Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, AI) is having a strong run with two movies on at cinemas at the moment. There’s the wonderfully enjoyable The Adventures of Tin Tin and the more serious epic War Horse.
Set during World War 1, War Horse tells the story of Albert (Jeremy Irvine) who enlists in the army after Joey (played by 6 different horses apparently), the horse he raised and loves, is commandeered by the cavalry. We follow the fortunes of both Albert and Joey as their journeys separate and cross in what, for the most part, is an exciting and sobering portrayal of the effects of war on both human and horse along the Western Front.
War Horse is classic epic story telling by a master of the art. Unfortunately, the quality of the film is undermined by the beginning and end of the story which comes across as cheesy and overacted. Apart from two memorable scenes – one of Joey running riderless through “no man’s land” and becoming entangled in barbed wire; and another near the beginning of the movie, where Albert has to entice Joey to plough a field – most of the film is simplistic – possibly the result of trying to make the movie straddle the whole family as its audience.
The actors do a worthy job but the real winners in this movie are the horses that portray Joey. I heard an interview with their trainer who stated that managing a horse, in a movie, without a rider is a particularly difficult challenge. For me, the horse was the most believable and enjoyable part of the movie.
War Horse is definitely not up with the best of Spielberg’s movies.
You will probably like War Horse if you liked The Black Stallion; Empire of the Sun; Saving Private Ryan
'There isn't a moment in the movie where you don't feel Spielberg's passion, and this time, the film is worthy of his enthusiasm. It's a knockout.' – Rene Rodriguez/Miami Herald
'Director Steven Spielberg doesn't have a steady grip on War Horse's careening tone, but he'll be damned if there's not 15 minutes in there for everyone.’ – Amy Nicholson/Boxoffice Magazine
intense sequences of war violence and themes