The Polar Express is a beautiful and very imaginative motion capture animated Christmas movie and it looks especially good in Blu-ray. Whether or not The Polar Express is family oriented depends very much on how impressionable your kids are and parental supervision. However, our official Mom Reviewer, dad, and the four kids have made The Polar Express a family tradition.
I must admit I had passed on The Polar Express when first released but I am glad Warner Brothers sent the Blu-ray Steelbook edition our way. It is very entertaining and original. Still, there is something rather creepy about the many animated characters Tom Hanks plays and some of the shots and events are really on the scary side.
The Polar Express is the story of Hero Boy who is about ten years old or so and no longer believes in Santa Claus. The night before Christmas he is awakened by a train stopped in his front yard. The conductor, Tom Hanks, invites him aboard. On board he meets a bunch of kids including a young girl known as Hero Girl.
The two of them will have many misadventures together before they get to the North Pole. Each of the misadventures are an occasion for Hero Boy to prove his mettle. There are perhaps a few too many such misadventures, giving somewhat impression the movie is stalling or the animators are showing off.
Hero Boy and Girl also befriend a poor kid Christmas has always passed by.
The Polar Express is a mixture of animation for the non human elements and motion capture aka digitized and animated actors. The animation is excellent but the motion capture makes for some rather odd expressions and sometimes odd looking characters. You do get used to that.
A few musical numbers sprinkle this Christmas Blu-ray. The first one, Hot Chocolate, is great, the others are generic Xmasy stuff. The music by Alan Silvestri suffers from John Williams pomposity. Did I hear a bar from Easter Parade when the bag lands in the town square?
Special features on The Polar Express Blu-ray Steelbook are much too numerous to mention but include musical numbers and behind the scenes stuff.