Tuesday 8 May 2012

Today's Review: War Horse

Yes, I know, it's a movie about as horse, but why should dogs have all the fun? War Horse was already a well renowned stage play, but Spielberg decided to bring it to the unwashed masses of the cinema, so here we have the epic movie version.

War Horse follows Joey, a horse bought by a down on his luck farmer because he looks like a really nice horse. The farmer's son Albert (Jeremy Irvine) is also quite smitten, but instead of going all Equus he decides to train him and make him a useful and faithful work horse. But sadly the farm falls upon hard times, and Joey is sold to the war effort, with Albert being too young to join him. What follows is an epic journey for Joey, traversing war torn France and Germany, exchanging owners under several circumstances. But will he ever be reunited with Albert, and will he survive the war with all odds against him?

Yes, War Horse does indeed focus on Joey more than anyone else. Sure, there are some solid performances, especially from Irvine, Celine Buckens as a French girl who comes to find Joey, and a brief appearance from Benedict Cumberbatch. But what's really amazing about War Horse is the horses themselves. They're clearly well trained, leaping and running from place to place. It does seem like Spielberg is focusing perhaps a little too much on them though. Whenever something dramatic happens we get lingering shots of the horses' faces, as if waiting for an expression, but instead we're just met with a standard horse face. 

I guess this is the only problem with the movie in general. Our main character is a horse, and despite how well the training is, and how many dangerous situations Joey goes through, I just couldn't reach the same emotional connection with a horse as I could with a person. Perhaps I'm just strange, as people seem to go crazy over animal movies, but this is an epic war film, and the adventures of a horse just don't seem quite enough to carry a almost two and a half hour plot. Still, the human performances that are there are great. the battle scenes are very well done, and you can really get sucked into the whole thing. War Horse is a unique look at the drama of the first world war, seen through an unlikely pair of eyes, no blinkers included. 

My rating: 4/5

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