• 11-30-2005, 05:19 AM
    Sir Terrence the Terrible
    The Polar Express=One entertaining movie
    Rarely have I come accross a movie so good, so well done that I cannot gush about it enough. Many of todays film rely so heavily on the special effects and sonic bombast that the story telling get lost. This movie provides a complete balance of technology, great story telling, and the pace of the plot.

    The unnamed young hero of Polar Express suspects that Santa Claus is a great fraud perpetrated on children everywhere. He’s accumulated a scrapbook of articles that lead him to believe that Santa only exists when someone is hired to don the suit to stand on a street corner to collect change, or to appear at a department store to coax gift wishes out of naively unsuspecting children. And it’s clear that he’s not very happy about his discovery.

    It’s Christmas Eve; our young hero lies in bed pretending to be asleep and listening to his mom and dad conspiratorially whisper to one another. He’s forcing himself to stay awake so he can finally resolve whether Santa or his parents leave presents under the tree. But instead of hearing a quiet tumult in the living room as gifts are pulled from their hiding places, or the jingle of sleigh bells and the clomping of hooves on the roof, he’s startled by a remarkably loud train and its powerful steam engine. He looks out his bedroom window to find that it’s on an oddly unnoticed set of tracks that run down the center of his street. He pulls on his robe and runs to the curb, amazed that an imposing train is standing in front of his modest suburban home.

    A friendly conductor with a touch of curmudgeon bids him onboard; he explains that the train is the Polar Express and it’s bound for the North Pole. Our young hero finds himself seated with a small group of children; among them is a bright and assertive girl we’ll call young heroine (Nona Gaye), an obnoxious know-it-all (Eddie Deezen), and a sad and lonely little boy from the poorer side of town (Peter Scolari). These are the characters that share many of our young hero’s adventures, and adventure is the operative word. From ice-covered tracks, to grades that resemble a roller coaster, to our young hero trying to save the young heroine when he believes she’s in danger, this will not be a boring ride.

    As might be obvious for a G-rated film, the Polar Express arrives safely, but the North Pole isn’t quite what the children expect. It’s a vast complex of buildings dedicated to the making and wrapping of the world’s holiday gifts, to maintaining a very modern means of monitoring who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, and to housing the army of elves who do Santa’s bidding. As the children are lead off the train by the conductor, they are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of elves all headed toward the center square to send Santa off on his annual mission. The young heroes and lonely boy become separated from the rest, and we discover some of the secrets of the North Pole through their eyes.

    Aside from the good story line and script, the visuals are the second star of this movie. This movie is the first to fully utilize a visual technique referred to as "performance capture" which is done by applying small dots on the body and face. This allows computers to track body motion, and facial expressions to a degree. It gives the animated characters much more realistic body movements. The picture quality is first rate with inky blacks, well saturated colors and the backgrounds look stunningly beautiful, rich with color and in some instances slightly faded clothing can be seen to simulate wear and tear. There is no grain, edge halos or enhancement. The picture looks stylistically soft, but not so soft that you cannot make out fine detail in the backgrounds. The north pole is a cornicopia of color and stunning detail which is mesmerizing to the eyes. This is a first rate transfer that will show off your display to the max.

    The audio contains a stunning mix of sound effects and Alan Silverstri score which is so well recorded, it would meet even audiophiles standards. The sound of the train comes through with great dynamic impact with floor and air shaking bass. The dialog is dry ADR, perfectly recorded and sewn into the soundfield, never sounding unnatural or buried. From the highs to the lows the music sounds breathtaking, with a huge deep front soundstage that wraps exquisitly around to the surrounds. The panning of effects is seemless whether its front to back, or back to front. The LFE is powerful, without being overwhelming. The entire mix exhibits a perfect balance between sound effect, music and dialog. Every film student in school with a push in audio should hear this mix, as it is an example of one of the finest every put together for a film

    I cannot say enough about this great christmas movie. It IMO is a must buy for anyone with children, and great entertainment for adult as well. It is a perfect reference DVD to show off your hometheater to the fullest. Don't walk but run out and get this DVD!!
  • 11-30-2005, 07:51 AM
    Kam
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    The audio contains a stunning mix of sound effects and Alan Silverstri score which is so well recorded, it would meet even audiophiles standards. The sound of the train comes through with great dynamic impact with floor and air shaking bass. The dialog is dry ADR, perfectly recorded and sewn into the soundfield, never sounding unnatural or buried. From the highs to the lows the music sounds breathtaking, with a huge deep front soundstage that wraps exquisitly around to the surrounds. The panning of effects is seemless whether its front to back, or back to front. The LFE is powerful, without being overwhelming. The entire mix exhibits a perfect balance between sound effect, music and dialog. Every film student in school with a push in audio should hear this mix, as it is an example of one of the finest every put together for a film

    I cannot say enough about this great christmas movie. It IMO is a must buy for anyone with children, and great entertainment for adult as well. It is a perfect reference DVD to show off your hometheater to the fullest. Don't walk but run out and get this DVD!!

    oh man, if the audio is that good, makes me think of that train ice-skid scene.... might be a new "reference" scene to check out! gonna have to pick it up AND go see it on the imax again!!!!!
  • 11-30-2005, 08:13 AM
    kexodusc
    Thanks for the excellent review Sir T....I'll have to check this one out. Somehow, I missed it when it hit theaters.
  • 12-06-2005, 06:16 AM
    Worf101
    We watched it last night... Thanks for recommend T.T.
    Gotta give Sir TT the love on this one "The Polar Express" is an instant holiday classic! Okay, I admit it, I'm a sucker for holiday movies. Can't get through em without crying. I was sobbing a lot during this one. Yeah big ole rough, tough Klingon me. Particularly bad when they get the poor kid on the train. I grew up dirt poor in the Projects of New York City. I've had many a "toyless Christmas", so I know how that kid felt. I also thought it was amazing that they had the good sense not to show his gift. Cause this movie isn't about "stuff" it's about that special time of year when we believe the best of the human beings and the human spirit....

    Great tip and choice there Sir T.T. and I owe you one big time.

    Da Worfster :D
  • 12-06-2005, 07:09 AM
    GMichael
    Bought this the other day, thanks to Sir T's & other's comments. It was very enjoyable. I've never been a big fan of hights. I almost ripped the arms off my chair.

    Thanks guys.