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The Polar Express

It's a family tradition around our house to see a movie on the night before Thanksgiving to kickoff the holiday season. One of our all-time favorites was an IMAX 3D screening of Robert Zemeckis' 2004 holiday hit THE POLAR EXPRESS.

Zemeckis, who has always been on the cutting edge of technology to create new experiences on film (Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) launched new ground in motion capture with Express.

Actors wear motion capture suits to capture their performance and then they can digitally be created as any person or creature on film.

Its beautifully suited for this expanded film version of the classic holiday children's book by Chris Van Allsburg.

A young boy is realizing on Christmas Eve that he is starting to have doubts about holiday traditions and for him, believing is in its final moments.

He finds himself whisked away by a massive train that pulls up on his street, invited aboard by an energetic conductor and meeting many young friends aboard.

They travel to the North Pole to meet Santa on Christmas Eve, experiencing plenty of amazing digital action scenes and beautiful scenery and adventures along the way. The camera angles of these sequences could only be captured through digital magic and Zemeckis makes the most of it.

Tom Hanks plays the boy, the conductor, a hobo, the boys father and Santa Claus and gives each role a different spin, often disappearing behind his new computer facade.

What the film captures is the magic of believing, the treasured warmth of family traditions, the moments that make the holiday season so treasured to many.

A great music score by Alan Silvestri and songs by Glen Ballard are sprinkled throughout. Watch for an elf version of Steven Tyler near the end.

Perfect for repeated family viewing, its become a holiday favorite for kids of ALL ages in our house, including this overgrown kid.

It's a special film with it's heart in the right place and for those of us that treasure Christmas family traditions, it hits a very special note perfectly.

I can still hear the bells.

The Polar Express is a ride worth taking every year and gets an A.

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