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, Rovi
Smokey and Steamer song not seen in theaters
You Look Familiar: The many Polar faces of Tom Hanks
A Genuine Ticket to Ride: 5 featurettes
True Inspirations: Profiling author Chris Van Allsburg
Believe: Josh Groban performance and behind the scenes
Flurry of Effects: 5 motion-capture sessions
Snwo Angels: Moviemakers' Christmas memories
Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Michael Jeter, Michael Jeter, Nona Gaye, Peter Scolari, Charles Fleischer, Steven Tyler, Steven Tyler, Leslie Zemeckis, Leslie Zemeckis, Daryl Sabara, André Sogliuzzo, André Sogliuzzo, Jimmy Bennett, Isabella Peregrina
Gary Goetzman, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis, William Teitler, Michelle Murdocca, Chris Juen
Excellent For Children, Children in Peril
Sound : DHMA/DD5.1
Language : Eng/Fre/Spa
Subtitles : Fre/Spa
Screen : COLOR/WSE/3D
Dar : 2.40:1
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. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi
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