Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Review: War Horse

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

War Horse poster

War Horse
146 mins / Dir. Steven Spielberg

So I took a chance, and braved the crowds to see Mr Spielberg's latest offering. And crowds, there were. Thankfully, the main target demographic of War Horse is grown ups, and although the screen was 4/5 full, everyone managed to concentrate on the film and not dick about on their phones. I could have hugged them for that.

So, anyway. War Horse. I'm pretty sure I enjoyed it...

The Plot: Witnessing the birth of a foal on his father's farm on Dartmoor, a boy begins a unique friendship that will define who they both are, as well as touching the lives of all around them. The film tracks an incredible journey of determination, skill and flat-out luck.

The Good: Despite what I'm going to mention in the next sections, I did enjoy War Horse. All of the cast are on great form (including the titular Ian Horse). It's beautifully shot (for the most part) and scripted, with the real standout segment for me being in the trenches of The Somme. Despite its length, each segment is paced well, and they're tied together with a score that's unmistakably John Williams.
I'd thought this was going to be hard work, but given the subject matter, it's very watchable.

The Bad: It's probably a bit too long. And a bit too mawkish. And I could have done without the humour that was scattered around occasionally. The emotional payoffs are in the right place, but as a viewer you really have to work for them. Towards the end of the film where Albert calls to Joey*1 with his owl-whistle, the callback is so forced that you expect someone to walk on-screen with a sign saying "Do you remember that? From earlier?". In other places, the horses (plural) are anthropomorphised to the point where it's almost a Disney film. Thankfully those moments are few and far between, but they are there.

The Ugly: ...can we really only like Ze Germans when they're "being nice to animals"? The first World War was a fucking atrocity for all concerned. I'm not saying everyone on both sides was a really lovely person, but considering the message of the film is that the horse didn't choose sides, he chose friends, it seems a bit late in the day to still be banging on about The Evil Hun.
Oh, and you don't get orange sunsets like that on Dartmoor. I've been there.

All in All: Don't let that put you off, though. If you think this might be your thing, it probably is. You may have a bit of trouble suspending your disbelief for two and a half hours, but it's the themes that are important, not the details.
The cynic in me thinks that it's a little too knowingly worthy to be deserving of the awards it'll no doubt receive, but it's still a good film, nonetheless.


Final thought: Cry for the men that died, not the horses. They didn't want to be there, either.

*1 I know. How PC is that? Calling a horse Joey. In that accent Devonshire as well. They take the piss out of him for the whole film...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. Steven Spielberg as always rocked the Hollywood once again. M sure that it is going to pull a huge crowd towards theaters. And what a performance by Jeremy Irvine!!! Oh my god.......Hats off to the genius. He deserves doctorate degree for this act in the movie.