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The Polar Express

Silent Bob

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When I first heard of this movie I thought it sounded strange. All I heard was that Robert Zemeckis was making a movie called The Polar Express and it starred Tom Hanks as a character known simply as "The Conductor" in a cast that also included characters such as "Toothless", "Know-It-All" and "Lonely Boy". Strange.


Then I found out that The Polar Express is an adaption of a children's book about a doubting boy who is whisked away on a magic train to meet Santa Claus in the North Pole. Sounds like material that could become a new classic holiday movie.


Then I learned it would be a cg animated film. Now Hanks, of course, is no stranger to CG. He starred in the first full-length computer animated feature ever. But what would a cg film look like with a great director like Zemeckis at the helm?


I found out yesterday when I finally downloaded the teaser trailer (the movie comes out next November). This movie is going to look fantastic. It has some of the best cg work I've seen. The animation is fluid and subtle. The lighting is sweeping and grand. The colors are gorgeous. I was incredibly impressed. And then something happened that just about knocked me out of my chair. This man stepped into the screen -





He looks like Tom Hanks. He moves like Tom Hanks. He makes Tom Hanks' subtle expressions when he opens his mouth to speak with the voice of Tom Hanks (albeit with a bit of an accent). But this is no more Tom Hanks than Toy Story's Woody is. This is character animation I've almost never seen before, with a likeness that is near perfect. All those Chicken Littles that are always going on about how cgi is going to replace real actors eventually are going to freak out when they see this. For them, the sky is finally falling.

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