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Polar Express (2 DVDs)

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15 Reviews

Genre: Children's DVDs / Theatrical Release: 2004 / Director: Robert Zemeckis / Actors: Tom Hanks, Leslie Zemeckis ... / DVD released 14 November, 2005 at Warner Home Video / Features of the DVD: Box set, Dubbed, PAL, Special Edition, Widescreen

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      04.01.2009 20:08
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      Ok for the kids, but they may get bored

      I was another one of the many people who managed to miss this film the first time it was released. Actually, that's not strictly true (we had a copy sitting in a cupboard for a year that I'd managed to forget about!)

      Now at the best of times I find myself fairly easy to get into the Christmas spirit, but I found this film to be somewhat derivative and genuinely wasn't sure whether or not children would enjoy it that much.

      The basic plot revolves around the adventures of a young boy on Christmas eve as he undertakes a magical adventure to the North pole on a mysterious steam train, peopled with other children and a cast of offbeat characters. Friendships are made, strengths are uncovered and everybody learns a lesson about their personal strengths and the need to trust in the strengths and goodness of others.

      There are some wonderfully funny moments, some great physical comedy and top-quality animation that really sparkles (as Christmas should). But despite all this, I didn't really find myself in the Christmas spirit that much.

      The main character 'hero boy' was less than pleasant and didn't learn that much in what felt like a very long film. Tom hanks was frankly bizarre as a grouchy ticket collector and I couldn't see for the life of me why children were meant to relate to him as viewers. In addition to this, the film directors decided to throw a tramp into the mix (he spends most of the film on the roof of the train providing sage advice).

      I honestly tried watching it with the eyes of a child, but my adult brain couldn't filter out the fact that this film was a disappointment.

      Your kids may fall for it, but in my opinion you're better of picking up a tried and tested animated film for them during the holiday season. Just because it looks 'Christmassy' doesn't mean it's any good.

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        26.12.2008 19:19
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        Awesome movie!

        The Polar Express is animated adventure movie released in year 2004 in USA. This is based on novel, what is written by Chris Van Allsburg. This movie is really stunning and interesting, and because of that, this movie have won many awards. This is directed by famous producer and writer Robert Zemeckis. The movie is written by Robert Zemeckis and William Broyles Jr. It talks about the train, named Polar Express. It brings visitors to the North Pole.


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        INTRODUCTION:
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        I am big cartoon fan, and especially I like cartoon movies, what have certain story and what is interesting to watch. Anyway, first time I saw this movie few days ago, and I was hooked from this movie. Even commercial was really interesting, and so I managed to view it. In the commercial, there have said, this movie have won many Oscars, so It seemed pretty good movie. Anyway, movie started, but It didn't seem very interesting, but after, movie goed really interesting, and I had really big interest, what happens next and like that. Certainly, I am going to buy the DVD and watch it another time.


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        WHAT IS THIS MOVIE ABOUT?:
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        Hero Boy is hoping to belief in the true spirit of Christmas. In the christmas evening, he hears a weird noise coming from the kitchen, he ran to the kitchen, and he understood, this sound is made by his parents. So he went back to his bed, and after he hears a noise again, but this time he also sees a light coming from outside. So, he ran outside and saw the huge train, named Polar Express. He watched it, and he was really amazed. Anyway, he was invited to the train by the mysterious conductor to the journey to the North Pole. But he goed to the train for only one reason, he hoped to meet the Santa. On the train he met many children and during the travel to the North Pole, he participated in many adventures, and learned the lesson of belief as well.


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        CERTIFICATE OF CHARACTERS:
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        During this movie, we saw many characters, essentially children. Every character was very good in own fasion, and everyone had own good and bad sides. My own favorite actor from this movie was this mysterious conductor, who's voice is made by Tom Hanks.

        Hero Boy- Hero Boy was main character in this movie, and he was a boy, who was unsure of his belief in Santa Claus and Christmas. I can characterize he like that; he is young boy, he is very brave, and he don't scare do to anything hard and almost impossible things. Example in one scene, through his fault, one girl lost his ticket, and because of that train conductor wanted to throw this girl out of this train. But Hero Boy tried to save her, first he lost the ticket, but getting it back was really hard. After that he had to climb bottom of the train, and then he had to found the conductor together with the girl.

        Hero Girl- Hero Girl was one of the first train visitors. After Hero Boy came to the train, they became really good friends and the did everything together. We can describe her like that; like Hero Boy, also she is really brave and he was ready to do anything to save Hero Boy, at least It seemed like that to me. Anyway she is really brave and she didn't scare to do something scary, example in one scene Hero Boy, Hero Girl and one other boy named Billy had to go over some narrow pipe, and Hero Girl, was first one who didn't scare to do it.

        Billy- Billy was latest train visitor, he was really quiet, and moment after that, he came to the train, he went to the other wagon, where other kids were. So he went to the wagon, and just sat down and he didn't do anything, it seemed that he was sick and sad. But regardless his size, length and quietness, he was really brave. As I said he was really quiet, but soon, he became really good friends with Hero Boy and Hero Girl.

        Conductor- At the beginning of the movie, It seemed, that conductor is really evil, and also he talked very loud. And mostly because of that, he always bridled up with Hero Boy, for nothing. He wanted to be really finical, it came out then, when he tried to be really exact with train time-scheme. As other actors, also he was really brave, example in one scene he was together with Hero Boy, Hero Girl and Billy front side of the train outside, same time when train speed was about 200mph. Of course it was awesome scene.


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        HOW IT LOOKS:
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        Movie was just awesome, every scene was really great and really interesting. I just sat on the sofa, and all the time I just amazed, how good this movie is. Film story was so interesting, and I enjoyed every scene. This movie is animated so well. If we compare this movie with other similar animated movies, I can say, this is much better, because of the story and picture quality. Picture was really realistic, and looked out really cool. Example, when the train arrived to the North Pole, North Pole looked out so cool, all this houses and lighting's, It was so awesome and realistic. Also there was one scene, where train was in the water and almost it drowned. At this time, I didn't think about the movie or something like that, I was amazed how good and cool the picture is. It was so awesome, and I was really amazed during all the movie.


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        CONCLUSION:
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        In conclusion, this movie is one of the best movies, and I can say, this is real masterpiece. Everything is really well made. Characters and their voices suits perfectly, also It's really awesome, that Tom Hanks can do so many different voices. Movie Story was great, and I was excited during all the movie. I couldn't stop watching, because every scene was so interesting, and offered me a lot of interest. In conclusion, I recommend this movie to everyone.


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        IN ADDITION:
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        PRICE: £4.98 on Amazon

        RUNNING TIME: 100 Minutes

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          25.12.2008 07:04
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          The Polar Express

          Based on the children's story by Chris Van Allsburg, THE POLAR EXPRESS is a Christmas movie from 2004, directed by Robert Zemeckis.

          The film tells the story of a young boy who is just at the stage where he is beginning to doubt the existence of Santa Claus and whose belief in the 'magic' of Christmas is beginning to fade. He gets whisked away to the North Pole on the train known as the Polar Express (hence the title of the film) where his belief is reinvigorated.

          Made using performance capture technology, where the actors act whilst there movements are recorded by computer and then turned into semi-realistic animation, the film is a joy to look at. Although it was made 4 years ago, the effect still stands up and it is interesting to see how the technique which would later be used in films like BEOWULF looked back in '04.

          Tom Hanks plays many of the parts in the film, and he plays them well - although being so clearly based around his performances this would not be a fun film for people who don't like him.

          This isn't a film I'd want to watch at any other time of year, but for a bit of Christmas Eve 'fluff' this would take some beating.

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          06.12.2008 18:10

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          A great film that is a definate classic.

          This film is a Christmas classic that can be watched every year and it will never get boring.

          In the film, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, it follows a child who has lost belief in Santa. He travels on the Polar Express to the North Pole. Here, he meets Santa and travels on a great adventure.

          The story is very good and a great classic. It can be understood by everyone making it a great film for everyone. It is very entertaining with some great feel good moments and some laughs. It will put you in the sprit of Christmas. The cast does a great job and the plot twists will keep you entertained.

          The picture and sound quality is very good. The animation is fantasic, some of the best that I have seen with superb attention to detail.

          The DVD extras are very good and informative. The behind the scenes footage and commentaries are worth a watch.

          Overall, this is a great film to watch every year and it will never get boring. It will put you in the Christmas spirit and is very entertaining. The whole family will be able to enjoy the plot twists and fun story.

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          16.11.2008 16:14
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          A wonderful Christmas film for little kids and big kids - just make sure you believe!

          It's getting to that time of the year again when our thoughts are turning towards Christmas. With Christmas comes a host of seasonal films, the classics are shown year upon year, and despite The Polar Express being a relatively new film, I believe it to be a classic. This film will no doubt be shown many times over the Christmas periods of years to come.

          The Polar Express is an animated film using motion capture (in other words, the actors' physical performances were digitally captured with 3D motion capture technologies to get more realistic movements from the animated characters). The quality of the animated film is fantastic and you are drawn into the wonderful imagery as well as the story. The film was originally released at 3D Imax cinemas along side normal cinemas and I can only imagine how amazing it looked in 3D.

          Tom Hanks is the most notible member of the cast and plays not one, not two, but a whole host of characters including Hero Boy, The Conductor, Santa, Boy's Father and The Hobo. He does a fantastic job, with each character having an identifiably different voice, but I really thought Tom Hanks made the character of The Conductor his own.

          Other cast members include Michael Jeter (Smokey and Steamer), Peter Scolari (Lonely Boy), Nona Gaye (Hero Girl), Eddie Deezen (Know-It-All Boy) and Charles Fleischer (Elf General).

          The story begins with a little boy who can't sleep on Christmas Eve. He's too excited! He's listening for the magical sound of Santa's sleigh-bells, but at 5 minutes to midnight he hears something totally different... the thundering roar of a train! He rushes outside in his pajamas and slippers and is greeted by the train's conductor who asks if he's coming.

          "Where?" the boy enquires.

          "Why, to the North Pole, of course. This is the Polar Express!" The conductor replies.

          And with that an adventure begins aboard an extraordinary train!

          Many things happen aboard the Polar Express - some magical, some scary and some quite exciting! Will all the passengers make it to the North Pole? And what happens when they get to the North Pole?

          You'll have to watch it and see.

          I promise, this film will have hearts racing with excitement, scariness and magic, whether you're young or old!

          One thing is for sure though... You must believe!

          Do you believe? I do!

          I thought The Polar Express was a wonderful film to watch on a Christmas evening. I'm a big kid (especially when it comes to Christmas) so I was glued to the screen throughout. There was plenty going on at all times, so I imagine young children would be interested enough to sit though the whole 99 minutes of the film too. It's a fun, exciting and imaginative adventure that I could watch time and time again.

          ---------------------------------

          This 2-disc DVD edition includes:

          The theatrical trailer
          'You Look Familiar': Tom Hanks comments on his 5 unique roles
          'A Genuine Ticket To Ride': a focus on capturing performances, the music and the movie's creation
          'True Aspirations - An Author's Adventure': Chris Van Allsburg discusses his artistic background and how he conceived the idea for The Polar Express book
          Music video of Josh Groban performing 'Believe'
          Behind the scenes footage of 'Believe'
          'Meet The Snow Angles': cast and crew members share their favourite holiday memories
          'Polar Express Challenge' interactive game
          DVD-Rom features: Trailer, one level of the Polar Express video game.

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            12.11.2008 14:09
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            Puts you in the mood for xmas , for young & old alike

            I took my children to see this film when it first came out at the cinema. It was just a few days before xmas and I had been running round like a headless chicken - as most of us are.

            I didnt really know what to expect as it was an animated/CGI film with Tom Hanks narrating as a number of characters.

            The young boy in it has stopped "believing" in Father Christmas and is obviously quite down and a bit bitter.

            On Xmas Eve - he is in bed when he hears a train approaching right outside his house (The Polar Express) . Of course he goes outside in to the snow to investigate.

            He is invited to hop on board by the conductor (Hanks, to go to the North Pole. When he gets on he finds a number of other children on board who again - all no longer believe.

            There journey is full of hazzards and problems and the young lad tries to escape. He meets a "ghost" tramp (again narrated by Hanks) who offers him words of wisdom.

            They eventually make it to the North Pole to find the hundreds of elves preparing Santa's sleigh with toys etc and getting ready for Santa to give the "gift of xmas" before setting off on his travels.

            Of course some of the children want to know if they are getting presents and what they may be...so they go off on their own investigating. Of course this backfires and they end up on a long trip and eventually onto a shute down onto the large pile of presents on the sleigh.

            They are rescued by the elves and then there is the final ceremony where the man himself appears (Hanks). The reindeer are restless and ready to go and as they are jumping up and down one of the bells falls off the reigns. The boy picks it up and shakes it - but cannot hear anything.

            Santa then asks who he sould select to give the gift of xmas to and selects the boy.

            It ends up with the boy asking for the bell as a gift. If he received this - he would surely believe.

            The train goes back and drops all the children back at home. The boy wakes Xmas Day and wonders was it all a dream?? Until he finds a the bell wrapped up under the tree! He shakes it - and can hear the ring of the bell again! He believes again.

            It is quite funny at the end when the parents pick the bell up and shake it and hear nothing.......

            It certainly put me in the mood for Xmas and made me "believe" again in the spirit of Xmas.

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              02.11.2008 12:03
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              Must-see Christmas film for your collection

              Can I just start by saying that I LOVE this film! There is something in it for everyone regardless of age or gender and it really is a heartwarming tale with a lovely message.

              The Polar Express is set on Christmas Eve and tells the story of a young boy, who is starting to doubt Father Christmas' existance. Cue the Polar Express pulling up outside and taking him on a magical adventure to the North Pole, so that he can see the truth for himself. There is a lot of action and adventure on the way and it had me gripped throughout. I really did feel like I was on the journey too!

              The animation is wonderful and the viewer gets swept away into a magical winter wonderland - the colours and sounds are so vivid and vibrant that it'd be difficult not to get caught up in the story from the outset.

              In my opinion this is a modern classic, which should be part of every household's collection. It really gets you in the Christmassy mood and leaves you with a smile on your face.

              The perfect Christmas film!

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                23.09.2008 17:41
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                A FANTASTIC, HEARTWARMING CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE IN GREAT CGI ANIMATION!!

                Review of the Polar Express available at play.com for £4.49 for the 1 disc version or £9.99 for this 2 disc version.

                Stars the voice talents of: Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezen, Daryl Sabara, Brenden king, Peter Scolari.

                Director: Robert Zemickis ( other films by this director inc: back to the future trilogy, what lies beneath, forest gump, castaway)

                based on the book by: Chris Van Allsburg

                Screenplay: Robert Zemickis

                Runtime: 99mins

                Released: 2004

                ****************************************************

                Generally when Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks team up the outcome is very succesful, Forest Gump, Castaway and the Polar Express is no exception.

                What you get extra on the 2 disc version is an abundance of special features including: An interactive game, interview with Tom Hanks, an interview with Chris Van Allsburg
                the Author of the book, music video-Josh Groban ' i believe',and many more.


                I love to watch festive films as i love the festive season and always start watching them far too early with my kids.

                I never saw the Polar Express at the cinema but my mother bought it last christmas for my children to watch and they adored it.

                First of all i was very impressed with the CGI animation it is very smooth and fluid and very real. I love that Tom Hanks voices many of the characters, i think he voices 6 characters in all, i wasn't sure how it would sound, as Tom Hanks doing a CGI animation runs the risk of always sounding like Woody from the brilliant Toy Story franchise, but he pulled it off brilliantly. The use of colour is really well done and the scenery is great, the animation when the boy is on top of the train and the snow is blowing and swirling around is brilliant.

                The story centres around a young boy who is losing his faith in santa clause, and on christmas eve a magical train stops outside his house,slightly bewildered he wonders outside not sure if he is dreaming or not, out steps the conductor from the train and asks the boy if he is boarding , the boys is not sure if he dare get on or not, and takes a minute or 2 to make sense of what is happening, and as the train pulls off he makes his decision and runs to get on it.

                What happens next is a magical journey to the north pole, full of excitment, adventure, joy, tears. And the reason for the trip, to attend what i can only call a sending off ceremony for the big man himself, Santa, and to see who will receive the first gift of christmas and also to restore the childrens faith in him and the christmas spirit.

                There is a great scene where the train is out of control, and is speeding up and down the steep bits of track like a funfair roller coaster, it makes you feel like you are on the train like one of those simulators............Brilliant.

                The songs are very good aswell especially the upbeat song sung by the conductor and all the waiters on the train, my kids love to sing and dance to that bit.

                Chris Van Allsburg has to be commended for writing such a fantastic christmas story which is fast becoming a christmas classic. Zemeckis should also be commended for bringing it to the big screen in such a magical, heartwarming way.

                This film really does touch that christmas spirit in all of us(unless your a miserable scrooge), and excites the kids and makes us adults feel like we are 6 years old again, and reignite's that feeling of when we believed there was a santa clause, and confirms to us that there is one thing that is real and alive in all of us.........The Christmas Spirit!!

                A fantastic, heartwarming, christmas adventure !!

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                  12.08.2008 12:02
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                  a good movie, one to watch.

                  This was a very good movie, it startred Tom Hanks, and though this was animation, the train conductor did look alot like tom hanks. The story is animated and is the strangest animation i have ever seen, its very realistic and almost creepy, i know if i'd be 20 years younger this film may have scared me.

                  There was a particular scene where the children had got off the train and were exploring a village, there was strange music in the background and this whole scene seemed very creep and eirie to me. But this film was fast flowing, alot of action and a real christmas treat.

                  I wasnt too keen on the father christmas but I did enjoy this film, tom hanks played his role well, and his voice was perfect for this role. Overall a very different style of childrens animation, which was both different and compelling at the same time.

                  I would recommend this, but if you have a particularly easily scared kid, maybe watch it with them to be on the safe side.

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                    13.12.2007 17:36
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                    mysterious, hapy, exciting, loving

                    Polar Express.......a perfect christmas movie for 1 year olds to 100 year olds. and it never gets old either, i think i have watched this movie over thirty times since it has come out!!!! musical, loving, exciting, mysterious....that is this movie to a T. i enjoyed the music, how can you not start to sing "hot, Hot, Hot"? it's exciting and makes you feel young again! it's mysterious in that you don't ever know who that guy was with the sock coffee!!! so many things to make this movie wonderful. i totally reccomend it to everyone a great thing to atch on christams eve.

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                      15.11.2007 21:49
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                      Superb movie, I love it

                      I absolutely adore watching Christmas movies, especially from November onwards. So when my Amazon DVD rentals sent me this after I forgot to add anything to my rentals list, I was actually really pleased! I am not quite sure how this film has passed me by for 3 years but I am now very glad I have seen it, and I will be buying my own copy soon! So, to the review.

                      The Polar Express is a wonderful animated film, set on Christmas Eve, and follows the tale of one boy. Strangely enough, we never learn his realy name, but in the credits he is called "Hero Boy" so that is what I shall call him throughout the review. Hero Boy has begun to doubt the existence of Father Christmas, or Santa as he is called in the film. He tries to listen out for Santa on Christmas Eve but doesn't hear anything so retreats back to bed. He hunts through various newspaper clippings and encyclopaedias to find out if the jolly man does exist but things aren't looking too good for Santa. Just as Hero Boy is falling asleep, an enormous locomotive thunders past his bedroom window, before he is invited to board the train by an old conductor, who tells him they are going to the North Pole and that the train is called The Polar Express. Hero Boy does so, and is greeted by many other children.

                      The rest of the film follows the childrens journey on the magic locomotive train through the night to the North Pole to meet the main man himself in order to rid the children of their doubts of Santa's existence. On the way, the children, in particular Hero Boy and Hero Girl, a young girl that Hero Boy befriends during their journey, face many shocking twists and turns which are both exciting and scary, and almost unbelievable in their magic. Some of the things the children face include skiing across the roofs of the train-cars, and the train having to negotiate a rollercoaster-type track at great speed!

                      All of the cahracters in the film are incredibly likeable and cover a broad spectrum of children. For example, Hero Boy is quite cynical outwardly about his beliefs in Santa, yet you can see inside there is a quite desperate part of him which does still want to believe. Hero Girl is very much a leader, very calm and controlled and mature beyond her years. Know-it-all boy is one of those kids at school who just know everything and love to tell you just how much they do know, yet are clearly insecure on the inside despite their outward arrogance. And there is also a painfully shy child, who doesn't sit with the other children and is so down he doesn't believe there is anything special about Christmas, as clearly he has come to expect nothing. I found him so sad, as I would hate to think there are children who have no belief in Santa at all, and that Christmastime will bring them nothing.

                      The adult characters were also interesting in themselves. The majority of the adult male characters were all voiced by the wonderful Tom Hanks who does a superb job in all 4 characters he voices for, each one easily identifiable from the other, so there is no confusion. The first we meet is the Conductor of the train, an exurberant man who loves Christmas and is determined to make the children believe in Santa once more. The second character is a homeless man who lives on top of the train. He was the strangest character to me, not the nicest man but you could tell there was something there beneath his rough exterior. Hanks also voices the big man himself, Santa. This Santa wasn't as sweet and friendly as he is in most other children's films but it seemed to work well within this movie. Hero Boy's parents also appear briefly at the start and end of the film, and aren't particularly nice people in my opinion, especially the father who doesn't seem bothered that his son is losing his belief in Santa.

                      The film was just magical for me. The animation is superb right through the film. I did find that the character's faces didn't have all that much animation in terms of expressions but younger viewers of this film won't notice this. I did find however that the scenery parts, in the North Pole, and whilst the train was travelling at high speed through a snow-storm were just so brilliant I had to remind myself that it was animation and not real! The train itself looks big and magical, although not particuarly bright or christmassy, again which adds to the magic and mystery of the whole thing.

                      The message is something which has been covered several times in film, young children coming of age and begininng to doubt the existence of Santa. But I found this film had something different to give. The children, especially Hero Boy, were instantly convinced about the whole thing, choosing instead to believe the whole thing is a dream. But the ending of the film is just superb and wraps up all of the threads which were running through the film nicely. It really is a nicely woven story which is easy enough for young children to follow, but that older ones will be able to relate to, and adults can just be mesmerised by a world we wish we could once again believe in!

                      The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who has famously directed the Back to the Future trilogy, and also co-wrote the movie together with Chris Van Allsburg. The film runs for 99 minutes, which I think is just within the realms of a young child's attention span, but I think the magic of the film will keep them interested! It has a certificate of U, meaning it is suitable for all. A brief mention should go to the soundtrack. This really adds to the christmassy feel of the film, especially because there aren't many visual scenes which are overly christmassy so the soundtrack plays an important part. The directors have chosen old, classic Christmas songs such as Santa Claus is Coming To Town by Frank Sinatra and It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas by Perry Como. Superb choice of songs!

                      Cast:
                      Tom Hanks ... Hero Boy / Father / Conductor / Hobo / Scrooge / Santa Claus
                      Leslie Harter Zemeckis ... Sister Sarah / MotherEddie Deezen ... Know-It-All
                      Nona Gaye ... Hero Girl
                      Peter Scolari ... Lonely Boy

                      The DVD can be bought from Play.com for £5.99 for a single disk edition, and £10.99 for a 2 disk edition. Well woth the investment if you ask me, and I can't wait until Harry is old enough to watch this with me! And those who have seen it will know what I mean when I say that I hope Harry is hearing the tinkling of the bell for many years to come!

                      Thank you for reading!

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                        30.10.2007 12:05
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                        A little boy sets off for a ride of a life time, in search of the truth about Christmas

                        Director: Robert Zemeckis
                        Voices: Tom Hanks, Eddie Deezan, Nona Gaye, Peter Scolari
                        Cinema release date: December 2004
                        Genre: Animated Children’s Fantasy
                        Classification: G
                        Run Time: 99 minutes
                        DVD RRP: 22.99 Amazon: £10.98
                        Availability: HMV, Virgin, WHSmith, Woolworths… you name it, they have got it

                        What is it all about
                        *********************
                        An adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg book, this Christmas tale is centred on a little boy who has reached an age where doubt has begun to set in about our beloved Santa Claus.
                        On Christmas Eve, as the skeptic lies awake in bed, a train appears in the middle of the road, stopping right outside the boys’ house. Being as curious as any young boy, he jumps out of bed and rushes down to where the train is waiting. When the conductor tells the boy the train is the Polar Express heading for the North Pole, the boys curiousity gets the better of him and at the last minute, he jumps on board, determined to find out the truth about Santa Clause. Once onboard, the boy finds a train full of little boys and girls excited about the great adventure that lies ahead.

                        Who is Robert Zemeckis?
                        *****************************
                        Zemeckis, one of Steven Spielberg’s regular collaborators, is known as somewhat of a special effects king in the film industry. He now owns two production companies of his own and has showcased his special effects talent as far back as the 1980’s in films such as Who framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future.

                        More recently, Zemeckis has worked on more serious projects as well, like the critically acclaimed 1997 Jodie Foster film, Contact. Zemeckis first worked with his Polar Express ‘star’ Tom Hanks in 1994 on the award-winning film Forrest Gump that saw Hanks head in an entirely new and challenging career direction.

                        How was the story/script?
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                        The script, which was written by Robert Zemickis together with the books original author, Chris Van Allsburg. Is cleverly done.

                        I suppose it could be argued that the “Is Santa Clause real?” storyline has been done a million times now. So why is The Polar Express different?

                        The Polar Express has a completely different feel to it. It isn’t all sugar drops and snowflakes and children making snow angels while their parents kiss under the mistletoe. For a Christmas film it begins as something quite dark, some have even said creepy. The film, and the script goes deeper than the average film out around Christmas. There are none of the common place Christmas clichés to be found in the script. And the writers haven’t taken undo care to pander to kids in an effort to protect them. Instead, they have given children credit for being grown up enough to know not everything in life is perfect, but that doesn’t mean believing in dreams can’t make them come true.

                        I think the fact that the main character in the story, isn’t even given a name. This, although it sounds odd, may not sound like a big deal but it is a part of the mysterious nature of the film.

                        How were the characters?
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                        Tom Hanks as Hero boy, Conductor, Father, Scrooge, Santa Clause
                        Eddie Deezan as the know it all boy
                        Nona Gaye as the hero girl
                        Peter Scolari as the lonely boy.

                        The characters in Polar Express are equally far from what we have grown to expect from children’s films, particularly seasonal films.

                        Interestingly, none of the main characters are given names. Instead, the lead children are know as Hero Boy, Hero Girl, Know-it-all and Lonely boy. I expect this is because this is closer to how children identify each other. As kids, we assess potential friends within an instant and the label they are given last a life time.

                        I was impressed by the depth of the characters. The writers went to great lengths to give the kids a history and a background. Hero boy was a solemn and sensitive boy who although growing skeptical, wanted to believe. Hero Girl was all about kindness and a gentle demeanor that was needed to keep the other kids on track. Know-it-all, the obnoxious kid that rubs the other kids the wrong way, was deep down, a bag of insecurities and just desperate to be liked. Lonely Boy, the saddest of the kids was from the wrong side of the tracks and obviously didn’t expect anything out of life anymore.

                        Tom Hanks played an array of characters, which was unexpected. He played each one brilliantly and we were never in doubt of which character he was playing at the time. The transition from one to the other was seamless.

                        Santa Clause, although kind has been painted as more of a focused, no nonsense businessman than a jolly old man who can do no wrong. It is an interesting twist that seems perfectly in place in this film.

                        The most oddly placed, but important character for me was the Hobo who lived on top of the train. He was far from pleasant, but you had the feeling he was there as a sort of guide for the kids and was more complex than he first appeared.


                        How was the cinematography?
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                        The overall look of this film is nothing short of astounding. The beautiful artwork combined with the live action translates to the screen flawlessly. This combination results in a process called Performance Capture and allows the animation to move with the same fluidity as human characters would. It is enthralling to watch.

                        The creativity and imaginative choreography of the production is incredible. Whether the waiters on the train are breaking in to song and dance or the immense scale of the North Pole with thousands of elves and a magical backdrop, the effect is awe-inspiring.
                        There is a wonderful mix of tender, quiet moments, like the children quietly contemplating their experience on the train to wild and exciting magical adventures like when Santa Clause does finally arrive.

                        Final Thoughts…
                        *******************
                        If you are rolling you eyes at the thought of Jingle Bells ringing through your head for the next two months, or are living in fear of the saccharin Christmas themed TV that will grace our screens from now until February, then without a doubt, The Polar Express is a definite must.
                        I would suggest, that if you are watching it with small children, make sure you stick close by in the beginning. It can be a little bit frightening for the little ones.
                        It is an enchanting film with more honesty, intrigue and imagination than any other Santa-starring films you will see. The cinematography is exceptional and the story is a unique and intriguing twist on the usual Christmas tale.
                        DVD Features
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                        2 disc edition
                        Theatrical Trailer
                        You Look Familiar
                        A Genuine Ticket To Ride
                        True Aspirations An Authors Adventure
                        Josh Groban At The Greek
                        Behind The Scenes Of Believe
                        Meet The Snow Angles
                        Flurry Of Effects Easter Eggs
                        Polar Express Challenge Kid Game
                        CDROM Links


                        I bet you didn’t know…
                        **************************

                        •Nominated for Three Oscars, a BAFTA and A Golden Globe as well as 12 other industry nominations and 4 wins

                        •It is the first movie to use the Imagemotion technology (before Monster House)

                        •The film used 3D motion capture techniques to digitally record the physical performances of the actors

                        •All the children's roles were acted by adults using over-sized props to get the movement right.

                        •Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records 2006 as the "first all-digital capture" film, where all acted parts were done in digital capture.

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                          27.02.2007 16:51
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                          a good film for the whole family

                          The Polar Express DVD

                          I was bought this film for Christmas from my mum as I was complaining that before Christmas I had nothing to watch that would get me into the Christmas spirit. Apart from sitting watching Alistair Sims version of scrooge with my dad which in my view is not giving as much Christmas spirit as it should.

                          Anyhow it being February now nearly March I thought it time I watched it. Seeing as I'm on my sick bed from work and too skint to afford any more blockbuster movies this is one in my collection that i had yet to watch so shoved it on to see what it was all about.

                          The first thing I noticed when beginning to watch this film is that Tom Hanks appears to do most of the adult voices and appears as many a different character.

                          The film starts with a young boy at home on Christmas Eve and wondering really if Father Christmas will come and is begging to loose faith that there really is such a thing as Santa clause.

                          He is woken up from his light sleep by a sudden large noise, which stirs him to leave the warmth of his bed and venture outside his front door to see what is going on.

                          Outside in a midst a mountain of smoke appears a steam train with the embossed letter "polar express" on the outside. As he struggles to see and deal with the fact there is a stream train outside in his front garden the train conductor calls out for all to board. After a few reluctant steps back and a few words of encouragement from the conductor himself the little boy gets aboard the steam train.

                          Along with a whole lot of other young children this little boy takes an adventure of a lifetime to travel to the north pole to try to find Santa clause. He teams up with a little girl and they proceed to get into lots of trouble together but come though with flying colours!

                          The story obviously continues with the story of their adventures of the evening onto the polar express steam train and when they get to the North Pole. These two also teem up with a little sad boy who seems lost until they befriend him but don't worry everything will work out alright in the end - these films always do. I don't think I should say much more so as not to give the whole DVD story line away.

                          The film itself was really enjoyable and the way the computerised animation was done was really impressive. The story was good and even thought it was meant for children I would have to say i really enjoyed it. Even thought it is nearly march now it still managed to get me a little bit in the mood for Christmas especially as it is such a dreary day outside!

                          I would recommend this film to all lovers of children's films, as this one is sure to be a future classic. Suitable for all kids and big kids alike.

                          I am not too sure how much my mum paid for this DVD but i have seen it in places like Tesco or Woolworth for around £6 to £8 but i expect this film would be available on an internet auction site at a fraction of the retail price as most things like this usually are.

                          i should say that the classification of this film is a "U" so suitable for everyone! Although on the back of the case it does say "contains mild Peril" which i actually find most amusing. It runs for 92mins, which is 1 hour and 32mins for people who wish they would write it like that instead.

                          The special features on this DVD are actually non existent as the options from the main menu consist of "play movie" " scene Selection" Theatrical trailer" or languages. The trailer selection is just the trailer for this particular film and not that of all the other recent films that were released at this time. I think the special features should be a little more due to the fact this DVD is especially meant for children and I always like to see some sort of interactive game but never mind you cant get everything!

                          On the whole this DVD offers great entertainment for both children and adults a like and I can't think that anyone wouldn't enjoy sitting down and watching this film.

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                            06.07.2006 16:58
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                            polar express

                            My son who is 3 loves this film it might be because he loves trains.When we bought htis film a couple of months ago soon as we got back he had it on straight away he sat through the whole film and didnt move once which was great for me .He laught through it and after it had finished he had to have it on again and he was singing along to the songs.
                            the main role is tom hanks who does the voice of the train conductor here is a little taster of the film
                            A young boy lies awake in his room one snowy christmas eve excited and alert.
                            Breathing silently.Hardly moving.Waiting.
                            Hes listening for a sound hes afraid that he might never hear-the ringing bells of santas sleigh.
                            The time is five minutes to midnight.
                            Suddenly the boy is startled by a thunderous roar.Clearing the mist from his window he sees the most amazing sight the polar express train .Thats all you are getting

                            special features

                            widescreen version enhanced for 16by 9
                            dolby digital
                            english 5.1 surround
                            english dolby surround
                            french dolby surround

                            english subtitles

                            interactive menus

                            scene selection

                            2 theatrical trailers

                            exclusive cast and crew interveiws

                            exclusive behind the legend featurette

                            commentary with director tim burton

                            selected cast biographies

                            photo gallery

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                              29.12.2005 16:11
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                              Great Xmas film

                              The Polar Express was released at the cinema last christmas (2004) But my son was too young to sit through a film at that stage, so I had to await the release on DVD.
                              At last the day came and we were straight on ebay to buy it as soon as we found a good deal, which with a little patience it soon did we got it on a buy it now for £6.99. What a crackin deal that was.

                              The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis who also directed Forrest Gump, so he has worked with Tom Hanks before heck he probably even requested him. The film is an adaptation from a book like most kiddie films the book was written by a guy called Chris Van Allsburgh.

                              The story ia about a boy who stops believing in christmas and Santa Clause, and is feeling a bit dissapointed about it all.
                              But then one christmas eve he hears a loud noise outside his house and rushes to his window to see what is happening. To his surprise he sees what appears to be a big locomotive pulled train like the orient express pull up outside his house, so he rushes outside to see what is going on.

                              As he reaches the train he is greeted by the conductor of the train (voice by Tom Hanks)
                              All aboard he shouts as the train's whistle goes, and turns to look at the boy standing in the snow. "Well you coming?" To which the boy replied "Where too?" The conductoe responded "Well to the north pole of course, this is ths Polar Express". So the boy hops on and, well after a bit of consideration in which he nearly misses it then the journey begins.

                              On the journey he befriends a little girl and they get themselves into some scrapes, but all par for the course in learning what christmas is all about. there are some great scenes during the ride to the north pole, I just loved the way they serve the hot chocolate it is so elaborate but funny. But then the young girl tries to take some to the little boy all alone at the back of the train and forgets her ticket which still needs to be punched. So the boy decides to try to take it too her, however he loses it between the carriages and the wind sweeps it away. This sends it on a marble madness journey and ends up back on the train a bit like on the Honda car advert chain of events type thing.

                              The conductor asks her to present the ticket but of course she has not got it, he fears the conductor is going to throw her of the back of the train. So he sets off to try to stop him and give it to her, this journey takes him onto the roof of the train where he meets a magical hobo (voice also Tom Hanks) Sat at a campfire on the roof of the moving train (keep in mind this is a kiddie film)
                              He decides to help him find the girl, suddenly the hobo appears with ski's on and the train starts to climb a big hill and they nearly fall off the back, which even had me holding my breath. However they do make it to the front and he returns the ticket to it's rightfull owner. Only to find she is actually driving the train, well I did say it was a kiddie film.

                              The one other bit that sticks in my mind is when the brake lever breaks off and the train is sent on an unstoppable downward rollercoaster ride at a the steepest part of track called glacier gulch. Better hold on to your dinner tight as it really sets your head spinning, it feels like on of those simulator machines you go on at fairgrounds without the being thrown around so much. This is my favourite part of the film.

                              Eventually they reach destination north pole where they are to meet Santa, who will then choose one child to open the first present of christmas. But the mishaps don't end there as the children find themselves hurtling out of control again in the back carriage of the train.This is because the accidently uncouple the carriage fetching the little boy all alone to see Santa because they don't want him to miss him. They find themselves lost in elf town, the little girl trys to find the way back following the sound of sleigh bells. But the boy can't hear them as he does not believe in christmas and you have to believe to hear them.

                              They embark upon a mad magical journey around the inner workings of elf town to find their way back to the main square where all the inhabitants have gathered to marvel in the magic of Santa and his sleigh and the biggest bag of presents you have ever seen. However the boy still can't see or hear anything as he still does not believe fully. The question is will he start to believe? Will he hear the bells? Well come on it is a kiddie film, of course it will have a happy ending and you wouldn't have it any other way. The warm feeling you get when the person involved gets what they have always wished for, you can't help but wish you could be that person and have the journey of a lifetime on the magical mystical Polar Express.
                              Of course the voice of Santa is also provided by Tom Hanks, well who else would it be he was just about every other character anyway and boy he done good.

                              The best thing for me is that it aint full of soppy songs like most other kiddie films, you know when after a while you just wish they would just shut up and get on with it. Half the time even the kids get fed up of it, but believe me my son was mesmerised the whole time he normally has the attention span of a goldfish. Brilliant film with plenty of sentiment and even a sort of moral of the story type scenario at the end, hardly a tear jurker but leaving you with a warm glowing sensation for quite a while after.

                              Brand new from the shops this DVD will set you back around £14.99, but you can shop around for better deals.

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                            • Product Details

                              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, Amazon.com