War Horse

"Very Good"

War Horse Review


Spielberg takes the hit stage play (based on the Michael Morpugo novel) to the big screen with guns blazing, not only recapturing the heart-stopping urgency of war, but also cranking up the emotion exponentially.

In early 1900s Devon, teenager Albert (Irvine) lives on a farm with his impulsive-drunk father Ted (Mullan) and his tough-minded mum Rose (Watson).

When Ted overpays for the wrong horse to work the fields, Albert adopts the horse, names him Joey and teaches him the ropes. But when war breaks out in Europe, Ted sells Joey to a cavalry captain (Hiddleston). At war, Joey changes hands between British and German officers, a young soldier (Kross) and a French farmer (Arestrup). Meanwhile, Albert joins the army, heading into the trenches to search for Joey.

While the play is a wonder of imaginative theatre, Spielberg is limited by cinematic realism. Not that it's terribly realistic, with chocolate-box England picture-perfect France (also shot in England). The gruelling Somme wasteland is recreated almost as a fantasy sequence, while the epilogue is shot under an orange sky that echoes Gone With the Wind. But Joey's journey is still the emotional core, as he meets a variety of people ane even befriends another horse, Topthorn.

This certainly isn't Spielberg's subtlest film. His direction overstates every emotion with the help of John Williams' soaring score. As the cast members are swept up into Spielberg's earnest style, only Watson keeps her feet grounded in wry honesty. The battlefield sequences couldn't be any more intense, but they're assembled with invention and skill to make us feel the horrific situation. And the extensive effects work is remarkably seamless.

In the end, there isn't much more to this than a boy and his horse, separated by what was at the time (and might still be) the most unthinkable event in human history. Every element works to draw out our emotional response to the twists and turns of the plot and the wide range of characters. And it's a moment later on, when two soldiers from opposite sides of the war work together to help a horse in distress, that lowers our guard for a series of emotional gut-punches that follow. It may be contrived and sappy, but Spielberg knows how to make it work.



War Horse

Facts and Figures

Run time: 146 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 25th December 2011

Box Office USA: $79.9M

Box Office Worldwide: $177M

Budget: $66M

Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures

Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG, Reliance Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, Kennedy/Marshall Company, The

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 164 Rotten: 49

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Capt. James Nicholls, as Maj. Jamie Stewart, as Geordie Soldier, as Rose Narracott, as Albert Narracott, Patrick Kennedy as Lt. Charlier Waverly, as Lyons, as Ted Narracott, as Pvt. Günther Schröder, as Friedrich, as Base Camp Officer, as Sgt. Fry, Celine Buckens as Emilie, as Gunther, as Andrew Easton, as David Lyons, as Brandt, as Sgt. Sam Perkins, Tony Pitts as Sgt. Martin, Irfan Hussein as Sgt. Maj. Singh, Pip Torrens as Maj. Tompkins

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

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....

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.