The Polar Express (2004) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Polar Express (2004)



Critic Consensus: Though the movie is visually stunning overall, the animation for the human characters isn't lifelike enough, and the story is padded.

Movie Info

Directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on children's author Chris Van Allsburg's modern holiday classic of the same name, The Polar Express revolves around Billy (Hayden McFarland), who longs to believe in Santa Claus but finds it quite difficult to do so, what with his family's dogged insistence that all of it, from the North Pole, to the elves, to the man himself, is all just a myth. This all changes, however, on Christmas Eve, when a mysterious train visits Billy in the middle of the night, promising to take him and a group of other lucky children to the North Pole for a visit with Santa. The train's conductor (Tom Hanks) along with the other passengers help turn Billy's crisis in faith into a journey of self-discovery. A long-time fan of Van Allsburg's book, Hanks also helped produce the film. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovimore
Rating: G
Genre: Drama, Animation, Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Zemeckis, William Broyles, William Broyles Jr., Malia Scotch Marmo, Malia Scotch
In Theaters:
On DVD: Nov 22, 2005
Box Office: $0.5M
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site


Leslie Zemeckis
as Sister Sarah/Mother
Tom Hanks
as Hero Boy/Father/Cond...
Michael Jeter
as Smokey/Steamer
Nona Gaye
as Hero Girl
Eddie Deezen
as Know-it-All
Steven Tyler
as Elf Singer
Daryl Sabara
as Hero Boy
Charles Fleischer
as Elf General
Chris Coppola
as Elf/Toothless Boy
Peter Scolari
as Lonely Boy
Jimmy Bennett
as Lonely Boy
Brendan King
as Pastry Chef
Isabella Peregrina
as Sister Sarah
Andy Pellick
as Pastry Chef
Josh Eli
as Waiter
Hayden McFarland
as Lonely Boy
Connor Matheus
as Toothless
Sean Scott
as Waiter
Dante Pastula
as Little Boy
Eric Newton
as Acrobatic Elf
Aidan O'Shea
as Acrobatic Elf
Aaron Hendry
as Acrobatic Elf
Kevin C. Carr
as Acrobatic Elf
Bee Jay Joyer
as Acrobatic Elf
Jena Carpenter
as Acrobatic Elf
Karine Mauffrey
as Acrobatic Elf
Beth Carpenter
as Acrobatic Elf
Bill Forchion
as Acrobatic Elf
Devin Henderson
as Acrobatic Elf
Sagiv Ben-Binyamin
as Acrobatic Elf
Ashly Holloway
as Sister Sarah
Evan Sabara
as Young Boy
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Polar Express

Critic Reviews for The Polar Express

All Critics (202) | Top Critics (48)

People in Hollywood should never work with children or animals, W.C. Fields once said. Maybe that should be expanded to hyper-realistic computer-generated children and reindeer, too.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Associated Press
Top Critic

As a spectacle, The Polar Express looks remarkable. As a film, however, it's the equivalent of an elaborately wrapped Christmas present containing a nice new pair of socks.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
AV Club
Top Critic

Tom Hanks (in a number of roles) and the other actors do a nice job of voicing their parts, but the waxy animated faces they've been given are off-putting.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

At some point very early in the 3-D IMAX version of The Polar Express, technology trumps banality and you helplessly surrender to the shock and awe of this big, often thunderous movie.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Director Robert Zemeckis once again harnesses a new technology to an engaging fable in this digitally animated adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg's holiday tale.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A train wreck of mind-numbing proportions.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Polar Express

Some fantastic animation for the time, some great performances from Sabara and Hanks, a good adaptation of the novel, and just a fun movie.

michael e.
Michael Edwards

Super Reviewer

Well, I just watched this finally...almost 10 years later. I liked it a lot!! I can see that is was a new frontier of film making, and it was a little rough yet. People, apparently, were not used to seeing computer image cartoons, either. But, the storyline was wonderful, sweet, heartwarming, and it really got me into the Christmas spirit this year. Nicely done!!

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


"The Polar Express" offers incredible visuals and literally takes you on a roller coaster ride to the North Pole on an unforgettable journey that kids of all ages will love. Tom Hanks lends his voice to many characters for a symbolic reason that only adults will be able to understand, but for kids, the magic will still surround this film for them. This is a very fun journey that follows a kid as he believes more and more that the magic of Christmas really does exist. The dialogue is funny and heartfelt, the animation is gorgeous, and the characters are very charming to watch. I can watch this film over and over again, it just gives me a very warm feeling inside. "The Polar Express" releases my inner child every time! Even though it has a few slow moments, it's a great holiday film!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

The Polar Express Quotes

Hero Boy/Father/Conductor/Hobo/Scrooge/Santa: There's no greater gift than friendship.
– Submitted by Christopher E (5 months ago)
Hero Boy: I believe.
– Submitted by Christopher E (5 months ago)
Conductor: Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see.
– Submitted by Andrew M (3 years ago)
Hero Boy: At one time most of my friends could hear the bell. But as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found, one Christmas, that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me... as it does for all who truly believe.
– Submitted by Dann M (4 years ago)

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