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DVD Review: The Polar Express

Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006 and updated on Wednesday, October 4th, 2006 12:08 AM

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Front Cover ArtworkThe Polar Express
DVD - 2-disc Widescreen Edition
Warner Bros. 38954 - Region 1
100 minutes

List Price: $29.95 (Check Price at Amazon.com)

Rated G

 Theatrical This DVD
Aspect Ratio:2.35:1 2.35:1

Dolby Digital 5.1

Dolby Digital 5.1


Disc Contents - Disc 1

  • Movie
  • Theatrical Trailer

Disc Contents - Disc 2

  • Additional Song: The never-before-heard "Smokey and Steamer" song.
  • You Look Familiar: Hear about Tom Hanks' 5 unique roles, how each character was different, and what it took for him to bring each one to life.
  • A Genuine Ticket to Ride: Behind-the-scenes secrets.
    • Performance Capture
    • Virtual Camera
    • Hair and Wardrobe
    • Creating the North Pole
    • Music
  • True Inspiration An Author's Adventure: Chris Van Allsburg discusses his artistic background and how he conceived the idea for The Polar Express book.
  • Believe: Josh Groban Music Video: Josh Groban at the Greek performing the Academy Award nominated original song Believe
  • Behind the Scenes of Believe
  • Polar Express Challenges (2 menu challenges that kids can play).
  • Meet the Snow Angels: The Moviemakers' Christmas Memories
  • "Flurry of Effects": (Easter Eggs) Showcases the "performance capture" process used to create the animation. This feature allows viewers to watch short scenes from the film with the ability to toggle between several video sequences.
    • All Aboard
    • Hot Chocolate
    • Hobo on top of Train
    • I Believe
    • Good Bye
  • THQ Polar Express Game Demo

About the Movie

Based on a very short children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is a story about a boy who is doubting the magic of Christmas and boards the magical Polar Express train headed to the North Pole, where Santa will give one fortunate child the first gift of Christmas.

Tom Hanks plays several roles, made possible by the motion-capture animation used in the movie. This effect produces a very lifelike rendering of the characters whose quality matches the excellent rendering of the boy's hometown, the train, and the North Pole and surrounding areas.

Kids will love the visuals that this movie provides, and the movie is just plain fun for anyone willing to let the magic of Christmas touch a part of their hearts. The "Hot Chocolate" song and dance routine will have your kids bouncing to the tune long after the movie is over.

The only criticism I can level against The Polar Express is that it feels a little long. Whereas most children's classic holiday movies (Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, for example) clock in at around 50 minutes, this is a longish 100 minutes. If your child's attention span doesn't last that long, or you don't want your children sitting in front of a video for that long, you may want to break it up into multiple viewings. Aside from that, the movie never really drags, and there are some roller-coaster style scenes to mix up the pacing a little.

I found myself drawn into the movie while preparing for this review, even though I've seen it before. To me, that's a sign of a good movie. My kids are already asking to watch it when the holidays come around, so be prepared to have this movie in your collection of holiday favorites. It might seem to be a bit of a stretch to put it in the same league as the traditional holiday children's movies that we grew up on, but if you think about the fact that those movies are watchable every year, it's not so much of a stretch after all.

How Does it Look?

The picture is clean and very good overall. The DVD does the superb rendering quality of the animation justice.

How Does it Sound?

The sound is impressive, with the arrival of the train being the most impressive of all. Ambient effects keep you immersed in the scenes and nothing is jarring or out of place.

Recommended Reading

Don't just take our word for it, check out these resources for more reviews of the movie and of the DVD.

Netflix, Inc.
Check Prices on Amazon.com

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