TEMPLARKNIGHT’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY MOVIES
7. The Polar Express
When this movie came out, I originally didn’t want anything to do with it. The animation looked bad, and I was much more into The Incredibles(which I saw 3-4 times in theaters). I went years without seeing it until 2012 when I was strongly gripped in the Christmas spirit and more willing to enjoy bad movies for the sake of trashing them.
It actually is fairly heartwarming and can hit the spot if you are in the mood for Christmas joy. And the animation is pretty good, as long as you only pay attention to the main characters. If you look at say, the waiters on the train serving Hot Chocolate, you see the deadfaced soulless faces of the damned, forced to live on the train for all eternity for sins of a most egregious nature.
The story follows a young boy known only as boy. Played by Tom Hanks. Yeah, I kid you not, they have his voice altered to sound like a young boy. Why can’t we have voice actors do that ALL the time instead of having women voice them all the time? Oh right. Money.
Yeah, Tom Hanks gets around in this movie. Most of them are obvious, but it wasn’t until I was watching Tom Hanks do the motion capture that I realized he was also playing the boy.
Well, Boy is having doubts about there even being a Santa Claus. He doesn’t send a letter to Santa and his parents are worried about him.
The kid from The Santa Clause and this kid need to swap families. It would divert the entire plot of both movies.
As Boy is about to slip off to dreamland, a Train pulls up outside and he goes out to investigate. Tom Hanks the Conductor greets Tom Hanks the Boy and invites him onto the Polar Express.
The Boy continues to be dubious, but decides to get on. They make another stop to pick up the only kid with a name in this movie, Billy.
Billy annoys me. Apparently, Christmas just “never works out for him.” Which I understand. However, he continuously excludes himself from everything. He almost decides to not get on the Polar Express except at the LAST minute, causing the whole train to come to a screeching halt. Then he decides to sit in the back of the train away from everybody.
Being antisocial myself, I get that one wholeheartedly.
Later he decides he won’t even get off the train to see Santa Claus. Until Boy and Girl convince him to go(before going into an entirely different adventure). He finally sees that he WILL be getting a present, but he refuses to let the present go, causing further mayhem and padding the movie out further.
I just find him annoying in his pessimism.
So going back to after they pick Billy up, the train conductor has the waitstaff of the damned serve hot chocolate to the children onboard. It is a fun little song and dance, but the song gets kind of annoying without the visuals.
As disturbing as those visuals can be. . .
The Girl notices that Billy didn’t get any Hot Chocolate, so her and the Boy take him back some. This is where we get the best song of the movie, “When Christmas Comes to Town.” It’s a nice duet between The Girl and Billy where The Girl talks about all the magical moments she experiences during Christmas and Billy lamenting all the things he has missed out on Christmas.
Through a weird series of events, the Boy somehow loses the Girl’s ticket and The Conductor seems like he is going to throw her from the train. The ticket goes on its own adventure before returning to the Boy. He decides to climb on top of the train
to fight terrorists to return the ticket.
While climbing on the train, the Boy meets Hobo Tom Hanks. Hobo Tom Hanks is the voice of doubt in the Boy. But he also helps the Boy get to the front of the train. Just in time, because Thanos just snapped his fingers and Hobo Tom Hanks isn’t feeling very well.
The train nearly runs into a pack of caribou, then has to go ice skating to get back on course. They finally make it to the North Pole. Once there, Boy, Girl, and Billy all end up taking an unsupervised back lot tour of the toy factory and due to Billy’s clinginess, get caught up in Santa’s sack.
The elves who are loading the sack onto the sleigh manage to get them out and the children join the others waiting for Santa.
This last 15 minutes is honestly the heart of the movie. And honestly that is how most good holiday movies are made. The first 80% of the movie can honestly be absolutely bonkers insanity, but it is usually in that last 20% that the feeling of the season takes over and usually where the good movies separate from the bad.
The Boy sees the bells of Santa’s Sleigh being brought out and everyone can hear them except for him. Everyone is saying they are the greatest sound they ever heard, but he hears nothing. Then Santa steps out, but the Boy can’t get a good look at him due to the crowd. A bell falls off the sleigh and rolls to the Boy. He shakes it and hears. . . nothing.
Finally, the Boy chooses to believe and when he shakes the bell again, a ringing sound comes out. And Santa is right behind him.
Santa chooses the Boy as the one to receive the first present and the Boy asks for the bell. After Santa flies away, the children return to the Polar Express. Once back on the Train, the Boy realizes the bell fell out of the hole in his pocket. All the children are returned home.
The next morning, the Boy finds a present under the tree from Santa containing the missing bell. The parents can’t hear it, but the Boy and his sister can. The narrator tells how the bell fell silent for everyone, even his sister, except for him.
I honestly recommend this film to anyone who hasn’t seen it. If you get the chance to see it in theaters in 3-D, even better. Like I said, The visuals are amazing as long as you stick to the main characters and not the background stuff.
Next Time: An animated Movie where you should look at EVERYTHING. . . though technically an easter movie.