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Polar Express
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The Polar Express

4.3 54
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Cast: Tom Hanks, Michael Jeter, Nona Gaye


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Directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on children's author Chris Van Allsburg's modern holiday classic of the same name, The Polar Express revolves around Billy (Hayden McFarland), who longs to believe in Santa Claus but finds it quite difficult to do so, what with his family's dogged insistence that all of it, from the North Pole, to the elves, to the man


Directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on children's author Chris Van Allsburg's modern holiday classic of the same name, The Polar Express revolves around Billy (Hayden McFarland), who longs to believe in Santa Claus but finds it quite difficult to do so, what with his family's dogged insistence that all of it, from the North Pole, to the elves, to the man himself, is all just a myth. This all changes, however, on Christmas Eve, when a mysterious train visits Billy in the middle of the night, promising to take him and a group of other lucky children to the North Pole for a visit with Santa. The train's conductor (Tom Hanks) along with the other passengers help turn Billy's crisis in faith into a journey of self-discovery. A long-time fan of Van Allsburg's book, Hanks also helped produce the film. ~ Tracie Cooper

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Donald Liebenson
The Polar Express was slow to pull out of the station in its theatrical run, but it gathered steam and continued to draw audiences throughout the 2004 holiday season, defying the typical pattern. It would be inaccurate to call it a “little engine that could,” though, as director Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of the Chris Van Allsburg book is pretty much a roaring locomotive thrill ride. Zemeckis, who pushed the visual effects envelope with such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Forrest Gump, employs a process called "performance capture," digitally translating the movements of human actors into hyper-realistic animation. What the film lacks in personality, it more than makes up for with breathtakingly beautiful snowscapes. However, it threatens to derail in the time-padding action sequences that would be more at home in a video game, as the Express careers up and down mountains and skids across a frozen lake en route to its rendezvous with St. Nick. Keeping the film on track is Tom Hanks, who provides the human host for several characters, including the young boy (voiced by Daryl Sabara), the conductor, and a mysterious hobo who inexplicably camps on top of the train. Further powering The Polar Express are a heart-melting, Oscar-nominated ballad ("Believe"), a rollicking showstopper complete with dancing waiters ("Hot Chocolate"), and the instantly recognizable Jerry Lewis tones of prolific voice-over artist Eddie Deezen as Know-It-All, who has a lot to learn when it comes to Santa Claus.
All Movie Guide - Karl Williams
Even if it didn't boast state-of-the-art motion-capture effects, the holiday adventure The Polar Express would be a notable film for the way it patiently compiled an impressive box-office haul the old-fashioned way: gradually over time, thanks to strong word of mouth. That's a stark contrast to the usual harbinger of a film's success: the ritual, vigorous looting of moviegoers' pockets in one or two weekends, quickly, before anyone realizes the film stinks. Its slow build was probably due to a marketing campaign failure -- a blitz of television commercials that made the film's animation seem stodgy, dull, and flat. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Director Robert Zemeckis and his effects wizards faithfully render the distinctive style of illustrator and writer Chris Van Allsburg, the creator of the original children's picture book upon which the film is based, with magically arresting results. If The Polar Express flags a bit in the middle, it's due to the strain of stretching a very short story into a feature-length running time, but that's the only flaw in what is otherwise an instant holiday classic. Tom Hanks delivers a skillful performance in multiple roles (especially as the flinty conductor), and kids are sure to be swept up in the literal roller-coaster ride that the movie becomes. Though it's a polar opposite (pun intended) in tone, it is exciting to note that, just six months later, Sin City (2005) from director Robert Rodriguez represents a second notable effort to adhere as closely as possible to the creator's artistic vision and style, a remarkable and hopeful development in an era of cookie-cutter, corporate product.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Smokey and Steamer song; You look familiar: the many polar faces of Tom Hanks; A genuine ticket to ride documentary gallery: 5 featurettes; True inspirations: an author's adventure: profiling Chris Van Allsburg; Believe: Josh Groban performs at the Greek Theatre; Behind the scenes of Believe: bringing a hit song to magical life in the recording studio; Flurry of effects gallery: 5 motion-capture sessions; Meet the show angels: the moviemakers' Christmas memories; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tom Hanks Hero Boy/Father/Conductor/Hobo/Scrooge/Santa
Michael Jeter Smokey,Steamer
Nona Gaye Hero Girl
Peter Scolari Lonely Boy
Eddie Deezen Know-it-All
Charles Fleischer Elf General
Steven Tyler Elf Lieutenant,Elf Singer
Leslie Zemeckis Sister Sarah / Mother
Daryl Sabara Hero Boy
André Sogliuzzo Smokey,Steamer
Jimmy Bennett Lonely Boy
Isabella Peregrina Sister Sarah
Chris Coppola Toothless Boy,Elf
Julene Renee Elf
Ed Gale Elf
Josh Hutcherson Hero Boy
Hayden McFarland Lonely Boy
Connor Matheus Toothless
Jimmy "Jax" Pinchak Know-it-All
Chantel Valdivieso Hero Girl
Brendan King Pastry Chef
Andy Pellick Pastry Chef
Josh Eli Waiter
Mark Mendonca Waiter
Rolandas Hendricks Waiter
Mark Goodman Waiter
Jon Scott Waiter
Gregory Gast Waiter
Sean Scott Waiter
Gordon Hart Waiter
Phil Fondacaro Elf
Debbie Lee Carrington Elf
Mark Povinelli Elf
Dante Pastula Little Boy
Eric Newton Acrobatic Elf
Aidan O'Shea Acrobatic Elf
Aaron Hendry Acrobatic Elf
Kevin C. Carr Acrobatic Elf
Bee Jay Joyer Acrobatic Elf
Jena Carpenter Acrobatic Elf
Karine Mauffrey Acrobatic Elf
Beth Carpenter Acrobatic Elf
Bill Forchion Acrobatic Elf
Devin Henderson Acrobatic Elf
Sagiv Ben-Binyamin Acrobatic Elf
Ashly Holloway Sister Sarah
Evan Sabara Young Boy

Technical Credits
Robert Zemeckis Director,Producer,Screenwriter
James Andrykowski Editor
Glen Ballard Score Composer,Songwriter
Jeffrey Beck Set Decoration/Design
Jackson Bishop Set Decoration/Design
Scott Boland Casting
Steven J. Boyd Co-producer
William Broyles Screenwriter
Don Burgess Cinematographer
Victoria Burrows Casting
Deborah Carlson Animator
John Carrafa Choreography
Rick Carter Production Designer
Leo Corey Castellano Makeup
Mark Chadwick Stunts
Todd Cherniawsky Set Decoration/Design
Doug Chiang Production Designer
Donna Cicatelli Makeup
Dale Condit Makeup
Matthew Cordner Animator
Matt Davies Animator
David R. Davies Animator
Brian Davis Animator
Debbie Denise Associate Producer
R. Orlando Duenas Editor
Tim Eaton Editor
Jeff Evans Stunts
Tony Fanning Art Director
Dane Farwell Stunts
Andy Gauvreau Animator
Gary Goetzman Producer
Shane Habberstad Stunts
Tom Hanks Executive Producer
James Hegedus Art Director
Kseniya Hoppe Set Decoration/Design
Marc Horsfield Animator
Joanna Johnston Costumes/Costume Designer
Chris Juen Producer
Keith Kellogg Animator
Dan Kessler Animator
Martin A. Kline Art Director
Kenneth A. Larson Set Decoration/Design
Hae Jeon Lee Animator
Alicia MacCarone Art Director
Stephen Marshall Animator
Cathy T. Marshall Set Decoration/Design
Masako Masuda Set Decoration/Design
John Clark Matthews Animator
Aaron McComas Animator
Kenn McDonald Animator
Josh McLaglen Associate Producer,Asst. Director
Joel Mitchell Special Effects
Michelle Murdocca Producer
Bill Myer Makeup
Norman Newberry Art Director
Bob Norin Makeup
Patrick B. O'Brien Camera Operator
Jeremiah O'Driscoll Editor
Steven Ong Animator
John Patton Animator
Ralph Peterson Special Effects
Robert Presley Cinematographer
Jack Rapke Executive Producer
Stephen M. Rickert Editor
Matthew Rugetti Stunts
Allen Ruilova Animator
Cherie Rye Animator
Jeff Schu Animator
Vincent Serritella Animator
Peter Shinners Animator
Lisa Shriver Choreography
Alan Silvestri Score Composer,Songwriter
Steve Starkey Producer
Chad Stewart Animator
Smokey Stover Set Decoration/Design
Dan Striepeke Makeup
George Suhayda Art Director
William Teitler Producer
Peter Toby Tobyansen Associate Producer
Chris Van Allsburg Executive Producer
Angie Wells Makeup
Karen Westerfield Makeup
Nakoma Whobrey Makeup
Cinzia Zanetti Makeup


Customer Reviews

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The Polar Express 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
M3ow More than 1 year ago
@ Anonymous posted Oct 1, 2010: I think you missed the point. The casting of Tom Hanks in all the roles is on purpose. It leads you to wonder if all the characters are the same person, each testing the child's beliefs in a different way and eventually leading him to the same conclusion.  It's really brilliant. This movie is amazing especially for children struggling with the idea of Santa and adults forgetting the spirit of Christmas. It renews a spark in your heart.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My son, who first saw this movie in the theatre when 3, was terrified. We left in the middle of it because his heart was pounding and he was shaking. While this is a beautiful story with a wonderful message, do not let the prior review compel you to believe this movie is for children of all ages. I expect my son will be better prepared for the scary sections when he is 6 or 7.
Anonymous 12 months ago
RunningShoeGirl More than 1 year ago
This is one of my very favorite Christmas movies. It's just not even the holiday season to me without seeing it. I don't have children so I can't weigh in on what age it's appropriate for, but I can tell you as an adult, I love it. The message is fabulous and the animation is so so beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The meaning of the movie is so well told and seamless; would make a great family discussion. It makes me want to believe in Santa again and opens my eyes to angels everywhere. If deciding between the 2D and 3D versions, absolutely go for the 3D. It's the best 3D I've ever seen, including anything I have seen in theaters.
MameWI More than 1 year ago
Wonderful - I have now watched it three times, each time picking up something I previously missed .. this should be viewed by those 1 to 100 plus! You need to see it to understand my excitement over this movie......you would not be disappointed. Plus it is not just for Christmas - I would watch this anytime, for the deep meaning it holds for daily life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is one of the best children movies ever. The animation was wonderful so life like, and the plot made you want to believe in Santa if you don't already or make you believe again. I recommend this movie for all children of ALL ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though this movie isn't as good as "Elf" or "The Santa Clause", this is still a very good family movie. However, there are quite a few scenes that would scare kids under the age of seven... so I will just give you a word of caution on that part. However, this is a very good classic, and it deserves to be a part of your DVD library. The only part I don't like about this movie is this... why doesn't any of the kids have names? The main character is cast as "Hero Boy", the sweet girl is credited as "Hero Girl", the obnoxious boy is credited as "Know-It-All Kid", etc. I don't know, it's bothered me for quite some time now. I also don't understand why Tom Hanks played all those roles. He played the conductor, Santa Clause, the hobo, etc. I wish the film-makers gave him at least two roles... he was very funny in the movie, but it would have been better if they just gave him one role. Anyway, the animation is very... stunning! Wow.. it's so awesome! While I was sitting in the theater, quite a few times (hmmm... let's say... 25?) where I was thinking, "Wow! Is this real?" Because that's EXACTLY what it looked like... it looked sooooooooooo real!!! It was really amazing, they did an excellent job with the animation. Anyway, you should get this movie and add it to your DVD library. It's certainly a good Christmas treat for your family!
kefitsa79 More than 1 year ago
The Polar Express is by far my most favorite Christmas movie. I love the characters, the graphics, the storyline, etc. Because of this movie, my 3 yr old really, truely believes in Santa Claus. We've seen it during Christmas and off-season.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Josh Hutcherson is amazing as the hero boy in this film, as always!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie has totally brought out the christmas spirit in me. A must see!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had seen this at the theater and really enjoyed it. The Blu-ray gives the clarity necessary to bring this movie to life on a small screen and the 3-D or not 3-D makes it a real winner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once my favorite book.. now my favorite movie... amazing movie for all ages :) Makes you believe in the spirit of Christmas all over again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband and I rented the DVD and previewed it before showing it to my 3 year old son who loves trains. I am very glad that we did that because it was way too scary to be shown to him. There are several scenes where the children are walking on top of a snow covered train and almost fall off. Another scene has the train losing control on a lake of ice and then the ice starts to crack. There is also a mystery ghost man who "lives" on top of the moving train. I know that all children are different, but I can't imagine letting my son see this movie until he is much older. I suggest that you preview this movie before you give it to the little ones in your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I remember hearing some not so good reviews of this movie when it came out last year. But I thought that it looked very interesting. I am really thinking about buying this movie because it was really a lot of fun and a few times I was on the edge of my seat! It was strange to see the animation this way. It's a good commentary on how as we grow older we lose our ability to believe, have fun and just play.
Clarice_B_Spiderwick_28 More than 1 year ago
Like I wrote in my review on iTunes, I thought this was another one of those poorly-made kid movies about Christmas. But after watching it in school three years ago, I finally realized what a wonderful, sweet movie this really is. It helped me see that I could still have the Christmas Spirit even after I grew up. And there's something in it for everyone, adults and children alike. All I can say is...this is an awesome movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you watch one movie this year make it The Polar Express. My sons both loved loved it, especially my 4 yr old. I love the soundtrack too. A beautiful message about faith.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is so cool, there were moments when I forgot I was watching a CGI cartoon. The story is great, there's action, drama, comedy. I love the Polar Express.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My husband and I went with this movie with our then 2 year old son. I was a little sceptical about this as I am not one to make a big deal about Santa Clause. Well what I walked out of the theater with was more than I could muster. The movie isn't about SC, but about faith. Having faith in something you may not be able to see. (at least right away) It was very moving and had me in tears by the end. Now as for my son he was completely fascinated. He has had a love for Trains since he was 9 months old. And for a 2 year old to sit through an entire movie and move only once to sit on my lap due to a semi-scarry part in the movie. (it looked like the train might crash..very emotional for a child) Anyway... My husband and I are going to be purchasing this for our now 3 son and give it to him at Christmas. This is a WONDERFUL film and recommend it to anyone and everyone. Even if you don't believe in SC. It is a wonderful film.
BELKYS More than 1 year ago
Heavy_Metal_Sushi More than 1 year ago
Okay, okay...so I am a bit late in seeing this, but yes...I just finally saw this movie shortly before writing this review. Better late than never though I guess. But yeah, this is an excellent movie. I definitely want to buy this now. Why I hadn't bothered to see this any sooner, I have no idea, but now that I have, I totally recommend it to anyone else who hasn't. It's a lot of fun! Listed below are a few of many other great Chistmas titles to check out also.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One word describes it: Awesome! My wife and I took our nieces to the Imax and they loved it. This is after they had already seen it in a regular move theatre. It is a great movie for toddlers also, due to the various colors and movements.