I loved The Polar Express. Just saw it this morning, and I thought it was wonderful. It ranks very close to Pirates of the Caribbean for me, in that it was that kind of pure entertainment that makes a trip to the multiplex worthwhile and satisfying. The Polar Express is a different kind of entertainment that Pirates, but films like these are strong reminders of what Hollywood is capable of when all the creativity is generously poured into bringing stories like these to the screen for the enjoyment - and in this case, inspiration- of a broad audience (however North American and northern hemisphere that may be...)
By now everyone knows that Tom Hanks plays at least four parts in this amazingly animated film; sometimes the characters look almost ... real.
The story goes that a young boy is of the age when he starts to doubt the existence of Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve he is torn between believing or not. He even looks up the North Pole in his encyclopedia (so this is set before the age of computers!) and knows that it is a floating geographic place that could not sustain Santa's workshop.
Soon after he goes to bed, he hears a train outside and goes to investigate. The conductor invites him aboard, but he can't make up his mind. As the train leaves, though, he jumps on and joins other children on their way to the North Pole. He makes friends with a young girl, and a know-it-all kid annoys them. As they pass to the "other side of the tracks", they stop at a house without any decorations and a small boy, Billy, is standing outside. He decides not to board, but the hero of the story and the girl go back for him. Their trip to the North Pole is like a giant roller coaster ride - so if you like these, and are a fan of model trains, you will enjoy many aspects of The Polar Express.
They arrive at the North Pole just before the stroke of midnight ... and I would tell you what they find and but you'll just have to go and see it for yourself!
On the way to the North Pole, the hero-girl and Billy sing a gentle and heartfelt Christmas ballad that may bring a tear to your eye. The film knows that loneliness is the most difficult part of Christmas (Billy says that Christmas has never been much for him) and that friends and family can make all the difference in the world.
Expertly directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg.
The Polar Express has Oscar potential.
It is not a religious film per se, but it is full of the gifts of the Spirit.
Certainly this is a family film, but very young children might find it a bit slow-going. However, it is an intelligent, beautifully crafted film and embraces the audience as it entertains and - inspires.