For the longest time I had no interest in The Polar Express. Then right before it came out, I was kind of interested in it.
Then I lost interest, and decided against it.
Then I started hearing very mixed reviews, and at one point what was almost a scolding from Ebert & Roeper to America for not embracing the movie more. But today I had nothing else to do (shocking, isnít it) so when pal Joey asked if I wanted to come along to see The Polar Express 3D IMAX version, I said, ďsureĒ.
Iím very glad I did.

Now, keep in mind I have not seen the regular theatrical version of this film, and this review is only about the 3D IMAX version. But I have to say, I think half the reason the film works so well IS because itís in 3D in the IMAX format. Itís a wall of sound and visual wonders that just pulls you in. Pretty cool.
Based on a very popular kidsí book, The Polar Express tells the story of a little boy whoís starting to doubt the existence of Santa Claus and the very spirit of Christmas itself. On Christmas Eve, a wonderfully mysterious train pulls up right on his street and he goes for the ride of his life.

Robert Zemekis directed this amazing achievement in digital storytelling, with Tom Hanks serving as five characters. I went in thinking Hanks would be distracting, but he did a good job. The movie looks pretty amazing, and that is totally enhanced by seeing it in the IMAX format. The 3D doesnít hurt either, what with all the snow falling and all the speeding train going up and down dangerous railroad tracks. It really pulls you in.
Thatís not to say itís perfect. No. There were definite lulls in the film for me. I also could have done without the musical numbers, which really didnít work for me. One song was kind of nice, but the other two annoyed me.
Like I said, visually, this movie looks great. But one of my biggest concerns going in was the eyes. CGI animation has come very, very far, and this movie has wonderful examples of this. Breathtaking even. But for some reason, the technology still isnít there to bring the proper sort of life to charactersí eyes, leaving them with a pseudo-creepy, zombie-ish look. Not completely. I mean, it wonít scare small children, but it is kind of distracting at first.
But it eventually was forgotten as Zemekis and crew continued with the visual feast.

I know IMAX theaters are few and far between, but it is worth the effort (and higher price) to seek this movie out in this format. Still, it will probably be pretty entertaining in the regular format. You might as well see it out before the holiday season is over and the sight of another Christmas tree makes you wanna puke!

A -