The Polar Express

So much toil, trouble and talent (not to mention $165 million) has gone into the task of transforming Chris Van Allsburg's slender 1985 Christmas story into a gargantuan attempt to redefine animation that it seems Scroogish to spoil the party. But the movie just doesn't work. Tom Hanks covered his face and body with reflective dots to play five characters, including the stationmaster who whisks a lonely boy off to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. And director Robert Zemeckis and his "performance capture" team use those dots to create computer-generated images meant to reflect the illustrations in Van Allsburg's book. Sadly, nothing in The Polar Express seems touched by human hands. The eyes of the characters, from the boy to Santa himself (also Hanks), have a glazed look that is almost spooky in an Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of way. The result is a failed and lifeless experiment in which everything goes wrong.

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