The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (2024)

56% Tomatometer 210 Reviews 64% Audience Score 100,000+ Ratings Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump"; "Cast Away") reunite for "Polar Express," an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Read More Read Less Watch on Fandango at Home Buy Now

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The Polar Express

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Critics Consensus

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

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Critics Reviews

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The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (1) Peter Bradshaw Guardian The schmaltz content gets higher and higher, as if administered through a drip feed, until by the end we are drowning in sucrose. Rated: 3/5 Dec 4, 2014 Full Review The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (2) David Germain Associated Press 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. Dec 9, 2013 Full Review The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (3) Keith Phipps AV Club 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. Dec 9, 2013 Full Review The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (4) Matt Brunson Film Frenzy A “Harry Potter meets Scrooge” hodgepodge enacted on a plateau of plasticity. Rated: 2/4 Feb 15, 2023 Full Review The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (5) Carson Timar ButteredPopcorn While on paper everything about The Polar Express seems to point towards the feature being a disaster, the final product stays on the rails to become anything but. Rated: A- Aug 28, 2022 Full Review The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (6) Ruhaan Shah Film Companion Director Robert Zemeckis adds tenderness to this roller-coaster ride of a train, the thrill and adrenaline are constantly offset with unrestrained emotional punches. May 26, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Andrew Absolutely love this movie! 11/10 Rated 5/5 Stars • Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/22/23 Full Review Cesar A must see movie !! MAGICAL!!!😊 Rated 5/5 Stars • Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/19/23 Full Review Jill Beautiful movie and great on big screen Rated 5/5 Stars • Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/17/23 Full Review Helene So, I took two kids, under five, they got scared, had to leave movie. Rated 2/5 Stars • Rated 2 out of 5 stars 12/12/23 Full Review Rebecca Always a great Christmas movie no matter your age. This came out when my daughter was 2, she is now 21 and being able to see it at the theater together this year was a treat! So glad they screened it at our favorite theater Look Cinemas. Rated 5/5 Stars • Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/10/23 Full Review Jennifer It was a great family activity. It was the first time seeing it on the big screen. It was great. Rated 5/5 Stars • Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/03/23 Full Review Read all reviews

The Polar Express

My Rating


Cast & Crew

Robert Zemeckis Director Tom Hanks Hero Boy Michael Jeter Smokey Nona Gaye Hero Girl Peter Scolari Lonely Boy Eddie Deezen Know It All
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The Polar Express

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Movie Info

Synopsis Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump"; "Cast Away") reunite for "Polar Express," an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe.

Robert Zemeckis

Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jack Rapke

Robert Zemeckis, William Broyles Jr.

Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock

Production Co
Universal CGI, Playtone Productions, ImageMovers, Warner Brothers, Castle Rock Entertainment, Golden Mean


Kids & Family, Holiday, Fantasy, Animation

Original Language

Release Date (Theaters)
Nov 10, 2004, Wide

Release Date (Streaming)
Dec 12, 2011

Box Office (Gross USA)

1h 40m

Sound Mix
Surround, DTS, Dolby SRD, SDDS

Aspect Ratio
Scope (2.35:1)
Most Popular at Home Now
The Polar Express | Rotten Tomatoes (2024)


Why did Polar get such bad reviews? ›

Critics Reviews

Polar is an astonishingly flaccid film, a movie that prioritizes blood splatter and bouncing butts over literally all else, including plot and character development. Content collapsed. If it has any redeeming qualities, it chooses to keep them a secret. Content collapsed.

Why was Polar Express controversial? ›

The animation in The Polar Express has been criticized as creepy, with the characters feeling unsettling and off-putting to many viewers. The movie evokes a nostalgic feeling of Christmas, with its focus on the importance of belief and the magic of the holiday season.

What food did they eat on The Polar Express? ›

Unlike in the film, where the children are only served hot chocolate, there are also cakes, muffins, and cookies. Most dining cars in real life have kitchens in them, but not the dining car in The Polar Express. Instead, there is a separate kitchen car which is seen in "The Lost Ticket" and "Toys! Toys!" levels.

Why is The Polar Express so trippy? ›

Well, it's because of the animation. The graphics are so life-like, but at the same time, not quite realistic enough, which has given many the creeps. Well this is because of uncanny valley – the notion that the more human-like a non-human character becomes, the more we like it, until it becomes too unsettling.

Why people don t like Polar Express? ›

The most common complaint is that the animation makes the people look uncanny, and I get it. However, I don't think that's enough to dismiss all the great things about the movie.

Why was the Polar Express so good? ›

The movie is trying to convey to the audience that it's not about what you see and how things work, it's about choosing to believe in the magic of the world. The power that choice to believe has is where the magic of childlike wonder comes from and is something people seem to forget when they grow into adulthood.

What is the dark meaning behind The Polar Express? ›

The conductor and hobo are two of the paths the hero can take depending on what he chooses to believe after this night. The Polar Express is dark because when one stops believing in childhood imagination, they become older and older until one day, they pass away.

Why does Tom Hanks play everyone in Polar Express? ›

Hanks plays five roles in the film including that of a small child (whose voice would later be dubbed in by Daryl Sabara). Initially Zemeckis considered having him play every role, but after trying this, Hanks grew exhausted, and they whittled down the number.

Is The Polar Express disturbing? ›

But it's also an adventure, with lots of roller-coaster thrills and some scary characters that might be too intense and frightening for the youngest kids.

Why is there a hobo in the Polar Express? ›

The hobo's identity is never revealed in the movie, leaving it open to interpretation as to who he is and what his true purpose is. Some fans have speculated that he is a representation of Santa Claus, while others think he may be a guardian angel sent to look after the children on their journey.

What are the 6 rolls in Polar Express? ›

The Polar Express (2004) - Tom Hanks as Hero Boy, Father, Conductor, Hobo, Scrooge, Santa Claus - IMDb.

What drink is served on the Polar Express movie? ›

Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Chocolate (The Polar Express)

Why do people feel uncomfortable watching Polar Express? ›

But because the figures in the Polar Express look so much like real humans you realize even slight divergence from human behaviour much more. So the more realistic and human-like a figure looks, the more you expect it to behave exactly like a real human, and if it then doesn't, it feels kind of creepy to you.

Does The Polar Express say Santa isn't real? ›

Plus another boy explains obliquely that Christmas has 'never worked out' for him. The clear inference is, he's a poor kid with parents who couldn't afford to buy him presents. So he never got any from Santa. Then at the end, they more or less say, obliquely, that Santa doesn't exist.

How did the ghost in The Polar Express died? ›

5 The Hobo is A Ghost Killed By Flat-Top Tunnel

The Hobo is perhaps the most interesting character aboard the Polar Express, the self-proclaimed king of the North Pole. He's fun, but also mysterious and cryptic in his ways.

Is there a sequel to Polar? ›

Future. In May 2022, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed Åkerlund will direct another film adaptation with the title of The Black Kaiser. This film will be a new take of the comics and will be neither be "a sequel or a prequel".

Does anything happen to the dog in Polar? ›

Does the dog die? Around 16.50, Duncan wakes up from a nightmare and shoots Rusty, who is licking his boots. We hear a thump as Rusty's body falls on the ground, but the body is never shown and there's no additional aggression.

What happened to Vivian in Polar? ›

Vivian then sends her men to kill Visla but Visla kills them all and critically injures Vivian with some advanced turrets he received from Jazmin. Vivian's fate is not seen afterward but it is highly possible that she succumbs to her lethal wounds as the bullet was shot through her heart and lung.

Does Polar have a happy ending? ›

Despite the bloodshed, Polar sets itself up for an unexpectedly happy ending: Camille had been involuntarily drugged up during her capture, but she's on the mend; Duncan's isolated cabin was technically the scene of a crime, but its quiet getaway status is settling back in; and Duncan has finally wiped his hands of the ...


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