Despite its disappointing opening weekend and more-sluggish-than-expected box-office pace, "The Polar Express" just about made its money back in theaters. This two-disc release should put it over the hump -- and that may explain the sales-pitch feeling to the extras attached to this 2004 adaptation of the classic Chris Van Allsburg book.

Despite its disappointing opening weekend and more-sluggish-than-expected box-office pace, “The Polar Express” just about made its money back in theaters. This two-disc release should put it over the hump — and that may explain the sales-pitch feeling to the extras attached to this 2004, Tom Hanks-powered adaptation of the classic Chris Van Allsburg book.

The story of a little boy’s trip to the North Pole, lofted along on Van Allsburg’s ethereal illustrations, has been a children’s fave for years, but the movie lacked the book’s simple charm — something the exhaustive, and insistent, behind-the-scenes segments try to get around by virtue of the movie’s technological achievements. Performance capture, the process by which the film’s human actors (Hanks voices six parts in all) were animated, is explained in detail, and it’s quite amazing.

“If we could imagine it, we could do it,” Hanks says during a break in the action, where he wears a Lycra suit festooned with blue sensors that tracked his movements.

His words, however, point up the conundrum of high technology and contemporary moviemaking: Audiences know filmmakers can do anything. The charm is in doing something that’s emotionally engaging, and all the high-tech talk in the world isn’t going to make the “Polar Express” characters anything more than haunted looking — and slightly creepy.

Also included in the package are never-before-seen musical segments, a performance by Josh Groban singing “Believe” at the Greek Theater, a THQ PC game demo with two playable levels and a DVD-ROM Web link to the “Online World” of “The Polar Express.”

The Polar Express

Nov. 22; Two-Disc: $29.95

Production

A Warner Home Video release of the Robert Zemeckis film.

Cast

With: Tom Hanks.
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