The Polar Express: Presented in 3-D [Blu-Ray] Robert Zemeckis

The Polar Express: Presented in 3-D [Blu-Ray] Robert Zemeckis
With a simultaneously heart-warming and depressing message of obtaining happiness through ignorance and delusion — presented here as the choice to "believe” in magic rather than pesky pragmatism — The Polar Express should warm the cockles of kooky Christians and wide-eyed, plain-featured children alike. Indeed, the animation is terrifying, with lifelike characters sporting cold, dead eyes (the little girl in particular), and the actual story really only requires ten-minutes of screen time, but the spirit of Christmas is alive throughout the film, as is the gift of friendship, idealism and of course, material possession. For those unfamiliar, the plot follows a young boy who, in losing the spirit of Christmas, travels on a train to visit Santa Claus at the North Pole where he learns that the true spirit of the holiday exists in conscious philistinism. Since The Polar Express comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray essentially every Christmas season, a new twist is necessary to get those holiday shoppers to fork over their dough. In the case of this release, it is the addition of the film in 3-D, with those old-school blue and red paper glasses. The effect works fairly well on a 40-inch LCD television, having definite dimension, with snow seemingly popping out of the screen, but an overall purple and neon aesthetic eventually gives way to a mid-movie migraine. Included on the Blu-Ray are a number of short "child-friendly” special features on performance capture animation, with Tom Hanks running around in a spandex body suit, in addition to some dual-scene examples of motion capture sessions. Also included are short featurettes on Polar Express author Chris Van Allsburg, where he talks about inspirations and upbringing, as well as some Christmas reflections from the filmmakers, which are about as nauseating as that sounds. Musically, a "Smokey and the Steamer” song is included that didn’t make it to the final theatrical cut, which gives some background to the hobo character, along with a bunch of Josh Groban crap for anyone who doesn’t want to stuff a sock in his mouth to make him stop singing. (Warner)