A/V Room









The Polar Express - US performance

Story by: Jack Foley

GROUND-breaking Christmas tale, The Polar Express, failed to take the top spot at the US Box Office at the weekend, following the continued success of the latest Disney/Pixar adventure, The Incredibles.

The animated super-hero tale took $51m (£27.4m) over the weekend (from November 12-14, 2004), compared to the Express' $23.5m (£12.6m).

The impressive Incredibles haul means that Pixar's two-week total has now risen to $144m (£77.5m).

The Polar Express is Warner Bros multi-million entry into the Christmas genre, which boasts state-of-the-art animation, known as performance capture.

It features Tom Hanks in five roles, and is based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg.

The opening will come as a disappointment to Warner Bros execs, who splashed out in excess of $150 million on the children's adventure.

The film did, however, win over the majority of the critics, who found plenty to praise.

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The Hollywood Reporter, for instance, wrote that 'the film is not sheer wizardry; it also has heart'.

While the Chicago Sun-Times opined that 'there's a deeper, shivery tone, instead of the mindless jolliness of the usual Christmas movie'.

And the Globe and Mail wrote that 'I loved watching this movie; I loved even more watching children hugging mothers watching this movie'.

On a more negative note, Newsday wrote that 'watching the dead-eyed population of Polar Express and their supposedly 'natural' movements made me think more of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings than anything associated with Christmas.

While Village Voice noted that 'unnervingly smooth, mouths moving in strange, even frightening formations, the Polar people are the least convincing things on-screen, glaring impostors amid the otherwise painstakingly rendered scenery'.

But returning to the positives, the New York Post stated that 'devoid of 21st-century irony, this visually stunning, action-packed yuletide treat is sweet and, yes, magical in a way that will enchant kids and give older viewers a twinge of nostalgia'.

While the San Francisco Chronicle noted that it is 'an enchanting, beautiful and brilliantly imagined film that constitutes a technological breakthrough'.

And the New York Daily News concludes this round-up with the following praise: "It's a sensation - both a milestone in computer-animation and a likely Christmas classic."

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