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Let me get this out of the way right now Im pretty sure kids will love The Polar Express the full-length movie based on Chris Van Allsburgs beloved 32-page book While I like to think that I still have an inner child Robert Zemeckiss latest cinematic stunt gave me the wrong kind of chills Using motion-capture CGI technology--live actors and cameras and reflective pellets and infrared capture receptors--Zemeckis has made a movie during which every five minutes the adults in the audience can tell themselves Ooh that kind of looked real As one of Tom Hankss five characters says in the film Sometimes the most real things in the world are the ones we cant see Hanks provides the motion-capture performance though not the voice for Hero Boy a child who has ceased to believe in Santa Claus On Christmas Eve he awakes--or does he--to the thundering sound of the Polar Express which pulls up right outside his door Invited on by a conductor performed and voiced by Hanks the boy meets some new chums has video-game-styled adventures and learns to believe again sorry gave away the ending In a newfangled twist on Frank Morgans work in The Wizard of Oz Hanks also plays the boys father a hobo ghost and a certain jolly old elf Of course just about every childrens film wants to motion capture The Wizard of Oz Harry Potter and Willy Wonka also haunt this train and its destination but The Polar Express has a bland doll in Hero Boy and repetitive roller-coaster theatrics for its adventure Whenever the screenwriters--Zemeckis and William Broyles Jr--are in doubt they add a roller-coaster pastiche or some skiing business or a slalom Too little of the high-speed-travel action is inventive though a winking exaggeration of Zemeckiss feather riff from Forrest Gump provides an oooohhh-worthy sequence When the loud cluttery soundtrack slows down enough we get John Williams twinkle from Zemeckis scorer Alan
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