The Polar Express is a film adaptation of the children's book, with the same title, written by Chris Van Allsburg. The story begins with a seed of doubt planted in a young boy's mind. It is the 1950's and the young hero is discovered searching for proof of Santa Claus and the North Pole. While the boy sincerely wishes to believe, time and reason have made him skeptical. On Christmas Eve, a magical train makes a stop at the boy's home and a diligent conductor calls him aboard.
It is a wild and, at times, perilous ride through piney forests and across frozen tundra to the final destination, the North Pole. The boy is accompanied by other children who symbolize the spectrum of belief in the Christmas spirit. Aboard the train, passengers and viewers alike are treated to a truly amazing sequence by dancing waiters performing remarkable acrobatic feats while serving hot chocolate. The boy befriends a young girl and a lonely boy on the train. When the lonely boy accidentally uncouples their car from the rest of the train, the trio is left to their own devices in their quest for Santa Claus. The young girl leads them by following the ringing of a bell, heard only by those who believe in the spirit of Christmas.
The young boy's doubts are assuaged as he tours the North Pole, from the control center to the abundantly loaded sleigh. As he professes his belief in Santa and the spirit of Christmas the boy hears the bells for the first time. The conflict is resolved as the young hero's struggle comes to an end. By making the choice to believe, the boy will carry the spirit of Christmas in his heart, even as others grow deaf to the ringing of the bells.
The use of performance capture technology elevates this film to an impressive viewing experience. The movie approaches Christmas from a much darker aspect than viewers generally associate with a holiday film. However, coupled with an enchanting soundtrack and the versatile talent of Tom Hanks, this film has become a cult favorite and Christmas classic for a wide audience. The allure of the movie is greatly enhanced when presented in IMAX 3D, where young and old alike feel they are passengers aboard the Polar Express.