The Polar Express - Thoughts?

I haven’t seen it yet and was wondering if this was an OK movie to take my three year-old little girl. She’s quite good at the movies, having been quite a few times, but I know nothing about this movie except that it has

“A train, daddy! Look! A train! I wanna see that! I wanna see the train movie!”

At least it got her off the SpongeBob movie loop that she’s been on for the previous three weeks. :smiley:

Oh, and y’all can discuss this movie of course. :wink:

It’s a very good movie

I think the CGI does a wonderful job of rendering a quasi realistic/imaginary world. Some complain that the Human characters look creepy. I felt a bit of that but as the movie progressed I accepted what they looked like. The movie has a warm christmas message but doesn’t drill it into you with a 2x4. I got somewhat irked at how many parts Tom Hanks played (especially since he does very little to make his voices distinguishable from each other) but again I just accepted it after awhile. It does have some slightly scary parts for kids, but nothing too intense.

All in all I thought it was very good movie. The beginning and the parts on the train were the best.

That should last until next week. :wink:

Also, are there (and I’m sure there are) any sites that rates movies for kids - especially new releases?

Oh, yeah, I could Google it but that wouldn’t bump my thread. :wink:

Here’s one.

Hey! Thanks! :smiley:

I find that Grading The Movies is really good from a parent perspective. It doesn’t grade anything over PG-13 as it’s aimed at families and it grades according to violence, sexual content, language and drugs/alcohol as well as an overall rating. One of the guys who grades for the site is on the news at noon here weekly and I find he’s pretty spot on about things.

They do give their opinion but they give enough information that you can decide whether or not it’s worth taking the kids (or going to see it yourself) and not have to hope you agree with their opinion.

Thanks again!

Movie Mom’s Reviews at Yahoo suggests minimum ages for each movie. Their minimum for The Polar Express is 6.

The previews and press I’ve seen so far make me optimistic about this one. I’ll be interested to see if this movie brings up a discussion of the “Uncanny Valley” phenomenon. The study of this is rather anemic and perhaps too subjective for solid analysis, still I find it interesting. I would not be surprised if research showed that the cartoonish characters of The Incredibles generated more empathy from the audience than the more realistic humans in Shrek 2 or Polar Express.

I don’t think anyone has recommended Screenit. The site flogs it’s subscription only features heavily (and I think that’s a recent change), but the reviews are available for free.


A friend of mine in one of my classes last semester has a prosthetic leg (below the knee). It’s the faux-skin rubber, and it looks a little creepy. Chad on Survivor has a prosthesis, but it’s clearly metal and sleek, and I think it’s cool.

Saw it last night.

The way their eyes and faces move is kind of creepy. Also in shots with a lot of elves , many of their faces aren’t moving at all.

The body and hair motion was really impressive, but the faces aren’t quite there. It’s the contrast between the two that makes it a bit off. I kept getting the impression that the girl on the train was blind.

For the little ones, the only scariness was the persistant action where they seemed to be just barely able to keep from falling to their deaths in various ways. It might be too much for children who tend to be a little nervous. It also makes protective parents cringe. My wife could barely stand the cavalier attitude toward railway safety.

My wild guess: the reason for this is because they did motion-capture for the faces and bodies. Unfortunately, you can’t put motion sensors on an actor’s eyeballs or inside their mouth, so those bits had to be done by hand. I imagine the disparity of the facial movement and the eye movement makes things look a bit odd.

They did the same sort of thing for Gollum in LOTR, but as he didn’t look entirely human, he probably fell on a side of the uncanny valley, rather than smack dab in it.

Well, CGI issues aside, I’d like to say that I’m concerned about the very fact that there is a movie at all. See, I’ve found The Polar Express to be perfect the way it was originally written and illustrated. A simple and perfect bagatelle, or if you prefer, an exquisite and perfect Faberge egg.

The whole story, in book form, takes fewer that fifteen minutes to read aloud. adding an extra hour and a half of material to the story, I feared, might be like gluing rhinestones to the bagatelle, or spraying the Faberge egg with glitter spray, to make them more sparkly. Did the actual product feel liked it was expanded, enhanced and fleshed out, or cobbled together and tacked-on?



I never never NEVER walk out on a movie. Even if it’s really horrible I see it through to the end and judge it as a whole. Note that I have plenty of opportunities to walk out on movies- I go out to see three to five movies a week on average. I love seeing movies in the theater.

You know the popular term “renter” as in “It’s a ‘renter’,” like “it’s O.K. but don’t pay to see it in the theater, just wait ‘til it comes to Blockbuster.” Well, I never use this term. When I rent a movie I want it to be a good movie, I mean, I’m in the video store with all those options available- I’m gonna pick something good.

But going to the movies is something I really love. I’ll see just about any movie in the theater. I love the obscure art-house flicks, I love the big blockbusters, I’ll read subtitles ‘till my eyes fall out of my head, I’ll cheer on the hero while he’s blowing shit up! I see just about everything so, yes, I’ve seen some bad movies. But, because I love going to the movies, I can almost always enjoy myself even if the movie is bad. And If I can’t enjoy myself, like I said, I prefer to see it through to the end and judge it as a whole. I never never NEVER walk out on a movie.

I walked out on The Polar Express.

First off, if your child insists on seeing it and the task of chaperoning falls upon you, I advise you to take ear plugs. This was one of the LOUDEST movies I’ve ever seen. I stayed for about an hour and 15 minutes and after the opening (which was quite magical and did capture the spirit of the book), pretty much the entire film had everyone on screen going: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

There was a sequence wherein we watch a ticket that gets caught in the wind as it is swept away on a little adventure of it’s own. That sequence was quite nice, as was the beginning. but other than those two examples it was just Action Sequence after Action Sequence after Action Sequence. I read the book. It was a quiet, mystical book. Where is the basis for Action Sequence after Action Sequence after Action Sequence? The train was on the verge of a major crash for just about the entire journey, keeping all of the characters screaming “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!” and just as one crisis that had them screaming “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!” had been averted, a new complication would cause another crisis again causing all of the characters to go “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Once they got to the North Poke and off the train I figured it would mellow. Nope.

The kids stay on the end car (which has no emergency brake), trying to comfort the “Christmas doesn’t work out for me” kid. The car comes unhitched and rolls down the hill and again it’s: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Then they

climb into a tube that the elves use for transport (like the antique kind for sending inter-office memos through a vacuum) and again it’s “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

That’s when I walked out.

Now, as kaylasdad99 mentioned, you can read the entire book in 15 minutes. So, yes, I completely expected that they would have written lots of additional material to fill out the story. But what got me into the theater was the beautiful imagery that I had seen in the previews. One of the best things about Chris Van Allsburg’s books is the beautiful illustration. I can sit and look at the pictures in those books for the longest time. When I saw the previews for the movie I was so impressed at how they captured the style and feel of Van Allsburg’s illustrations. They were so true to the artwork, which was no small feat, I didn’t think it beyond hope that they would make an equal effort to be true to the spirit of the book, though running time would require additional material to be written in. Instead of the quiet, mystical, magical story that I got from the book, Zemeckis gave me: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”

Zemeckis really screwed this one up.


You should have stayed to the end, but I don’t think you would have heard the bell ringing. :smiley:

Could you hear it over the incessant “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!”?

My almost-five-year-old daughter will be going to see this as part of a school field-trip; I’m guessing, from listening to her and her best bud play together, that the AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!! that bothered bienville so very much won’t bother my little one at all. :stuck_out_tongue: