The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

"Good"

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep Review


It has to be the most incongruous concept for a family film ever. Take the myth of the Loch Ness monster, marry it to a near note-for-note take on E.T., and pepper the entire thing with a World War II era British boy's adventure tale. Add in the millennium-mandated CGI, some standard kid vid slapstick, and an ending that sees both Das Boot and Free Willy inadvertently referenced, and you've got Jay Russell's incredibly surreal The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. While this cobbled together effort offers some intriguing ideas, things get messy quickly, and quite often.

It's the mid-point of WWII, and the household staff of a massive Scottish manor is taken aback by the arrival of an entire English battalion. They are there, on express permission of the owner, to guard the local lake and prevent German U-boats from advancing on UK positions. Among the servant family affected are head housekeeper Anne MacMarrow (Emily Watson), and her children Kristie and little Angus (Alex Etel). She's already suffered a wartime loss, and doesn't want her children harmed further. Into their life come two distinct beings. One is new handyman Lewis Mowbray (Ben Chaplin). The other is a baby "water horse" -- a mythic creature that takes an instant liking to Angus. While he tries to protect the beast, the forces of war threaten everyone -- and everything -- on the estate.

It's difficult to say what finally undermines The Water Horse. It could be the sappy way in which director Russell demands the imaginary beast mug for the camera. Thanks to (or because of) the growing intricacy of computer generated animation, this little monster can be funny, pathetic, angry, and overly cartoony. We know that others in the film react to it with fear or disgust, but the movie keeps making it cutesy and cuddly, even when it turns into a three ton behemoth. Worse still, little Alex Etel is quite annoying as Angus. Drawn from the standard cinematic school that "obstinate equals adorable", this self-centered sprite causes more trouble for his family (and the entire British military, for that fact) that any Nazi invader.

On the plus side, Emily Watson radiates the proper 1940s feeling of loss and diminished hope. Her scenes with main army man David Morrissey (as a by the book officer named Captain Hamilton) have a subtle charm, and her equally effective moments with Chaplin are warm and winning. As Mowbray, the established UK thespian represents the most complex and concerning The Water Horse ever gets. While everyone believes him to be a deserter, the audience is privy to a physical fact that countermands all the low talk and innuendo. It's just too bad the animated monster keeps getting in the way. The Water Horse frequently feels like a proper Merchant-Ivory production overrun by refugees from Disney's Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend.

Russell does try to keep things light and airy, never letting the turmoil overtaking Europe damper his film's flights of fancy. And the last act showdown between the animal, some depth charges, and a pursuing PT boat crackle with action film professionalism. But getting to this point takes a lot of surreal side trips down some unusual (and downright contradictory) plot paths. The Water Horse: The Legend the Deep is not a bad film, just a very confused one. Had it settled on a single approach, it could have been a classic. Instead, the clashing elements lead to an intriguing if incomplete experience.

Son of Seabiscuit.



Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Wednesday 12th December 2007

Box Office Worldwide: $103.1M

Budget: $45M

Production compaines: Revolution Studios, Walden Media, Beacon Pictures, Ecosse Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , Robert Bernstein

Starring: as Angus MacMorrow, as Anne MacMorrow, as Lewis Mowbray, as Captain Thomas Hamilton, Priyanka Xi as Kirstie MacMorrow, as Charlie MacMorrow, as Old Angus, Erroll Shand as Lt. Wormsley, as Sgnt. Walker, Bruce Allpress as Jock McGowan, Geraldine Brophy as Gracie, Eddie Campbell as Hughie, Peter Corrigan as Jimmy's Buddy #1, Carl Dixon as Gunner Corbin, Nathan Christopher Haase as Male Tourist, Ian Harcourt as Jimmy McGarry, Rex Hurst as Jimmy's Buddy #2, Megan Katherine as Female Tourist, Elliot Lawless as Beach Kid, William Johnson as Clyde

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

Ice Age: Collision Course Movie Review

With its fifth feature-length adventure, this franchise continues its preposterous journey at full tilt. As...

Keanu Movie Review

Keanu Movie Review

An entertaining hybrid of satirical comedy and action thriller, this madcap adventure swerves wildly between...

Ghostbusters Movie Review

Ghostbusters Movie Review

It's been more than 30 years since the Ghostbusters first hit the big screen with...

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

Now You See Me 2 Movie Review

While the original 2013 magical caper was a big hit, it's style-over-substance approach didn't exactly...

Advertisement
The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

The Legend of Tarzan Movie Review

It's been nearly 30 years since the last live-action Tarzan movie, and yet it still...

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

Maggie's Plan Movie Review

A New York comedy with vivid characters and a contrived plot, this feels rather a...

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Movie Review

Nearly 25 years after the sitcom debuted, Edina and Patsy arrive on the big screen...

Central Intelligence Movie Review

Central Intelligence Movie Review

After teaming up with Will Ferrell for Get Hard and Ice Cube for two Ride...

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

The Colony [Colonia] Movie Review

Based on a true story, this Chilean drama has a chilling edge to it that's...

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Independence Day: Resurgence Movie Review

Two decades is a long time to wait for a sequel, especially one starring much...

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

Elvis & Nixon Movie Review

This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.