December 11, 2004

The Polar Express Review

Okay Dy - here is my review for you!

We are big Chris Van Allsburg fans and read "The Polar Express" every year on Christmas Eve as a family. I love his illustrations and we own many of his books, several before we had children even. So we really looked forward to seeing the movie. It took discipline and patience to wait the few weeks we needed to so we could share it with Serona's parents. The kids kept asking to go see it as they were very familiar with the story.

We finally went this past week and thoroughly enjoyed the film. I know that the critics panned it and said it was creepy or scary, but that was not our impression at all. They did a nice job staying true to the illustrations within the book. There were moments where we turned to each other and said "That's from the book". I thought they did an excellent job with the animation and it felt like I hoped a Chris Van Allsburg book would feel. Perhaps if you have never read the book you may not appreciate it in the same light.

They did have to add to the story to make a full length film out of the short book. While I may not have been crazy about some of the things they added, they were not negative enough to detract from the movie for me. Personally I did not enjoy the specter/ghost character they added in as it gave me more to explain to my children but we also saw "A Christmas Carol" on stage this year so I was going to need to do that anyway.

I had heard it was too scary for children, we brought a five, three and one year old. I was fully anticipating having to leave the theater with Ciaran but he was not scared. There were a few moments when he held my hand tighter or said "He should not do that" or "I would never do that, it's dangerous" but he was not frightened. Rhiannon got very into the movie, seeming to feel what was going on at each moment. She was not scared but felt the anticipation and emotions of the characters in the film. She was having a hard time containing herself from saying what she was feeling at each moment. As she sat next to Serona's dad I can not report her comments. Sirah was oblivious to it, she nursed, slept and sat and watched at times. Overall I would say it was not scary but had moments of anticipation or potential fear for children. My kids handled them fine and we limit what they watch. Of course they also knew the story going in so they knew it would all be okay and both can grasp the difference between fantasy and reality pretty well already.

All in all I would give it a great review for families. We want to go see it again on IMAX as some of the special features would be really cool to see that way. This is a movie we will likely own when it comes out and I would not hesitate to recommend to friends. I would say that if you have sensitive children some of the moments may be intense for them and you would need to judge your own child's level of sensitivity. A place to get a more thorough explanation of the movie would be Kids-In-Mind. This is a great site I often use to review content of films. Also I would recommend reading the book before you go if you have not already.



  1. We are looking forward to seeing this film at our IMAX in Seattle! Love your site...I'm reading my way down!

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