Have you ever seen anything more terrifying than The Polar Express?
Roger Ebert has referred several times to the phenomenon where we readily assign human traits to cartoons and allow ourselves to feel like they're real, but when things are too close to being real, they seem fake because we focus on what's wrong with them instead.
I love Robert Zemeckis, for he is, after all, the director who brought us Back to the Future, but Polar Express looks like a huge miscalculation. Digital actors are not here yet. It will take plenty of bold, failed experiments like this one to get there, not that anyone really wants fake actors in movies, but for some reason everyone's determined to make it happen even though it's a terrible idea.
The look of this movie is creepy through and through. It has the surreal, terrifying quality of a nightmare. Yes, take a perilous train ride, meet five different weirdoes who all look like wax figures of Tom Hanks (isn't the point of multiple roles usually to try to look different in each one?), arrive in a bizarrely metropolitan North Pole where fanatical elves congregate in worshipful, near-fascist celebration of the Pope-like Santa Claus. No, no, and again no.
This is not live action and it is not a cartoon. I don't know if people will know what to make of it. I certainly don't.
For more upcoming computer animation, see:
Madagascar, from Dreamworks, about animals trying to escape from the zoo. Stupid domesticated animals. Don't they know they'll never be able to function in the wild? But hey, Ben Stiller is in it.
Robots, from Fox. Hey, it's a big step up from Ice Age. And look, Robin Williams and Ewan McGregor. And...Halle Berry. Yes, she's an excellent voice actress. To detour for a second, isn't it nice how Pixar casts actors based on what they bring to the character instead of just to throw big names into the movie? What's the point of casting an actress who's pure eye candy and delivers convincing line readings about 1% of the time to do voice acting?