...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Friday, November 12, 2004

Sleigh bells ring, are ya listenin'? No.

I'm fascinated by the huge discrepencies between Ebert and the New York Times's reviews of The Polar Express. Ebert gave it four stars and raved, while Dargis seemed to be offended by it on a deep level.

See, the movie looks terrible to me. I could not believe it when I first saw the trailer a few months ago, because I liked the children's book, but the animation? Thank you, Manohla Dargis, for not being afraid to speak the truth: the characters look dead. They look like zombie robots. The trailer made the movie look so unappealing to me (and granted, I'm probably not in the target demographic, but still) that I kind of wanted to see it just to see how bad it was.

I don't love Ebert, but I generally agree with his reviews or can at least see where he's coming from. But he writes: "The Polar Express is a movie for more than one season; it will become a perennial, shared by the generations. It has a haunting, magical quality because it has imagined its world freshly and played true to it, sidestepping all the tiresome Christmas cliches that children have inflicted on them this time of year."

Dargis, on the other hand, writes: "It's likely, I imagine, that most moviegoers will be more concerned by the eerie listlessness of those characters' faces and the grim vision of Santa Claus's North Pole compound, with interiors that look like a munitions factory and facades that seem conceived along the same oppressive lines as Coketown, the red-brick town of "machinery and tall chimneys" in Dickens's "Hard Times." Tots surely won't recognize that Santa's big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler's Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will." But their parents may marvel that when Santa's big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum."

HA! Take that, Polar Express!

I'm going to see the movie over winter break, assuming it's either out on DVD then or in the second-run theater, and if it's any good, then I'll cheerfully take it all back. But I guarantee it will be bad. I mean, airborne scrotum?

Edited to add a link to the FameTracker discussion of the movie. Oh, FameTracker, how I love thee! Also, I forgot to mention that part of the reason I don't like the movie is that Tom Hanks is in it. I don't love Tom Hanks.