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The Polar Express
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Journey Beyond Your Imagination
The Polar Express is an enchanting holiday tale of a young boy who doubts that Santa Claus truly exists. On one special Christmas Eve, as the boy skeptically waits for the sound of sleigh bells, a magical train appears outside his home and the conductor invites him aboard. What lies ahead is an extraordinary adventure of self-discovery through which the young boy learns that for those who believe, the wonders of life never fade. This beautifully made film, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, will become a holiday tradition your family will enjoy for generations.
This film was listed in the 2006 Guinness Book of World Records as the first all-digital capture film.
Tom Hanks does the voice work for six roles in the film: Hero Boy, Hero Boy’s father, the conductor, the hobo, Scrooge and Santa Claus.
Lonely Boy is the only child character in the movie with an actual name (Billy).
The address (11344 Edbrooke) mentioned by the conductor early in the film is the real address for director Robert Zemeckis’ childhood home.
The Polar Express was the first feature-length film to be released simultaneously in 35mm and IMAX 3D formats.
An Instant Christmas Movie Classic
- Co-written and directed by Robert Zemeckis
- Starring and co-produced by Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks
- A visually stunning achievement in motion-capture animation
- Bonus material includes deleted scenes, commentaries and more
- Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Meet the Characters
Hero Boy (voice by Tom Hanks)
Doubting that Santa really exists, Hero Boy hops on a magical train where he learns about friendship, bravery and the true meaning of Christmas.
Hero Girl (voice by Nona Gaye)
Sweet and gentle, Hero Girl is the first to befriend Lonely Boy. When she loses her ticket, the conductor threatens to put her off the train.
Lonely Boy, Billy (voice by Peter Scolari)
Billy is a sad child who keeps to himself during the trip. He thinks Christmas doesn’t work for him, because his parents are poor and can’t afford presents.
Train Conductor (voice by Tom Hanks)
As supervisor of the trip to the North Pole, the conductor invites the children aboard the train and directs their activities.
The Polar Express is the story of a young boy who on Christmas Eve boards a powerful magical train headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus's home. What unfolds is a journey of self-discovery, which shows the boy that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. This beloved Christmas movie on DVD was directed by Robert Zemeckis and features the voice of Tom Hanks in many of the lead roles.
Destined to become a holiday perennial, The Polar Express also heralded a brave new world of all-digital filmmaking. Critics and audiences were divided between those who hailed it as an instant classic that captures the visual splendor and evocative innocence of Chris Van Allsburg's popular children's book, and those who felt that the innovative use of "performance capture"--to accurately translate live performances into all-digital characters--was an eerie and not-quite-lifelike distraction from the story's epic-scale North Pole adventure. In any case it's a benign, kind-hearted celebration of the yuletide spirit, especially for kids who have almost grown out of their need to believe in Santa Claus. Tom Hanks is the nominal "star" who performs five different computer-generated characters, but it's the visuals that steal this show, as director Robert Zemeckis indulges his tireless pursuit of technological innovation. No matter how you respond to the many wonders on display, it's clear that The Polar Express represents a significant milestone in the digital revolution of cinema. If it also fills you with the joy of Christmas (in spite of its Nuremberg-like rally of frantic elves), so much the better. --Jeff Shannon
The World of The Polar Express
The book by Chris Van Allsburg
The Magic Journey (Polar Express the Movie) (book)
Stills from Polar Express (click for larger image)
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in blustery Christmas snow,
in beautiful, life-like imagery,
away away to the North Pole,
with all the excited children on Christmas Eve,
complete with Hot Chocolate.
It pains me to sit here knowing what I am about to write.
Warner Bros. was extremely gracious to send me a handful
of screeners to review knowing that I would be promoting
the good word of 3D on this forum. However, when there
seems to be a problem with their initial batch of Blu-ray
releases I can't morally sit here and praise them to the
Their Imax release of Under The Sea looks terrific.
However, their Imax release of Space Station 3D is
lacking 3D in the first 3 minutes. Now, The Polar Express
is exhibiting its own set of problems. I sort of wonder
if anyone is doing some quality control here.
I'll get into all this in a moment....
I had to chuckle when I decided I was going to review
this title. It took me back a few years to our last Home
Theater Forum meet. The studio sent us an advance copy
of their initial 3D DVD release of The Polar Express and we
were showing it off in our demo room at the hotel. Here
we were, a ragtag group of enthusiasts with cardboard
glasses on our faces admiring the cheesy 3D.
Boy, we have come a long way in a few short years.
Potentially, The Polar Express could have been a
flagship animated feature release for the studio on
the 3D format. Originally filmed for Imax with
motion capture technology, The Polar Express
translates beautifully to Blu-ray. This was my
very first time watching the movie ever and I
was completely mesmerized by the film's charming
story and utterly stunning, realistic animation.
Transfer quality is as good as it gets. I love
the film's warm, natural color palette consisting
primarily of blue and gold. Everything looks
The quality of the 3D separation is quite good
and very effective. I have three favorite scenes
where I found the 3D effect to be most effective.
The first involves a floating train ticket. Then
there's an exciting train descent into Glacier Gulch.
Finally, the entire Christmas Town square sequence
looks outstanding with all its brightly lit colors and
There really aren't any "In Yo' Face" 3D moments.
Most of the material stays within the confines of
the screen with the exception of some minor screen
protruding from the fender of the train or the cap
of the train's hobo.
So here we have this immaculate, gorgeous holiday
eye-fest that would have looked perfect on 3D if not
for the fact that it is marred with ghosting problems.
It doesn't take long to notice the problem. The first
scene where the young boy is lying in bed you see
double imaging within his face. When this same boy
steps onto the Polar Express, takes his seat and meets
the black girl, you can see double imaging going on
within her facial features. Some behind-the-head shots
reveal ghosting in the ears and along the hairline.
Watch the scene where the kids are being pulled up
inside Santa's sack and see how the ropes are
double-imaged. In fact, there are moments that
I actually experienced eye strain from the amount
of ghosting and occasional blurriness.
The DTS-HD audio lovingly conveys Alan Silvestri's
score which is mostly prominent in the front channels.
This is a very bass-heavy audio track. The oncoming
sound of The Polar Express literally shook my floor.
Like all of Warner's new 3D releases, The Polar
Express arrives in beautiful lenticular packaging.
Ultimately, I am disappointed. This is such a beautiful
film and as much as the 3D enhanced my initial experience
with it, the ghosting issues became a big distraction.
I am sitting here hoping that someone can prove me
wrong on all the ghosting problems I see with this title.
The last thing I want to do is slam the studio for a title
like this. However, up until now I have been seeing some
great 3D content with none of these problems. I even
switched out my glasses for another pair just in case it
was a hardware issue.
I pretty much purchased this movie just to add another 3D title to my movie collection. So needless to say I had it for quite a while before ever viewing it. However after viewing this movie, We wish we had watched it sooner! Our entire family found the movie very well done. The story line was whimsical and at times a real treat. I would consider this to be a great movie for the entire family, including the very young ones. Also, this movie would be enjoyable any time of the year!
The 3D aspect was done very well. I have seen better but this by no means was poor. There where a few times when the 3D was a little underwhelming and I may have noticed a slight ghosting here and there but all in all a pretty decent 3D rendering is what you can expect. Please keep on mind that not all 3D Televisions are made the same and some 3D TV's just aren't very good at displaying 3D. Luckily we have a good 3D TV that shows a great 3D image. So when a 3D movie is played on our television, it is a very special treat as we can expect it to play just about as good as most any theatre can provide us. I have a vast 3D collection and have viewed most of them, so you can trust my advice when I say that this 3D movie is one of the better ones available.
I will sum this review up with this advice. If you are at all on the fence about whether you should buy this movie or not, I would suggest you do, and enjoy it.
I know we sure did!
Started watching this movie the year it was made and my first granddaughter was born. A few years later, she started watching with me.
Ever since, it's been one of the 4-5 Christmas movies we MUST watch every year.
Just got a new copy on Blu-Ray, and it's lovely (holds up even 12 years later).
Like others have said, you need to watch it all to take in the messages and appreciate it.
It's not rude, crude, or otherwise shocking in any fashion - just good fun and a positive message without being at all preachy.
Some movies stand the test of time - Tom Hanks no doubt has a lot to do with the charms of this movie and I hope one day my granddaughter watches it with her kids.
Happy Holidays all - whether it Christmas or other celebration. Anyone can appreciate the messages and fun of this movie. Peace to all.