Movie: The Polar Express (2004)

By 2007, Robert Zemeckis had mastered the art of stop-motion animation, and that year's impressive Beowulf is visual proof, particularly Angelina Jolie's lifelike (and naked) interpretation of Grendel's mother. The same goes with 2009's equally commendable A Christmas Carol, which convincingly turns Jim Carrey into Ebenezer Scrooge.

But 2004's The Polar Express? Eight years removed from its initial release, Zemeckis' valiant attempt to bring author Chris Van Allsburg's popular children's book to life can now be viewed as a practice run. Not yet fully proficient with stop-motion technology, Zemeckis inadvertently made a nightmarishly creepy version, due in no small part to Tom Hanks' unsettling, zombie-like conductor.

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