Polar Express

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Released 2004

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8.1
out of 10
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12 votes
3

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Movie Summary

Director:
Robert Zemeckis
Released:
2004
Rating:
G
The Polar Express is a 2004 film based on the children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, written, directed, and produced by Robert Zemeckis and made with computer animation. The story is set on Christmas Eve, when a boy is swept up by Santa Claus along with other children to board a magical train ride headed for the North Pole. The characters in the film were animated using “live action” performance captures, which uses real actors movements to apply to animated characters. It featured the voices of Tom Hanks, Daryl Sabara, Nona Gaye, Jimmy Bennett, and Eddie Deezen. The train used is modeled after a Lima locomotive, a train that can climb 80 degree hills, descending vertical grades, and riding over thin ice without breaking through. In addition to a 35mm theatrical release, a 3D version was released for IMAX using the 3D digital models that were used for the 35 mm version. The 3D version met more success and was released along with the 2D version on DVD and Blu-ray.moreless

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Metacritic Score

SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Almost timeless.

    8.0
    Ill explain what I mean later, but let's talk about the story first; the film is about a group of kids who take a ride on a magic train that takes them to the North Pole to see Santa before he takes off on Christmas Eve. The film focuses on our lead, who starts to question the existence of Santa Claus now that he's not as old as his younger sister and not as thrilled about Christmas. Let's get the good out of the way first, the animation is great. The motion capture used in this film is astounding and the backgrounds almost look real; the best parts of the movie are the train sequences, each one better then the last. Tom Hanks is just awesome in the movie, playing 5 roles in the span of 90 minutes and he nails all of them; he plays our lead's father, the conductor, the ghost hobo, the narrator and Santa himself (and unlike Tim Allen, I actually buy Banks as Santa). The songs are also good, with Josh Groban's Believe played at the end credits being the best of them all; I also got to give props to Michael Jeter as the engineer and his assistant as this was his last role before he passed away the year before this movie came out. These two are the funniest out of the entire cast; if the movie was about them, that would've been amazing. So why isn't it a timeless classic if there's so much to like about it? Step 1: It's the story of Santa again and Step 2: None of the characters have names (except for Billy and Sarah of course). Even though this movie is wonderfully executed, it still lies to kids with its moral that if you don't believe in Santa you won't hear sleigh bells ring. Uhhh, how does that effect kids in the long run? Maybe if this story opened with a book being opened, that way the kids would acknowledge that this is a story and not be fooled again. Also, it baffles me why the leads weren't given names; it bothered me as a kid, and it bothers me now. Why are Billy and Sarah the only characters with names? You can make the argument that the movie was paying homage to the book it was based on by not given the main character a name; and while films have done this before, it's usually reserved for one character Fight Club) or otherwise, they're given nicknames . Rango). Here, the characters are anonymous for no reason; they maybe relatable and likable, but with out a proper name to address them by, they're anything but memorable. Overall, this is just a good movie; I recommend this to children of all ages, just be sure you inform them a head of time that this is a work of fiction and Santa's not real.moreless
  • Zemeckis?

    4.5
    This movie had an ok story but terrible execution. The graphics/dialog and pacing were poor.
  • On Christmas Eve night, a young boy who is beginning to doubt that Santa Claus exists, takes an unforgettable train ride.

    6.5
    When "The Polar Express" was first released back in 2004 it was considered a landmark achievement mainly because it is the first movie to use the new technique known as performance capture animation. One consenus made by critics is that unrealistic (even scary) appearance of the human characters in the film. I agree that the human characters do look a bit strange, but despite that, "The Polar Express" has in my opinion stood the test of time. It does have a unique story that's for sure. As much of a stretch as it is, it manages to just work. I do have some problems in that the number of cars on the train changes numerous time during its run to the North Pole and the fact that the train can run on a tight spiral track without derailing. But being that it could be in the contents of a dream helps it get by. The sequence at the North Pole is quite entertaining and leads the movie to a satisfying conclusion. "The Polar Express" is a flawed movie for sure, but it still delivers some good Christmas entertainment.moreless

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Themes

christmas, Family Dramas, childlike sense of wonder, Tweens, visually striking