2004 Holiday Movie Reviews
Reviews of The Polar Express
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Number of Reviews: 24
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See it at the Zoo - in Imax 3D

This is a wonderful interpretation of Van Allsburg's book. It's the book come to life. I just saw it at the Imax 3D at the Minnesota Zoo and it's hard to imagine it being as good in regular vision. Pay the extra $4 for the Imax 3D expereince. It's fantastic.

Some reviewers have suggested it's too spooky for the very young. I don't know what they are talking about. And not just me. I sat next to a 3-4 yr. old and he wasn't scared at all. It's simply a delight, execuyted spectacularly in Imax 3D.

Reviewer: Keith Ford of Minneapolis, MN (December 23, 2004)
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I felt assaulted by this movie

I know they had to add something to the book to make a full length movie, but why "Star Wars"? I was hoping for soft magic and great storytelling for my 7 year old; instead we were shown chase scenes. This movie was very disappointing.

Reviewer: Grey Doffin of Duluth, MN (December 18, 2004)
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The Polar Express

The whole family enjoyed it. I thought the symbolism of the tramp was too subtle for children, but it did not seem to bother mine.

Reviewer: Diane Herold of Minneapolis, MN (December 17, 2004)
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Holiday train pulls on the kid in all of us.

This movie should be seen in 3D at the Minnesota Zoo Imax to be fully enjoyed. From the start, you know that you're not in Kansas anymore!
The warm and fuzzy imagery combined with in your face 3D action sweeps you into the storybook scenes. The pounding, clanging, smoke choking train looks and sounds so real you can almost smell the soot and steam.
Ride into a fantasy snow land and discover a new holiday classic that you won't forget.

Reviewer: Jim Steinworth of St. Paul, MN (December 14, 2004)
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The Polar Express

Review: The Polar Express:

Before taking my kid to see this movie, I first read the book. It was a nicely illustrated and sweet story of a boy on Christmas Eve who is conflicted about the existence of Santa Claus. He is awoken in the night by a train stopping in his yard. He investigates and is invited to climb aboard. The train then takes him to the North Pole to see for himself that Santa Claus really does exist. It was a charming, low-key little story, that took all of five minutes to read and I couldn't imagine how it could be turned into a full-length movie.

The answer is that they took this sweet, charming, low-key little story and turned it into a thrill ride. Once the boy gets on the train, dangerous things start to happen. The train ride turns into a harrowing roller-coaster, only made worse by the train losing its brakes. At one point, he has to climb on top of the train. The train crosses a frozen lake and nearly breaks through the ice. Through all this, the few adults in the movie (all voiced by Tom Hanks), seem disconcertedly indifferent to the safety of the children on the train, being more concerned with getting to the North Pole on time.

In the end, of course, they DO make it to the North Pole. The North Pole in this case, being apparently a somewhat bleak industrial city devoted to making toys for children. The city is populated entirely by Elves who have all gathered in a large square to see Santa take off on his yearly journey to deliver the toys. The impression one gets is that Santa is the ultimate Personality Cult, a sort of Kim Il Santa, Dictator of the North Pole, to whom the elves are enslaved and obligated to cheer for.

Needless to say, this was not quite the same attitude the book presents, although the animation in the movie is quite good and holds true to the vision of the original book. The most surprising thing about the movie is that in spite of what was seemingly someone's best effort to ruin the story; some of the charm and joy of the book still does shine through. I attribute that mainly to the quality of the animation and that they still had to work with the same basic plot underneath all the filler. If you are inclined to enjoy thrill-ride kinds of adventures, then it might be worth seeing this at the IMAX theatre where these qualities will be heightened. As it is, it might be too scary for younger children. For my part, I only hope that this is later trimmed back to maybe a half-hour long TV special which would keep the best qualities of the original book.

Reviewer: Richard Kurtz of New Brighton, MN (December 13, 2004)
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Hot, Hot, Hot!

I loved the movie. Tom Hanks was great as always. I thought the roller coaster ride and the Hobo were a lot of fun. It certainly stretched way beyond the original book but was very entertaining.

Joe Zahner

Reviewer: Joe Zahner of St Louis Park, MN (December 12, 2004)
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The Polar Express

I liked it very much. It was very exciting. It had some spirit and some love. I now have the Christmas spirit because I saw that movie. I must say that my Mom thinks it was rather dark, occassionally lapsed into a musical comedy, Tom Hanks played way too many characters, and the shy kids' character was underdeveloped. I'm not real sure what all that means but I would go again. I think we all had a good time and we went to target afterward to get some jingle bells. I'm happy to report that I still hear the beautiful Christmas music they make.

Reviewer: vivian wade-banks of fayetteville, NC (December 12, 2004)
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Exciting Adventure

Our whole family (42,41,13,and 10) loved this movie. Our kids have already seen it for a second time, and want to buy it when it becomes available, for our Christmas collection of movies.

Reviewer: anne jarvis of northfield, MN (December 11, 2004)
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The Polar Express

This is a wonderful, magical movie--a real classic. It is perfect for viewers of all ages.

Reviewer: Nancy Blocher of Marine-on-St. Croix, MN (December 9, 2004)
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Don't miss this train back to the bliss of childhood

The Polar Express was one of my favorite books as a child, and the film version truly did justice to this magical tale. It's impossible not to lose yourself in the beauty and moment-to-moment wonder of this movie. Your ears will strain to hear the sleigh bells ringing and you will shiver with anticipation as the train speeds through the falling snow towards the North Pole. Tom Hanks is the icing on the cake - a phenomenal multi-performance by an unforgettable performer. Don't miss the Polar Express, whether you have children or just want to feel like one again!

Reviewer: Arissa Swanson of Shoreview, MN (December 9, 2004)
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