The trailers didn't do anything for me either, but I'm keeping the faith in Zemeckis. Trailers can't convey heart (see The Iron Giant campaign). Pixar movies are trailer friendly but the sitcom stuff that gets into those trailers are not the reason we love the films.
I haven't watched the film yet, but from what I've seen of the animation in the trailers I'm not too impressed. It looks very stiff and forced to me. Every time I see any footage from The Polar Express my eye is immediately drawn to the awkwardness of the characters' movement.
I got to see this on Friday.. short thought.. the animation kind of creeps me out. I can't say what it is about it, but I found it far more creepy then entertaining. I'll think about a longer type review and post it later.
I'm afraid this film will suffer from the 'Uncanny effect' coined by a Japanese robotics engineer and mentioned by Roger Ebert in some of his reviews. The effect states that as a robot becomes more human in appearance, a persons acceptance of it increases up to a point. However, if the similarity crosses that point the uncanny effect slips in and the similarity becomes creepy and off-putting. I believe its one reason why Final Fantasy was not a greater success and I fear it will affect the Polar Express. When the characters are "almost human" the human brain which is hardwired to know human faces and moves begins to seek out inconsistencies in the image. Seeing the trailer I was disturbed by the deadness in the eyes and masklike effect of the faces.
That might describe it. I have no idea what it is about the film, but it did give me the willies. Something about it just seemed almost morbid. I know that's a strange way to look at a kid's film, but I couldn't get the thought out of my head.
Maybe it is the eyes of the characters, or whatever, but I just had this terrible "skin crawl" kind of feeling about it that despite the storyline I couldn't get over.
To be really honest, I almost never have bad dreams about films, but man, I had a psychotic dream with some of the characters from this film in it the night after I watched it.
I saw this movie on Saturday. I loved the script, the story and the action sequences, which are so imaginative as to knock your socks off. I will go see it again in IMAX 3-D as I'm sure it will be an amazing experience.
IMO, the animation of the actors wasn't even as realistic as FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN. The "people" in the film looked waxy and limited in expression and depth. Every time the lip movement didn't match the voice, I was reminded that I was looking at something in its very, very early stages of development. It's kind of the way I felt in the 60's when I looked at stop motion animation and imagined that one day it would be done seamlessly. I think that's where we are with digital actors today, in the stop-motion phase of their development, so to speak.
And yet, the story and Zemeckis' touches are so much better than anything you saw in FANTASY, it wouldn't surprise me if this movie does end up as some kind of classic. It deserves to.
Just one parental warning: the action is way too intense for kids under 7 or 8. There were a couple of 5 year-olds behind us in the theater who were totally freaked out by the cliffhanging action.
Count me as another who finds this animation creepy.
quote:I was reminded that I was looking at something in its very, very early stages of development. It's kind of the way I felt in the 60's when I looked at stop motion animation and imagined that one day it would be done seamlessly.
I don't see the similarity; those Rankin and Bass holiday specials have a charm and warmth that has nothing to do with them being realistic or seamless.
The animation in The Polar Express looks like dead wax marionetts being pulled on strings. Compared to the "fakeness" of something like Team America, which actually were puppets on strings, I'll take the non-seamless variety.
It is the facial expressions, dead eyes, and awful lack of a sense of "motivation" under the movements that just isn't working to this films advantage.
The IMAX 3-D version is amazing. Many previous IMAX 3-D films have had major photographic errors resulting in eye-strain causing moments, but THE POLAR EXPRESS is flawless. The giant screen and depth added immeasurably to the film---I can't imagine seeing it on the small, flat screen.
I didn't mind the animation in the context of the film, though it did look creepy in the trailers.
3-D tip (IMAX or otherwise): get to the theatre early and sit as far back as possible and in the center. Avoid the first few rows.
Glad you liked it! BTW, on the Hanks thing, I wasn't saying that him voicing multiple characters wasn't intentional, I'm sure it was.
I was wondering "why" they did it that way. What was the intent of doing it that way? Were they trying to maintain the "is it real, is it a dream" thing by having everybody sort of sounded like the kid's Dad?