Leslie Harter Zemeckis
Tom Hanks, a Zemeckis staple with CAST AWAY and FORREST GUMP, does multiple voices here and the end result is characters that sound very much alike! No, the kids wonít be able to tell, but any adult with a modicum of hearing capability will be disappointed in the lack of variety. What separates THE POLAR EXPRESS from other classic holiday films, is that lasting quality that helps define what Christmas is about. The film seems so impressed with the fact that it can do anything and yet ends up doing nothing. Bottom line - the kids will watch this one till the end (free babysitter alert!), but there isnít much for the grown-ups. Best to watch this one just after that big Christmas dinner, so you can catch a great cat nap!
(Note: My five year old, who watched this one all the way through, said to give this one ďa lot of starsĒ. Thought when asked what he thought of this one in comparison to his current favorite Madagascar, he quickly replied, ďItís good, but itís not that goodĒ! Like father, like son!)
The only feature on this disc is a Theatrical Trailer, what no tag team Hanks/Zemeckis commentary? Ba humbug!
You Look Familiar (4:11): A look at the many characters, all of which are played by Tom Hanks. This is a short and succinct min-doc that has just the right amount of film footage, on set stuff and itís not too talky. This is the way these featurettes should be. Quick and easy. (Interesting for adults only!)
A Genuine Ticket To Ride (1:58): I was initially annoyed at this one, and then realized that it was a doc designed for kids! Very smart. Just loose Hanks and Zemeckis talking, and you could have the first featurette that explains complicated stuff to kids in an entertaining way! (Could they go back and re-edit it?!) It will still mostly be liked by the little ones, but itís much too childish for grown ups. (Whose your damn audience for these featurettes!?) Itís then broken down into five mini docs that can be played individually or as a Play All (11:27)
ē Performance Capture (2:18): Having the characters in the film describe the special effects process is a great learning tool for the little ones. The interruptions by real life boring technicians and others, not so much. This one is a half and half, half for kids, half not.
ē Virtual Camera (2:02): Damn, there was so much possibility here. This one focuses on camera placement when creating through a virtual world. Too many talking heads will bore the kids! (Aka loose the damn real people!)
ē Hair And Wardrobe (2:23): Enough stuff for the kids to enjoy, as there is more character explanation then real people. This one discusses creating hair and clothes for virtual characters. Nice goodies in this min-doc sack!
ē Creating The North Pole (1:43): Guys, how can you take a featurette about the North Pole and make it almost 90% real person, talking heads?! (Itís about the friggin North Pole, donít make it rocket science!!!!!)
ē Music (2:59): Not for kids and adults will be yawning. (Like I just did!) And a five year old doesnít know who Steven Tyler is and probably doesnít care!
True Inspirations: An Authorís Adventure (5:29): Strictly for adults, this one goes into the background of the author of the book, Chris Van Allsburg. Put together well, and saves what could have been a boring doc and turns it into something fun to watch.
Josh Groban At The Creek (4:33): Here, footage from the film is edited alongside Josh Groban singing the song ďBelieveĒ live on stage. Strictly for fans of Groban, which judging by the audience is teenage girls!
Behind The Scenes Of ďBelieveĒ (4:24): A thorough ass kissing session. Everyone is great, everything is completely fulfilling, isnít the world wonderful when you have fame and money?!
Meet The Snow Angels (2:44): Here, the cast and crew discuss their Christmas experiences and favorite presents. A little self serving. (And isnít this the sort of stuff that people like celebrities complain they want to keep private?!)
Additional Song (7:04): This is a musical number that was cut from the film, Smokey and Steamer singing It Takes Two. Both characters were voiced by the late, great Michael Jeter, who passed away during the filming. A nice tribute to a funny guy. (Check out his great and over the top work in THE FISHER KING!)
There is also a THQ PC Game Demo (0:32) and a Polar Express Challenge, a game that kids will definitely like to play, as they control the steering on an out of control Polar Express. Plus there are hidden Easter eggs for those who crave more! (Hint: check out those golden tickets!)