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The Polar Express - Preview

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 used.

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 prowess.

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 Christmas Eve."

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 Christmas.

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.

Polar Express UK Micro-site - hop on board!

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