The Polar Express

The Polar Express

What She said:


People kept telling me I had to see this movie.  “It’s a holiday classic,” is what they’d say.  Well, I got news for y’all.  This…movie…stunk.  It was bizarre, creepy, and the animation was shoddy.  I guess the most positive thing I can say is that it probably accurately illustrates a typical dream for a 10 year old.

Here are the basics:  Little Billy is having a hard time believing in Santa (so sad).  On Christmas Eve, he awakens to the arrival of a mysterious train.  A creeper conductor lures the child onboard.  He begins a warped journey to the North Pole, where he gets to meet the real Saint Nick, and finally becomes a believer.  He makes some pretty superficial friends along the way, too.

The story on paper doesn’t sound too bad, but the execution is horrible.  I mean, Billy meets a bunch of different characters who act very strange.  I guess there’s some sort of angel or ghost that rides on top of the train, but all he really does is lure the kid into dangerous situations before vaporizing.  I’m not sure how this was supposed to help him in any way.  When Billy finally gets to the North Pole (finally), it’s even more weird.  The elves will freak you out, and Santa doesn’t really seem all that wonderful.  That whole sequence kind of plays out like an LSD-induced flashback. 

The animation in this movie is supposed to be super lifelike.  And it almost is.  But it’s slightly off, and so it just makes you feel uncomfortable.  The characters’ facial expressions are strange, and they lack depth, so they actually feel very cold and inhuman.  At the end, I was just relieved that this acid trip was over.  And I’m still having nightmares about it.

Thumbs down.

What he said:


My Christmas vacation was coming to a close. I had recently seen Die Hard and caught A Christmas Story during TBS’s annual 24-hour marathon, but I wanted something more. I wanted one last Christmas movie to keep the magic going just a little longer. The Christmas lights were on, presents were still under the tree, and I just wanted a couple of more hours to keep the spirit alive; so I decided to check out this holiday classic. After all, I had heard people singing its praises for a few years now. “You’ve got to see that movie!” they would say. I know it’s not even that old, but the movie had built itself quite a reputation.

The movie is about a young boy who begins to lose his Christmas spirit. Like many when they hit a certain age, he begins to doubt the existence of Santa Clause. Though he’s moving in that direction, he still holds out some hope. Every noise or movement on Christmas Eve sends him racing downstairs or to the nearest window; hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa. He never does,  but something magical does indeed happen. A train appears outside his house and apparently nobody else notices.

Skeptical, he eventually gets on board. Soon enough he finds other children on board who are in a similar predicament. Apparently the folks at the North Pole run this little operation solely for the purpose of keeping the faith alive. Unsure of whether this is a dream or some big joke, the children soon realize this is the real deal. They end  up in the North Pole with the big man himself.

It’s supposed to be a very happy and magical tale.  The kind of movie that gives you the sense of having gone on a great journey; and one that revolves around Christmas no less! This was made for my inner child to eat up. The problem is that I didn’t. This movie didn’t capture me in the slightest. I didn’t find it exciting or magical, but rather bland and annoying (there were some rather obnoxious young characters in this movie). When it gets to that point, I simply stop caring. I’m taken out of the movie viewing experience. I don’t think of it as me being immersed in the film, but rather sitting through something I didn’t enjoy.

Even the animation was disappointing. Robert Zemeckis has been toying around with this style for a while now. Several of his most recent movies were done in this style and this was the first attempt. It was very choppy and there were times I swear the characters mouths didn’t match up with what they were saying. I felt like I was watching an old Kung Fu flick; only this one had annoying little children, obnoxious elves, and all kinds of candy coated crap that made me want to barf.

This movie was disappointing from top-to-bottom. Bah Humbug! I was so ready to enjoy too, but I did not.

Rating: Thumbs down.

This movie review was given the He said She said seal of approval on January 22, 2012.