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Polar Express - Runaway Success or Train Wreck Waiting to Happen?

November 10th, 2004

Opening just five days after the debut of The Incredibles is the latest digitally animated offering, Polar Express.

The film is earning reviews that are above average, but not at the level needed to become an instant classic. A lot of the complaints can be divided into two categories, those complaining about the overly calculated sense of sentimentality in the storytelling and those complaining about the technological failures of the film. Most of the complaints fall in the later category.

The makers of Polar Express used motion capture technology to bring about the smoothest human motion in a CGI film so far. But facial features are too subtle for the computer to accurately portray them, so the humans come of as strangely lifeless, animated dolls. Welcome to the Uncanny Valley. Ironically, if the rest of the movie weren't so well rendered, this problem wouldn't be as apparent.

Look for $5 million tonight, $3 million on Thursday and $30 million over the weekend. That's a strong start, but considering the cost of the film, ($150 million budgeted, $165 million with overruns) it is probably not a strong enough start.

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Filed under: The Polar Express