Run time: 99 mins
At its best, Polar Express is a heart-in-the-mouth, fantastical spooky adventure (as Christmas ghostly tales often tell). Spectacular on the big screen, with a happy ending. At its worst, little ones (under 8s) will be thrilled here and there, but a little frightened by the clever but weird realistic detail of the animation, and other spooky stuff. In a dream, a doubting boy boards an extraordinary train on his doorstep, to find Father Christmas. Is it a journey of self-discovery, is it a dream…? Polar Express, with its eye-popping animated photo-realism (one of those spooky bits) tells a story, based on Chris Van Allsburg’s best seller. Tom Hanks is the voice (and unfortunate straight face and chief spook) of ‘The Conductor’ who stays in charge, keeps it safe but lets the children make up their own minds about each other. It is an odd, quasi-religious tale of tolerance, discovery and redemption. Hold little ones tight and they’ll be alright. You might need somebody to hold you too! Remember: every fairy tale takes its beloved heroes on crazy adventures, gets them into deep trouble, then gets them out of it again to… happily ever after. Take a deep breath and come again for a fabulous heart leaping ride.