Preview by: Jack Foley
THE dream team of Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis have reunited
in an attempt to inject some movie magic into the Christmas season,
in the form of The Polar Express.
Billed as one of Warner Bros' most ambitious projects to date,
the film - based on the best-selling children's book - cost an
estimated $200 million to make, due to the groundbreaking CGI
It centres around a young boy whose belief in Santa Claus is
rewarded on Christmas Eve when he's awakened by a stream train,
whose conductor (Tom Hanks) offers to take him on a journey to
the North Pole.
Hanks actually plays five characters in the film, including Santa
Claus, which could well rival Shrek and The Incredibles in terms
of Box Office pulling power for an animated movie.
The book from which it takes its inspirations have captivated
children for nearly 20 years, thanks to Chris Van Allsburg's literary
And it certainly left its mark on film-maker, Zemeckis.
"It became an annual tradition
to read the story to my son while he was growing up and it never
failed to fascinate him," says the self-confessed fan of
the book since its 1985 publication.
"The imagery has an otherworldly quality, existing somewhere
between dreams and reality, which captures the mystery of a restless
Adds Hanks: "There was a visceral element to the story,
I hoped would find its voice for the screen.
"For years, between November and December, depending on
the children's ages, I think I read it four times a week, twice
a night, over and over again. So I've been aware of the story
since my 14-year-old was three."
Certainly, advance footage from the movie seems to suggest that
Warner Bros might have tapped into a big screen slice of cinematic
magic to rival the small-screen intimacy of The Snowman, while
the trailer has had children gawping in awe.
And given that Hanks and Zemeckis have previously delivered the
blockbusting hits CastAway
and Forrest Gump, don't bet against them coming up trumps this
It might need to go some to justify the financial outlay, but
if it strikes a chord with audiences, it could well become one
of the most enduring Christmas movies (for children and adults
alike) of all-time.
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