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Director Robert Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump) once again harnesses a new technology to an engaging fable in this digitally animated adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's holiday tale. The boy hero, who doubts the existence of Santa Claus, and the mystical train conductor, who ushers him to the north pole, are among five characters played by Tom Hanks; the movie's motion-capture technology employs hundreds of sensors to register his every physical nuance so computer animators can radically reshape his form. The story offers lessons in faith and self-esteem; the darker passages of the child's journey are countered by shimmering, cascading beacons of light; and fine period detail (Roy Rogers bedroom slippers, carols by Frank, Bing, and Perry) adds to the nostalgic glow. G, 105 min.

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