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The Polar Express (2004)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 93,628 users   Metascore: 61/100
Reviews: 423 user | 181 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

On Christmas Eve, a doubting boy boards a magical train that's headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus' home.

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(book), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 16 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Brendan King ...
Andy Pellick ...
Josh Eli ...
Mark Mendonca ...
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Mark Goodman ...
Jon Scott ...
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Sean Scott ...
Gordon Hart ...
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Storyline

This is the story of a young hero boy on Christmas Eve who boards on a powerful magical train that's headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus's home. What unfolds is an an adventure which follows a doubting boy, who takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole; during this ride, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery which shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Don't miss the holiday film of the season. See more »


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 November 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience  »

Box Office

Budget:

$165,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$28,995 (Hong Kong) (17 December 2004)

Gross:

$665,426 (USA) (28 December 2012)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| | |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The appearance of the Ebenezer Scrooge marionette that frightens Hero Boy is the basis for the Ebenezer Scrooge that appears in Robert Zemeckis's next Christmas-themed film, A Christmas Carol (2009). See more »

Goofs

When the silver bell flies off of the harness and bounces on the ground, the leather straps attached to the bell do NOT twist and tangle in the normal manner. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hero Boy: On Christmas Eve many years ago I laid quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets, I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for a sound I was afraid I'd never hear: the sound of Santa's sleigh bells.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the very end, it reads "In Dedication to Michael Jeter" with a picture. See more »

Connections

Featured in Nostalgia Critic: The Cat in the Hat (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas
Written by Meredith Willson
Performed by Perry Como
Courtesy of The RCA Records Label
Under License from BMG Film & TV Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Enchantment, thrills, spectacle...looks great on DVD...
22 November 2004 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

On the one hand there are many delightful moments in THE POLAR EXPRESS, not the least of which is the entire look of the film--appealing in a way that great illustrations of children's books always are to young and old. Tom Hanks and the others enter into the spirit of the whole thing with gusto--and all the performances are right on target.

On the other hand, much of the film is an excuse to dazzle with roller-coaster-like rides on the express train that roars across various landscapes making wild leaps and turns, all the while thrilling us with a sense of adventure and excitement. For the very young, the ride might be a scary one, especially when the daring young hero rides atop the train during a blustery snowstorm.

Things barely quiet down once the destination is reached at the North Pole. Still there are dangers lurking and the thrills continue with some amazing photographic tricks that can only be done in this new process of computer generated animation.

And to add a cozier touch to the proceedings, certain famous Christmas songs are interjected at intervals to give the North Pole--and the film--a warmer glow.

All in all, quite an imaginative and innovative achievement--impressive enough to assure its place among future Christmas favorites with unlimited appeal for the young in heart. The message of Christmas is lightly hinted at but when Tom Hanks as the train conductor tells the little boy, "The true meaning of Christmas is in your heart," we can be assured that children everywhere will definitely "get it".

Visually, it's a stunner. I didn't see it on the IMAX screen where I imagine it really knocks your socks off, but at a multiplex where picture and sound were impressive enough to convey just how advanced special effects technology has become. There is much artistry involved here, especially when the night scenes of the train's fast-moving travel through a blustery snowstorm capture some rich winter landscapes, including a frozen lake that threatens to demolish train and passengers before danger has passed. The camera-work is continually fascinating as is the artwork involved.

A pity there couldn't have been more of a story in the children's book which is the source--but the artistic visuals are the main source of entertainment here and they are superb. The busy background score by Alan Silvestri is reminiscent of works by John Williams. Although none of the sprightly song tunes are particularly memorable, there is a wistful quality to one of the new Christmas ballads sung by the children.

P.S. - I have just watched it on DVD, a year after writing the above review--and it's definitely a keeper--just as wonderful as you could want, an amazing technological achievement that should delight all ages who can still hear that bell! Tom Hanks, as the conductor, is my favorite character--brilliant job.


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