DVD REVIEW: The Polar Express

Movie •••½ Picture/Sound •••• Extras ••
In the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg (Jumanji), a boy who is starting to doubt the existence of Santa Claus goes on a mind-expanding adventure to the North Pole. Director Robert Zemeckis takes this simple story and, by simulating the book's look, creates an eye-popping animated movie like no other. Through a process called Performance Capture, an actor's every movement is transferred to a virtual character - and in the case of Tom Hanks, several characters. The result is a living illustration.

The colorful picture on this two-disc set is as sharp as the train's whistle, with every snowflake crisply delineated. And the soundtrack's dialogue, music, and effects are just as vivid. Extras, though, are all fluff: three production featurettes, Josh Groban singing the title song, and Christmas memories from the filmmakers. The only worthwhile addition is a deleted song performed by the late Michael Jeter. [G] English, French, and Spanish, Dolby Digital 5.1; letterboxed (2.35:1) and anamorphic widescreen; one dual- and one single-layer disc.