Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Special: The Polar Express

The Polar Express (2004)

On Christmas Eve, a doubting boy boards a magical train headed to the North Pole. The story follows the boy as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

My Thoughts
I immediately love the attention to detail in this movie. Young Tom Hanks burns his arm on his radiator and knocks over some toys and just small things like that to make it seem realistic. He uses drawers as steps like all children have at some point in time. He begins to question Santa, like we all did. "The end of the magic" begins...or does it?

I did get quite confused when Tom Hanks narrates the beginning, so he's the boy...And he's the boy's dad...And he's the conductor...And he's the hobo on the train roof...My brain just couldn't handle it. It also tends to have some issues with this type of animation. It's kind of like black and white films in my head, takes a second to get used to it, but once my brain catches up it's pretty great. And you can make the imagery a lot more meaningful with a bit of animation.

If you were convinced that something was a dream, why would you even hesitate?!? If a train came thundering down mainstreet and someone offered to take me to the North Pole, I'd jump on that chance!

I've got a Golden Ticket!!

The music in this movie is one of the reasons that I love it. And whenever they do the impossible, it's fantastic. The table cloths that become tables, the hot chocolate shooting through the air into cups, pouring into three cups at once, etc...And now I'll have the Hot Chocolate song stuck in my head til Christmas...

The is one of the few movies that I think I'd like in 3-D. The scene where they come up to Flat Top Tunnel and the roller coaster scene through Glacier Gulch would probably be pretty cool...or make me throw up...

Look, Guys, I speak caribou! Just pull my beard. :-) That would be an interesting talent...

But I bet he gets sick of people tugging on his beard...

And then there's another roller coaster ride through the North Pole, which would probably look fun in 3-D. It seems like one of those movies that was made for 3-D. I don't usually like when they turn a movie into a 3-D movie, but when the movie was made for 3-D from the start, they're a lot cooler that way. As long as it's not just the occasional stunt thrown in to make you jump in your seat.

It feels a little slow when they get lost in the town and in the factory buildings. But all the roller coasters would probably be fun. When they follow the present down the line, it reminds me of the toilet bowl water ride at Deep River Water Park.

My sisters and I were just discussing how weird we think it is that none of the children were voiced by children. Most of the actors were in their 30s and 40s when this movie was made. How do they make their voices sound so young?? And I think Billy (the lonely boy) is the only one that has a name...I don't think they ever introduce themselves, but I might have just been not paying attention.

Has anyone else ever been creeped out by "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"? It makes Santa sound like some kind of child stalker. And when all the elves are chanting it before Santa comes out, it is the worst...Sooo creepy. And then they go into slow motion and make it even worse...

And the creepy, misfit puppet from the toy car made its way to a good home :-) And I think that it's kind of funny that Santa calls himself Mr. C. So mysterious. Seems like a simple enough movie, but I love the music and the animation once I adjust to it. I still find it a little weird that Tom Hanks was pretty much everyone...but it's a great one.

Random Facts
Michael Jeter's (Smokey/Steamer) last movie.

A close examination of all the ticket numbers reveals that they all contain the number "1225" in them. Pere Marquette No. 1225 was used as a model for the Polar Express locomotive. 12-25 also refers to the date of Christmas - December 25th.

The film used 3-D motion capture techniques to digitally record the physical performances of the actors before "skinning" them with their animated forms. All the children's roles were acted by adults using oversized props to get the movement right. (The first animated film to use this performance capture technology.)

This was the first mainstream film to be simultaneously released as a 35mm film and a 3-D IMAX presentation.

The train set seen at the end is a recreation of the new Lionel Polar Express train set combined with the older Lionel Berkshire and the older tubular track. 

The locomotive in the movie is based on the Pere Marquette 1225, a restored steam locomotive located in Owosso, MI. In fact, many of the sound effects of the film's train are recordings of the actual train. The train is often run between Owosso and nearby Chesaning for rides during festivals.

Listed in the Guiness Book of World Records in 2006 as the "first all-digital capture" film, where all acted parts were done in digital capture.

The real name of the Hero Boy is never mentioned.

In the beginning of the movie, Hero Boy looks at a picture of himself on a store Santa's lap. The store's name on the photo is Herpolsheimer's, an old department store in Grand Rapids, MI, Chris Van Allsburg's (author) hometown. Later the train passes by the store.

The premiere was also held in Grand Rapids.

The address spoken by the conductor early in the film "11344 Edbrooke" is the real address of Robert Zemeckis' (director) childhood home. The home is in a south side of Chicago neighborhood called Roseland.

Leslie Zemeckis (Sister Sarah/Mother) is married to Robert Zemeckis (director). 

It is the first movie to use the Imagemotion technology.

The Hero Boy has a University of Michigan pennant on the wall behind his bed. Chris Van Allsburg (author of the book) is a real-life graduate of the University.

The lonely boy is played by Peter Scolari, who starred alongside Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies. It was the first significant role for both actors.

Before the Hero Boy boards the Polar Express, the clock shows that it is 11:55. The time does not change until the first gift of Christmas is given near the end of the film.

**Sorry it's been so long since my last post. Hopefully, everyone can understand the craziness of Christmastime!** :-)

1 comment:

  1. On Christmas Eve, a doubting boy boards a magical train headed to ...