Newest Review: ... In the film of War Horse his role was Albert's father. Extra information: The DVD of War Horse lasts about 140 minutes. The language... more
It's a 'Nay' from me....
War Horse (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
War Horse (DVD)
Date: 12/11/12, updated on 15/11/12 (46 review reads)
Advantages: Looks good
Disadvantages: Boring at times and too long
Genre - Drama
Certificate - 12a
Run Time - 146 minutes
County - USA
Awards - Nominated for 6 Oscars
Amazon - £3.00 per night@blockbusters
Blockbusters - £7.00 DVD (£10.99 Blue Ray)
So, 'Warhorse', Steven Spielberg's latest big screen effort, based on the stage play and the 1982 children's book of the same name by writer Michael Morpurgo, looking at the significant role of horses in the military back in World War One, the British sending a mind boggling one million to the front with only an estimated 66,000 returning, the rest killed in action or ending up on the French dinner plate. A colossal 10 million horses were involved on all sides come November 11th, 1918, one for each man lost there.
The novel tells the fictional adventures of a heroic horse called Joey, recruited for both sides in the process, a stallion called Finders Key the star who plays Joey although the colt had to split his equity rates with 13 other horses that also played Joey. Finders Key is a proper movie star in his own right and also played Sea Biscuit, that the last horse movie to be nominated for an Oscar and similarly under rewarded as War Horse. 2012 also saw Spielberg get Oscar nominated for 'The Adventures of Tin Tin', and, like 2006, when he also had two films up for the coveted Golden Statue, Munich and The War of the Worlds remake, he came up empty. This years two efforts are the first time Steven Spielberg has experimented in digital film techniques, although claiming there are just three short scenes of CGI in War Horse, shot to protect the horses in the making of the film, a sort of subtle statement to somehow protect his integrity. But he did Oscar back in 1994 at his brilliant best when he had his first double entry in the Oscars with Jurassic Park and the brilliant Schindlers List, winning ten Oscars between them. Spielberg has won the coveted Best Directing Oscar twice from his impressive six nominations in that category.
Jeremy Irvine ... Albert Narracott
Peter Mullan ... Ted Narracott
Emily Watson ... Rose Narracott
Niels Arestrup ... Grandfather
David Thewlis ... Lyons
Celine Buckens as Emilie
Tom Hiddleston ... Capt. James Nicholls
Benedict Cumberbatch ... Maj. Jamie Stewart
Patrick Kennedy ... Lt. Charlie Waverly
Leonard Carow ... Pvt. Michael Schröder
David Kross ... Pvt. Günther Schröder
Matt Milne ... Andrew Easton
Eddie Marsan ... Sgt. Fry
Young Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) and his boozy old man (Peter Mullan) have gone to market to buy a sturdy plough horse for their Devon farm high on the moors. But after getting involved in a macho bidding pride war with their obnoxious landlord Lyons (David Thewlis), who leases the farm to them, Dad ends up buying a 30 guinea Bay horse thoroughbred, way over there budget and certainly not suited to ploughing.
Back home dad gets a telling off from younger wife Rosie (Emily Watson) and the farm could be lost because of the purchase. But Albert pleads with his sobered up old man to keep the horse and promises to break it in ready for turning over the field as stubborn as pop that must produce a crop to pay the rent. When word gets out about the plucky horse the village gathers around the field as the kid tries to get the blade to dig into the rocky ground, only to fall flat on his face. But there's a bond between the two and eventually the horse achieves the impossible and ploughs the field through a long night, much to the annoyance of the watching on Lyons, who wants the Narracott's to fail so he can claim back the farm and tenancy.
But war is upon us and dad needs the money to pay the rent after a storm washes out their crop, so he sells Joey at the market to the army, much to the pain of his son. 30 guineas is agreed and the horse led away by likeable army officer Capt. James Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston), underage Albert demanding to be sign up for the army there and then to be with his beloved horse. But it's no deal and Capt. Nicholls and Joey soon in battle in lands afar, the two downed in a charge at an enemy encampment, Joey surviving and ending up in the German ranks, alongside another bigger black horse, Top Thorn, that he has befriended on the battlefield, no longer ridden by the now defeated unit leader Major. Jamie Stewart (Benedict Cumberbatch). Privates Michael Schröder (Leonard Carow) and Günther Schröder (David Kross) are now the keepers of Joey and Top Thorn in the chaos of war.
By now Albert is of age and muddy and terrified deep in the British trenches alongside his best mate Andrew (Matt Milne) from their home Devon village, keeping local men together the best way to get them to go to war back then. But trench war is terrible and they have to go over the top, a Saving Private Ryan style slaughter flowing in the rain of shells and bullets. But amongst the chaos of the war sweeps a horse, constantly making a bid for freedom from the noise and that chaos, but this no ordinary horse. The question now is will either of them survive the war to be together again, both unaware of each fete.
I'm afraid to say my favorite director is losing his touch and the magic just wasn't there in a rather bloated War Horse, dare I say a donkey and a rather dull Oscar chasing 146 minutes from the great man. The film didn't produce a wow moment like that flying bike did in E.T or the moment we first see the spaceship in Close Encounters and the whole film just became a drag over those two-and-a-half-hours. Ok, I'm not an animal lover and so didn't connect with the horse's plight amongst the terror of war and the comradeship with the other horse, and so no tears when demanded by the director.
It's too slow to get going and far too clean and pithy as the Narracott's farmhouse to be realistic, the melodramatic and relentless theme music the worse ever in a Spielberg movie. Even the Germans are likeably as they speak perfect Oxbridge - English amongst the mud and death all around them in the trenches, in the way Jude Law going up against Ed Harris didn't really work in the equally sterilized Enemy of the Gates. Spielberg tried to paint his serene and innocent characters on a grim world that they wouldn't work in, simple as. The box-office is pretty revealing on that in that its $66 million budget is pretty low for such a director making an Oscar chasing movie and it made just $177m back, which seems a healthy return but once you deduct the marketing and promotion cost from the Dream Works Studio it probably was not considered a financial hit.
The acting is safely sanitized for a younger audience and Emily Watson (not Emma Watson from Harry P) must be rather affronted to play wifey to the 65-year-old haggard looking Harry Mullen character in the film. Heartthrob Jeremy Irvine plays the extremely polite and pious teen idol and its almost as if Spielberg believes British people really are their polite and decent stiff upper lip stereotype Americans believe we are, not a swear word in the film. That ambiguity took away too much for me. If you want me to pull for the hero then this was not the way to do it guys. I just wasn't emotionally involved enough to care for the horses plight. No one is alive from the Great War now and people don't really relate to it the way they once did. And what about all those soldiers killed, Steven? Can you make a serious 12a war movie? War Horse is more cartoon territory and perhaps the way to go if this was meant for kids. What we have here is an adult themed film made from a kid's book and that never works and maybe a bit of Tin Tin here in that cross over. I suspect Spielberg made a studio movie he didn't really want to make but there was nothing else around he fancied doing so went ahead with it anyway.
Imdb.com - 7.2/10.0 (57,345 votes)
Metacritc.com - 72 % critics' approval
Rottentomatos.com - 77 critic's approval
The Guardian - 'War Horse is a pre-packaged brand, rather than a movie'.
Film4 - 'If it doesn't quite manage to tap the well of emotion that this type of film aims to access, it's because of problems inherent to the basic pitch, rather than the execution'.
The Times - '"How Green Was My Valley, How Smart Was My Horse."
The New Yorker - 'We never ask why the production is devoted to an animal while ten million men are dying, but when Spielberg does the story realistically, it seems trivial, even a little daft.
Movie.com - 'What is a simple, World War I-era tale of a boy and his horse on the page and stage becomes bloated in Spielberg & Co.'s hands'.
Summary: Movie for the masses