DREAMWORKS PICTURES WAR HORSE
U.S. Release date: December 25, 2011
Running time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Cast: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
Executive Producers: Frank Marshall, Revel Guest
Screenplay by: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
Based on the book by: Michael Morpurgo and the recent stage play by Nick Stafford, originally produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot.
DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe 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.
The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. “War Horse” is one of the great stories of friendship and war— a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is currently on Broadway. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history.
What I loved:
Joey: Total star of the whole movie, the horse Joey is pretty impressive. While actually Joey is several different horses, they seamlessly come together to give a top notch performance by an animal in a movie. Growing up with a sister who LOVED horses, I have seen pretty much every horse movie out there. Joey, in my opinion, blows them all out of the water!
The cinematography. There were so many moments when I forgot I was in the theater. Spielberg has an amazing talent for making your feel like you are surrounded by the movie rather than sitting in it. The close ups were amazingly visual, but I also found my other senses involved in this movie. I swear I could smell the ground being turned up, the scent of the barn, and taste the gas in the air. I loved the way he played up certain sounds and reduced others. Many other directors would have not focused on the small details like this, but it was exactly what kept me so enthralled in the movie.
The actors. The casting in this film was perfect. Everyone who came into contact with Joey became someone you either loved or hated. You didn’t see their previous acting experience while watching the movie like you do with some actors, but rather I found myself solely focused on the characters telling this story. And boy, could you get anymore dough-eyed and fresh than Jeremy Irvine who played the movies leading actor Albert Naracott? He as so agreeable and believable on the screen. You watched him grow up in the story on screen and as he does I found myself hard-pressed not to involve my heart.
The Story. The story was a beautiful one that many will enjoy. I personally wouldn’t take any child younger than 12 (maybe 10 depending on the child) to this movie, but older children, couples, moms, dads, grandparents, families will really enjoy this movie. There is something for everyone. I cried, laughed (several times), smiled, gasped, and even held my breath at points in War Horse.
Speaking of holding my breath…
Things I didn’t love:
The age Issue. The balance between the story and the violence seemed a bit off to me. I felt like the tone of the movie during “non-violent” story was catered to a younger audience than should be watching the violent war scenes. I would have been less conflicted by this had the language and violence been more on the same level. I realize this movie was about WWI and I am not saying that there shouldn’t have been violence in it, but the tone in the beginning of the movie and the language during the less violent parts seemed very appropriate for a child as young as 7 or 8, but with the violence, I personally wouldn’t have taken a child younger than 10/12. As far as a war movie goes, I do think Spielberg did a very nice job of tastefully handling the war scenes.
Slow Beginning: This movie takes about 15 minutes to really fall into. I personally didn’t mind that too much, but you should be aware that it starts very slow.
I really did love this movie. My concern with the age issue are more of that as a parent than a movie goer. If you are looking for a movie that will have something for the whole family…
GO SEE WAR HORSE!!
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Disclosure: DreamWorks Pictures provided me with an early screening of this movie for the purpose of my review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% honest and my own, and I was not obligated to provide an positive review.