I have to admit I did a double take when I saw that The Polar Express was originally released at the cinema in 2004. I can’t believe it’s that old- the animation and story hold up very well for a film that’s now apparently ancient!
Although intrinsically a Christmas film, our kids have watched The Polar Express throughout the year; it’s a firm family favourite with us, so when Warner Brothers sent it over with a couple of other films on Blu Ray, it was time to ditch the faithful old DVD and watch it in high definition.
To my mind computer animated films really come alive when you watch them on a big screen in high definition (in this case on a 50 inch plasma with 1080p, if you were wondering), and I was delighted to see The Polar Express was no different in this regard. The Conductor isn’t just voiced by Tom Hanks, he is Tom Hanks in most ways that are meaningful and I bet Tom Hanks often gets out of bed and wishes he could manage a moustache that is that extraordinarily verdant.
The story follows a sceptical (but unnamed) boy who is waiting for Father Christmas to not appear so he can prove himself right on his journey of discovery on the magical Polar Express train. It’s actually based on a relatively short story that has obviously had a few additional set pieces inserted to stretch the running time to that of a feature length movie, much like Room on the Broom was tailored in to an half an hour Christmas spectacular. It’s possible to spot where the story has been spun out somewhat if you train a critical eye on it but it doesn’t really matter and certainly doesn’t detract from the spectacle of the North Pole and the boys adventures there.
This is a kids classic that isn’t offensive to adults, and as our little ones have proved, is watchable all year round.