Promising to be this holiday season's family film blockbuster, the revolutionary computer-animated The Polar Express-based on a best-selling children's book, starring the voice of Tom Hanks and directed by Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis-is a classic Christmas film with a modern look. The soundtrack album also mixes the classic with the contemporary, with immortal versions of the greatest Christmas songs ever penned, such as "White Christmas" from Bing Crosby and new recordings from Josh Groban "Believe", Aerosmith's Steven Tyler "Rockin' On Top Of The World" and others. This Christmas everyone will be getting on board The Polar Express.
In adapting Chris Van Allsburg's beloved, 1986 Caldecott Medal winning children's Christmas fable, director Robert Zemeckis fused the technologies of live-action motion capture and CGI to an unprecedented degree, producing a visual sensibility that perfectly embodies the netherworld between fantasy and reality that made the book so inviting. Musically, Zemeckis has shrewdly teamed longtime collaborator Alan Silvestri with hit tunesmith Glen Ballard for the original half his soundtrack, then given the rest over to a star-packed tribute to pop Christmas past that includes such timeless chestnuts as Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," "Winter Wonderland" by the Andrew Sisters and Perry Como's "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." But the Silvestri/Ballard originals here are the main event, from Tom Hanks' vigorous vocal mugging on the title track and "Hot Chocolate" through the innocent charm of "When Christmas Comes to Town" and the over-the-top, jumpin' jive of Steven Tyler's "Rockin' On Top of the World." Josh Groban's "Believe" overdoes the treacle, but Silvestri's rich choral workouts and underscore suite are grand Hollywood-scaled tributes to the spirit of the season. Also available in a deluxe, illustrated children's book format gift edition
that includes an actual encased jingle bell embedded in the cover. --Jerry McCulley