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The Polar Express (Picture 2)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Polar Express Cartoon Picture 2
image dimensions : 800 x 530
The Polar Express (Picture 2) cartoon, animated, movie, Warner Bros, Robert Zemeckis, IMAX 3D theaters, images, widescreen, wallpaper, gallery, funny, picture, photo. All cinema is artifice. This isn’t a groundbreaking epiphany or statement, but the success of most movies hinges on the audience not taking that statement into account. But it’s true: all cinema is artifice of one kind or another. Even documentaries have some artificiality, because no matter how blisteringly true something from, say, Errol Morris is, he’s still shaped the raw footage he collected into a movie. Fictional films are far more artificial, depending on the content and presentation. Sometimes, if the director is shrewd enough, they can manipulate the audience in such a way that they’ve completely forgotten that they’re sitting in a darkened movie theater, so they believe they’re part of the movie they’re watching. Robert Zemeckis used to be such a director. There was a time–back when he made movies with real people, not animation–when his movies felt as timeless and magical as anything from Steven Spielberg. The Polar Express (Picture 2). Spielberg produced the trilogy that helped Zemeckis leap triumphantly into the mainstream, the Back to the Future films. I mentioned it on the show, but I’ll emphasize it here: I love the first Back to the Future film. (For posterity, I like Back to the Future, Part II a lot, despite appreciating its many flaws, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the final entry in the series.) I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was watching it on HBO and reciting the film’s script, not only line by line but matching the emotions the actors are evincing. I wasn’t just able to parrot Christopher Lloyd as he said, to Michael J. Fox, “Weight has nothing to do with it,” in response to Fox’s Marty McFly commenting on the gravity of his time-traveling situation by saying “Heavy.” No, I was emulating the baffled frustration in Lloyd’s voice. Point is, I love Back to the Future. And I love Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the first true example of Zemeckis’ ambitious thirst to make unique and technologically advanced entertainments. It’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch this zany trip into nostalgia, but Who Framed Roger Rabbit clues us in to a problem Robert Zemeckis has had in the last decade: technological wizardry is more important to him than telling good stories well. Even from Cast Away, which features a bravura lead performance from Tom Hanks, it’s been clear that Zemeckis is more interested in pointing out what kind of cool tricks he’s pulled off. Though Cast Away is a good film, I remember the hubbub surrounding its production more than the movie itself. “Look, Tom Hanks lost so much weight and they had to pause production for six months!” Four years later, however, is when Zemeckis would throw his lot in with pure artificiality: motion-capture animation. Ever since The Polar Express in 2004, Robert Zemeckis has been disturbing people around the globe. OK, that’s a bit much, but one of the chief criticisms of that holiday film was that the human characters didn’t look quite right. There was something in the eyes, or more appropriately, there wasn’t something in the eyes. Why get invested in a story populated with such lifeless automatons? I discussed this a bit on the show, but I never had much of a problem with the characters in The Polar Express, at least not to the same degree that I found fault in Zemeckis’ other holiday film, the 2009 Walt Disney Pictures film A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge, Gary Oldman as Jacob Marley and Bob Cratchit, and Colin Firth as Fred. The Polar Express (Picture 2)



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