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The Polar Express (2004)

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On Christmas Eve, a young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas.

Director:

Robert Zemeckis

Writers:

Chris Van Allsburg (book), Robert Zemeckis (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1,172 ( 848)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Hanks ... Hero Boy / Father / Conductor / Hobo / Scrooge / Santa Claus
Leslie Zemeckis ... Sister Sarah / Mother
Eddie Deezen ... Know-It-All
Nona Gaye ... Hero Girl (voice)
Peter Scolari ... Billy - Lonely Boy
Brendan King Brendan King ... Pastry Chef
Andy Pellick Andy Pellick ... Pastry Chef
Josh Eli Josh Eli ... Waiter
Mark Mendonca Mark Mendonca ... Waiter
Rolondas Hendricks Rolondas Hendricks ... Waiter (as Rolandas Hendricks)
Mark Goodman Mark Goodman ... Waiter
Jon Scott Jon Scott ... Waiter
Gregory Gast ... Waiter
Sean Scott Sean Scott ... Waiter
Gordon Hart ... Waiter
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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 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:

All Aboard In IMAX 3D this holiday See more »


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 November 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience See more »

Filming Locations:

Arctic Ocean See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$165,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,323,463, 14 November 2004

Gross USA:

$187,224,490

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$313,500,433
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is listed in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the "first all-digital capture" film, where all acted parts were done in digital capture. See more »

Goofs

The controls, brakes, and other machinery on the train are set up in ways that don't make sense, but that's because it's pure fantasy. 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 »

Alternate Versions

On some ABC Family/Freeform airings, the first hobo scene was cut entirely. That results in Hero Boy finding the light from beyond that abruptly disappears for his reaction. The scene where the Conductor explains the first gift of Christmas was cut as well, skipping to the scene where the elves appear. See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

O Christmas Tree
(uncredited)
Traditional tune, lyrics by Ernst Anschütz
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Enchantment, thrills, spectacle...looks great on DVD...
22 November 2004 | by DoylenfSee 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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