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PCR # 242  (Vol. 5, No. 46)  This edition is for the week of November 8--14, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Polar Express"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Warner Brothers     
Starring the voices of: Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezen, Nona Gaye and Michael Jeter
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Rated: G
Running Time: 1 hour 35 mins

Do you believe in Santa Claus? I do. I know he exists because in the early morning hours of December 25, 1966 I was awakened by noises on the roof. Getting up to investigate, I was surprised to find the jolly old man himself in our living room, putting presents under the tree. I've still got the pictures of my talking to him. And even though, years later, I thought Santa bore a very strong resemblance to my father's friend, Ed Keller, I kept my faith in Kris Kringle and always will.

"The Polar Express" is a movie that asks the same question. A young boy has reached the age where he is very skeptical about Santa. Does he really bring the presents? Stuff the stockings? Drink the milk and eat the cookies you leave behind? Laying in his bed late Christmas Eve, he is awakened by the sound of a train outside his house. Investigating, he is met by a friendly porter who tells him that the train is the Polar Express and that it's destination is the North Pole. If he has doubts, he can go back to bed. If he has faith, he can get on and see for himself. Getting on, he finds himself surrounded by similar minded children, though their reasonings are as different as their backgrounds.

Based on the popular children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, "The Polar Express" is another step forward in the world of computer animation. In the hands of "Forrest Gump" Oscar winners Hanks and Zemeckis, the film flows smoothly, with some of the most beautiful visuals ever put on screen. Hanks has no less then five parts and he brings a different quality to each. The other characters are just as well developed and Zemeckis has cast the perfect actors to voice them. Deezen (probably best known as Eugene from the movie "Grease") is hilarious as the know it all while Nona Gaye (daughter of Motown legend Marvin Gaye) and former Hanks "Bosom Buddy" pal Peter Scolari shine. Also nice to hear the late, great Michael Jeter in his final film role. As for the animation, the film is visually stunning. From the fabric of the clothing to the beauty of a fresh snowfall to the plumage on a majestic bird as it soars into the wind, the detail is amazing. It's a testament to the work that you often forget you are watching an animated film. And that may be the biggest compliment I can give it.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "The Polar Express"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "The Polar Express" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.