One thing is clear from Hollywood's latest attempt at generating photo-realistic human characters through computer animation: The technology has not reached a level at which it can capture the awe of a child. This is a fundamental problem for "The Polar Express," which tries very hard to be an instant-classic Christmas movie.
The glitch is in the eyes -- there's just no life behind them. In this picture, they're pixel-driven doll orbs without personality or presence. And CGI animators still can't seem to create a blink that doesn't look animatronic. It's enough of a distraction that anyone over the age of 10 or 12 will likely wonder why director Robert Zemeckis (who dabbled in animation with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit") didn't shoot the film live-action -- unless he just wanted to show off, as he clearly did when CGI-ing President Clinton into several scenes in 1997's "Contact" for no good reason.
But in spirit, "The Polar Express" comes very close to embodying the magic of the holiday it's supposed to celebrate -- if you can get past several more Zemeckis-isms.
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