We all love Christmas movies as they bring out the feel good factor of the festive season even in the most stern of us. Two of our favourites when it comes to Christmas movies are The Polar Express 2004 and A Christmas Carol 2009 both of which are animated creations of Robert Zemeckis. The question is, if we had to choose which film is the best which would we select? Here we compare the two in order to decide, see if you agree with us!
The Polar Express
The Polar Express was the first of these two films to be released and was a resounding success as the story touched the hearts of viewers adult and children alike due to its wonderful Christmas theme and message. The Polar Express is the story of a little boy who does not believe in Santa and is taken on an exciting journey to The North Pole on Christmas Eve by a magical steam train. As he boards the train the ticket collector played by Tom Hanks punches his ticket and seats the boy in a carriage filled with kids in pyjamas all looking forward to their trip to meet Santa.
The passengers include a clever girl played by Nona Gaye, a know it all kid who is very annoying played by Eddie Deezen and a shy sad lonely little boy, who has never had a happy Christmas, played by Peter Scolari. The train and its passengers have many adventures along the way to The North Pole culminating in the best scene of the film where the kids get to meet the real Santa! The central scene is phenomenal especially in 3D as Santa boards the sleigh that will be pulled by his impatient reindeer who are snorting and making the fabulous sleigh bells ring as they wait to take to the skies. Also in this scene thousands of little eleves dance and sing. It is really spectacular!
The non believer boy is singled out by Santa to receive the first present which is a sleigh bell straight from santa's sleigh thus proving to the boy that Santa does really exist. All the children learn something along the way with the smart Alec kid learning to listen and see that he isn't always right, the lonely boy learning that Christmas does come even to the poor, while our hero learns that if you believe then wonderful things can happen. Its a beautiful tale that draws children in immediately as most of the participants in the story are kids.
Parts of the film can be a little scary with close ups of some of the characters such as the strange man on top of the train looking really lifelike but other than that its a superb childrens film that has snowy scenes, Christmas trees, elves, reindeer, toys and most importantly Santa himself. With a beautiful song " Believe " that won many awards the following year and was sung by children in the cast this film really is a tear jerker!
A Christmas Carol (2009)
This animated 2009 edition of the famous Victorian story is superb especially as it was released in a 3D format that added a lot of atmosphere to the salutory tale. Written by Charles Dickens the greatest Victorian writer of fiction (in our opinion) the story centres around Ebenezer Scrooge a miserly money lender who holds a lot of animosity for the festive season and those who wish to celebrate it. As an employer he is cruel and unyeilding, while as an uncle or friend he is even worse.
Scrooge is visited by his deceased colleague Marley who warns him that if he does not mend his ways he will end up travelling eternity chained and bound by all the bad deeds he has done during his lifetime. Marley tells Scrooge that three ghosts, past, present and future will visit him and he must heed what they say to avoid his doom! The ghosts indeed take Scrooge on a trip of reality in order to bring home to him that how he lives his life is unaceptable so bringing Scrooge to his senses.
The film is wonderful, has plenty of special effects with Jim Carrey depicting a superb Scrooge as well as all three ghosts that are equally individual and special performances. As with most of Carrey's performances there is a comedic element, that he is very good at, such as when he dances round the bedroom when he realises he has not missed Christmas and has time to redeem himself. This said many of the scenes in the film are quite scary especially for kids, with many of the ghostly apparitions performing slightly violent if not a little unusual acts.
The film is accurately rated a PG, while parents need to judge for themselves whether their child can cope with some of the more frightening elements of this film. A Christmas Carol 2009 is an amazing Christmas movie that is enjoyable to watch plus really pushes the Christmas message that is as relevant today as it was in Dickens time.
Who Wins the Prize?
We really rate both these great Christmas films which are worthy of accolades in their own particular ways. If we are judging the films on likeablity especially from a childs point of view then The Polar Express wins hands down. It is a magical film that tells an even more magical story with the fact that all the main characters in this piece are children increasing its popularity for little ones. A child can put him or herself in the shoes of the participants so imagining what it would be like to travel on a magical train to The North Pole.
The Polar Express has all the hallmarks of a sentimental tearjerker and one of the best christmas animated classics that parents and kids alike would love to watch at Christmas time. The message is more clear too as it is placed on a level children can take in. A Christmas Carol on the other hand, although very well done, with great 3D effects, is a more grown up film depicting a well told story that has been redone time and again. Even as adults we feel that The Polar Express has more of an escapist theme whereby adults can recapture their childhood as the film stirs up so many Christmas elements bringing that warm Christmas feeling all round.
A Christmas Carol is set in a time unknown to children who will find it difficult to identify with the characters as they are from a bygone age for small children. We would not say don't take your kids to see a Christmas Carol as it does have its place but if parents wish to choose one or the other The Polar Express wins for us every time.