Sunday, 15 December 2013

The Polar Express (2004)


I'm under the impression that a lot of people love this film in a romantic Christmas kind of way. And that's what I expected and hoped for.  However, I rather think that director Robert Zemeckis was trying to channel the spirit of his earlier action adventure films into this, and this is not the Christmas spirit.  Action sequences akin to those in Romancing the Stone (1984) or the Back to the Future series (1985-1990) are completely incongruous, and just seem to be padding in a film which should be about the magic of Christmas.

However, when it comes (in the last 15 minutes of the movie) instead of magic, we are bludgeoned over the head with a pseudo-religious "I want to believe" message!  OK, I get that the kid doesn't believe in Christmas at the start of the film, but by the time he's seen the elves and present factory etc, you think he might have cottoned on.  Instead we are repeatedly told that he wants to believe, until he can finally hear the sleigh bells.

There are a few nice touches, including one when the camera follows the fate of a train ticket all in one shot.  Until you remember that this is a cartoon and you can do what you want with a camera; and the whole reason for the ticket flying about is a stupid bit of plot that had me screaming at the telly!  I am no Scrooge when it comes to Christmas, but The Polar Express did not fill me with a warm glowy feeling; rather like Blackadder in his Christmas Carol I became increasingly annoyed.  But, well, you know, that’s just, like, er, my opinion, man.