voiced Mandark in Dexter’s Laboratory), some little girl, some poor kid, and several versions of Tom Hanks (or Otm Shank, if you’re a Simpsons fan). But despite the negatives I’m pointing out here, Polar Express is a good movie. It looks fantastic, one of the songs stands out (the one about hot chocolate), and Tom Hanks nails his parts. Maybe it’s because he’s Tom Hanks that he seems charming, but it works. 

Now beyond that, there are several scenes that are grating even now. A few of the scenes are literally “on rails” and go to a first person perspective in order to emphasize the 3D. I’m sure the experience would’ve been lovely in theaters, but it looks awful during re-watches. If there’s anything that’ll keep Polar Express from reaching that “Oh I need to see this again!” status, it’s those scenes. Other than that, I’ll probably watch it every other holiday year. If it stays on Netflix anyway. 

Did you want to watch The Polar Express? It’s on Netflix Instant right now, so you can enjoy day ten with me (If you can, watch it in Spanish)! Tomorrow on Nick’s Flixmas, since there’s no running theme and I’m just watching what I want now, is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. 

I’ve been waiting for that one.