The Polar Express

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of The Polar Express
Polar Express

The Polar Express is available as a single disc and a double-disc set. I ended up plumping down for the single-disc version, since none of the extras on the double-disc interested me at all.

As most of us know, the film is a sumptuous looking experience, due to its incredible design and cleverly meshed computer graphics with conventional filmic ideas and skill. On DVD, this look is still superbly rendered, with a direct digital transfer preserving the sublime detail. All film artefacts have been eliminated, leaving a velvety smooth and truly remarkable master from which MPEG-2 compression is almost completely transparent. The slim 96-minute runtime allows a nearly maximal video bitrate and every snowflake, every piece of frost on the engine, every hair is visible. This is a reference video transfer, in every way. It makes me yearn for a projector and a high-definition copy of the film for next Christmas.

Copy picture

The sound design - nominated for two Oscars in Mixing and Editing - is beautifully represented on DVD. The complete frequency range is fully utilised, from the ear-screaming squeal of steel wheels on a frozen lake, to the deep, thunderous roar of the train pistons flying through your room. Alan Silvestri's miraculous score (still denied a full commercial release) is balanced perfectly, along with the wildly immersive stereo surround mixing. It's not quite as expansive as more recent titles, such as Revenge Of The Sith, but The Polar Express is not left wanting in any way from the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. Like the video, it makes me wish for better equipment.

The only extra on the single disc DVD is the trailer - a nice, elegant trailer that gives away nothing other than the painterly style of animation and the central characters.

Reviewed on: 21 Nov 2005
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The Polar Express packshot
A sceptical boy rides on a magic train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. Out on re-issue.
Amazon link

Product Code: D072973

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.40 Wide Screen Anamorphic

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Trailer

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