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    Polar Express, The [23]

    Expectation Reviews   
    The movie is based on the 1986 Caldecott Medal winning children's book by Chris Van Allsber. The Caldecott Medal honors the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Chris is also the author of Jumanji, which has already been made into a movie. Since this is a lavishly illustrated picture book, basically we will be watching a moving version of the story. The tone and settings are already in place. The movie has to expand and make the universe more elaborate.

    The story focuses on a young boy (voiced by Tom Hanks) who has started to doubt the existence of Santa Claus. A magical train pulls up to his house on Christmas Eve, and the conductor (voiced by Tom Hanks) invites him to ride along to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus (voiced by Tom Hanks).

    Besides the above mentioned voices, Hanks also does: Father, Hobo, and Scrooge. Peter Scolari, Hanks' Bosum Buddy, has a speaking part as Lonely Boy.

    The trailers for the movie might have you believing that the young boy dies and the voyage to the afterlife occurs on the Polar Express. Or perhaps it is some sort of haunted locomotive story. Such is the stuff of children's books these days. It is much simpler. The young boy believes in Santa Claus but is beginning to doubt.

    *** Plot Spoilers from the book ****

    It begins like this: "On Christmas Eve, many years ago, I lay quietly in my bed. I did not rustle the sheets. I breathed slowly and silently. I was listening for a sound -- a sound a friend had told me I'd never hear -- the ringing of Santa's sleigh.

    'There is no Santa,' my friend had insisted, but I knew he was wrong."

    From here, we follow a beautifully illustrated story of this young boy's quiet night ride with other children, on the Polar Express train to the North Pole, a "huge city standing alone at the top of the world, filled with factories where every Christmas toy was made."

    Our narrator is the fortunate child, picked by Santa, to receive the first gift of that Christmas. He knows exactly what he wants, a simple gift that will help him continue to believe in the magic of Christmas, a silver bell from a reindeer's harness.

    He gets his wish, but loses it on the train ride home. However, there's a happy ending -- evidently Santa has found the bell, and put it under the tree. The boy and his little sister admire the beauty of the sound it makes, but their parents say, "Oh, that's too bad....It's broken."

    Many years later, the boy's sister and all of his friends can no longer hear the bell.

    "Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe."

    I would like to see this movie, but doubt I will go to the theater. There may not be time this Christmas for the DVD to come out, but Santa will bring it next Christmas. I Believe. {BB}

    Added: November 9th 2004
    Reviewer: BB
    29 Point Scale Score: 23    [23]

    Related Movie Link (IMDB): IMDB
    Hits: 1344
    Language: english


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