The Polar Express chugs its way into our hearts

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Photo Credit: DeAndre Oglesby

The Polar Express chugs its way into hearts to fill us with Christmas spirit every year.

By: DeAndre Oglesby, Senior Editor

One great way that people celebrate the holiday season is by watching their favorite Christmas movies. And one of the most popular Christmas specials out there is The Polar Express, which came out in 2004.

Inspired by Chris Van Allsburg’s award-winning children’s book of the same name; this animated holiday classic has made about $184,000,000 since its initial release. The Polar Express follows the story of a boy that doubts the existence of Santa Claus. One Christmas Eve, a magical train (The Polar Express) takes him and others to the North Pole to see Santa. While on this magical journey to the North Pole, he makes new friends and discovers the true meaning of Christmas.

If there’s one thing The Polar Express does right, it most definitely has to be the animation. The animation in the film is astonishing, breathtaking, out of this world. You can see every snowflake, every particle of light, every minute detail of the clothing.

In fact, the animation so good, at some points it looked like it was live action. In addition, the color pallet of dark blues, radiant reds, snowy whites, and vibrant golds just screams Christmas!

Tom Hanks does a really good job at voice acting. He voices the main character, the Conductor, the Hobo, and Santa himself. You can barely tell it’s Hanks’s voice doing the characters. The only character in which one could really tell it’s him is the Conductor. Furthermore, he’s amazing when it comes to singing. Which brings us to our next point.

The musical score for The Polar Express is fantastic. The song Hot Chocolate has a great scene to go with it. It features waiters bouncing off the walls doing gravity defying stunts, and Hot Coco flying everywhere. When Christmas Comes to Town is good too, but it has one huge flaw which I’ll get to later.

The train itself even has its own theme song that the children in the movie sing along to. The composer, Alan Silvestri does a great job at capturing the true spirit of Christmas through his use of vocalists, violinists, and wind instruments.

The Polar Express may have good vocals and animation, however, there are flaws that prevent it from being the perfect holiday special. For example, the scene in which the song When Christmas Comes to Town is featured serves no purpose whatsoever. If you were to cut the scene from the movie entirely, the plot wouldn’t have been affected in any way, shape, or form.

One huge plot hole that the movie suffers from is it’s inconsistency with time. When the boy leaves his house to get on the train, it’s 11:55 PM. However, when the boy and his friends reach their destination, it’s still 11:55 PM! Even one of the characters, the Know-It-All Kid, points this out. And Conductor just brushes it off like its no problem.

Moreover, when the boy arrives home, it’s 12:00 AM. The problem with this is that he left the North Pole at the same time! Either the writers are completely incompetent or The Polar Express is a time traveling choo choo train. I believe the former is the more likely scenario.

If there’s one thing that always infuriated me about The Polar Express, it has to be the lack of names for the characters. The boy in which we follow throughout the movie has no name, the Conductor has no name, the Hobo has no name, and his friends have no name. The only one of his friends that do have a name is Billy. However, we don’t find out Billy’s name until the third act of the film! So the viewer is just left to his/her own devices. The viewer has to come up with nicknames of their own to give the characters.

Not giving the characters names is not only incredibly lazy, but it makes the characters seem less memorable. If someone were to ask you to recite a line one of the characters said in this movie, you’d probably look at them like they had a thousand heads.

In spite of the movie’s minor flaws, I can sit back and relatively enjoy this film because of it’s theme and deeper meaning. The message that The Polar Express tries to convey is: having faith in the impossible can be a good thing. If you try to make sense of everything around you, you’ll be stripping yourself of the blissful ignorance that comes with some things in life.

During the final act of the movie, the boy is unable to hear the bells on Santa’s sleigh, while everyone else can. You can notice he’s uncomfortable and isn’t having fun, unlike his friends. This is due to his lack of faith. Once he decides to stop questioning things and just believe, he was finally able to hear the bell. Sometimes you have to decide whether ignorance is better than the cold truth. And in this case, blissful ignorance was the champion.

Sometimes you have to decide whether ignorance is better than the cold hard truth. And in this case, blissful ignorance was the champion.

The Polar Express may have it’s issues but its vocals, theme, and visuals make the ride worthwhile. It serves the purpose that any holiday special should, to get you excited for Christmas. Obviously, not every holiday special out there is going to be Oscar worthy. I’d recommend The Polar Express to those who don’t mind turning their brain off for a good hour and thirty minutes.

If I were to rate The Polar Express, I would give it three candy canes out of five. You can buy the movie on Amazon for the low low price of $6.99 with potential shipping and handling.

Three out of five candy canes = an Ugly Sweater
Photo Credit: Photo via wiki commons under creative commons license
Three out of five candy canes = an Ugly Sweater

 

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