*** Official THE POLAR EXPRESS Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Peter Kline, Oct 24, 2004.

  1. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    Rave review. The film seems to have been filmed live-action and then digitally "rotoscoped". Anyway go here for review.
     
  2. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    My pal Erik saw a screening at the Chicago Film Festival, and he was raving like a schoolboy. In a good way.
     
  3. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    This film along with "The Incredibles" (also getting excellent "buzz" in a Time article) will make it a booming Holiday for animation.
     
  4. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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  5. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    An IMAX 3-D version?! WOW!
     
  6. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    Wow, I'll have to give it a chance then. I haven't liked any of the trailers thus far.
     
  7. Steve Felix

    Steve Felix Supporting Actor

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    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.
     
  8. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    Too bad more theatres aren't equipped for IMAX 3-D (though the number is constantly growing)





    It is very cool that the 3-D version is being released on the same day as the flat/2-D release so those of us near an IMAX venue don't have to wait to see the film or (shudder) see it flat.





    POLAR EXPRESS is the first ever IMAX 3-D feature length film. If it is successful at all, I wouldn't be surprised to see future CGI family films follow suit.





    BTW, we are talking about polarized (clear glasses) 3-D here, and not the inferior red/blue technique used to project SPY KIDS.
     
  9. dpippel

    dpippel HTF Premium Member

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    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.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "The Polar Express" please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.

    All HTF member film reviews of "The Polar Express" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.


    Crawdaddy
     
  11. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I agree. Isn't it all basically just motion capture? It's like doing a cel animation film and hyping up the film's technique by saying that you rotoscoped the whole thing.
     
  12. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

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    There have been some early reviews that mention the "deadness" in the eyes of the characters. I noticed this in the trailers (No such thing for "The Incredibles" though!).
     
  13. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    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.
     
  14. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    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.
     
  15. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    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.
     
  16. Pete-D

    Pete-D Screenwriter

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    I think the CGI animation will hurt this movie rather than help it.

    I really don't buy the notion that this had to be CGI only. If Harry Potter can be done in live action, this could have been also.

    People want to see the real Tom Hanks not a CGI "almost real" version.
     
  17. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    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.

    Otherwise, I recommend it wholeheartedly.
     
  18. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Cinematographer

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    Count me as another who finds this animation creepy.







    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.
     
  19. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    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.
     
  20. EdHoch

    EdHoch Stunt Coordinator

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    Paul,

    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?

    That's my half baked theory anyway...
     

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