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02 February 2012

War Horse (2011)

Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay By: Richard Curits and Lee Hall


Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis


Genre: War, Action & Adventure, Drama
Colour, 146 Minutes


Steven Spielberg presents a tale of a horse, who endures an epic journey through war. The films 146 minute runtime may make some grumble, but for the patient viewer, the film is adventurous, Spielbergian (may annoy some) and most certainly touching. With a touch of Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg has executed the film with his auteur and it is a fine example of a successful big budget director who not only impresses you with some blockbusting visuals, but also controls the stories with great care. This is why War Horse is a compelling slice of cinema, and one of 2011’s finest, despite using some of Spielberg’s typical trademarks.

The plot is more than what you think it would be. Set during the First World War, War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets-British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter-before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man's Land. 

To begin with, the film is technically achieving. When we first see those beautiful Irish lands, we are captivated by the homelike and natural quality it has, and when we reach the films climax, we see the war zone as gritty, dangerous and most certainly frightening. Start to end, the film has brilliant cinematography with each shot more cinematic than the last (not to mention the final shot of the film, which is insanely beautiful). One scene that definitely stands out takes place during the war will definitely surprise and thrill you (I shall not spoil).

However, every film has some flaws and this is no exception. There are some parts of the film that should have just been left out. One that comes to mind is where the horse ends up with the German girl and her grandfather. All it did was try to complicate emotion and they just got in the way as temporary characters. The other problem is there is no real character depth to the film, which I guess some critics and movie watchers disliked it. This is agreeable to an extent, but when we see those soldiers fighting in the trenches, you must have some form of feeling as a human being. As for the horse, the film does not give fake characteristic to the horse to buy the audiences affection (rightfully so), but regardless of that, you care for that horse likely with compassion.

The acting is certainly not the film’s strong point, but no one did a bad job. Jeremy Irvine (Albert) is the lovable Irish lad who cares for his horse as he trains and loves it as a friend. However, the film does not offer any human characters to connect or relate with to an extent. Young Albert, you like for his companionship with the horse and spirit, but after this, the film follows too many characters and lacks development. This includes the brothers in the trenches, as there was no real character depth to it.

Spielberg has touched this film sentimentality and gritty adventure. The first half a more tranquil setting, then we endure the horrors of war. Spielberg definitely touched this film with great care with the action being cinematically engaging, and the drama being breath taking. Even though using the war as a device for tragedy and drama is quite cliché, it does not bring down the film fatally. The critics have given this one quite a battering, even though it has over 70% at the tomato-meter at Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps they see it as too mushy or too sentimental, but Spielberg’s direction has given this film a wonderful spirit.

Verdict: War Horse may not be worthy of the best picture Oscar, but it is compelling, thrilling and worth catching on its DVD release despite its flaws.

Rating: 8/10


Extra Information
At IMDB
At RottenTomatoes
Age Certificate: 12a
Produced by: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy 
Budget: $66 Million
Based on: War Horse by Michale Morpurgo

4 comments:

  1. yeah really it was all the mini stories that saved the movie from being super bad in my opinion. but hey that's just me. very good review thomas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would like to see this soon, preferably before Oscar time. great review as always!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I loved this film to death, and even though I gave it a perfect score (for being so personal to me), there were some flaws. The story you pointed out about Emilie and her grandfather was so much further explored in the book. In fact, it was only them and Captain Nicholls and Maj. Stewart who were touched by Joey. Without Emilie and her grandfather, the end wouldn't have worked...but I do agree that they seemed like they could have been taken out. Also, the Grandfather said something so nice at the end of the book that wasn't in the movie, which I was kinda peeved about.

    Otherwise, I'm glad you liked it! And nice review!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Of course it wouldn't have worked very well, but I felt it dragged away attention due to how late they came into the film. regardless, a very adventurous and exciting film.
    Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete

 

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