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“War Horse” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

December 16, 2011

Steven Spielberg is a master when it comes to historical dramas. Sometimes they can be grand, “Amistad”, others can be inspiring, “Empire of the Sun”, and others can be real personal, “Schindler’s List”. However, I feel that this particular film is truly his first historical epic. You have a movie that follows a noble steed, named Joey, during the midst of WWI, and how he affects the lives of others; French, English, & German alike. Both sides of the trenches, opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s quite beautiful.

Young Albert  (Jeremy Irvine) enlists in the service after his beloved stallion, Joey, is sold off to the British cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the conflict between nations rages on. Joey has a journey of his own, when he comes into contact with different people. A British Captain (Tom Hiddleston) who promised Albert he’d look after Joey, two young German brothers (David Kross, Leonhard Carow) escaping their battalion, a French girl (Celine Buckens) & her grandfather’s (Niels Arestrup) farm discover Joey, and ultimately leading Joey to the trenches of hell itself.

The movie is effective in the journey aspect. It’s as grand as any other historical epic, but maintains the strong personal story between a boy & an animal he cared so much for, raising him, and treating him like his equal. The performances throughout the film are top notch; the only ones that really didn’t wow me were Jeremy Irvine as Albert & the two German brothers. To me they seemed somewhat stale. The supporting players are fantastic though; Peter Mullen, Tom Hiddleston, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Emily Watson were superb; Mullen could get an Oscar nomination.

The cinematography is another star of the film, Spielberg’s long time DP, Janusz Kaminski, really captures the beauty of a world that’s at ties with one another. John Williams score is absolutely brilliant, probably some of his best work in the past few years, and that’s saying something, because…John Williams is the freaking man and Spielberg knows it.

I got this feeling that the movie was like the perfect combination of “The Black Stallion” meeting “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Let me just say this, for those who’re weary about seeing the movie, this is no “Saving Private Ryan”, yes it’s set during one of the greatest struggles the world had ever seen, but it’s more than that. It’s not bloody, gory, or extremely violent, there are a few battle sequences, but nothing that will scar anyone for life, this is a family film that I can assure you.

The movie may tend to over stay it’s welcome, by the time it’s clocking in at two hours and twenty-five minutes, but I give it a steady pass because the story is enthralling, captivating, and all around moving. Expect to be a little misty eyed by the third act, I sure as heck was.

GRADE: B+

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2011 3:47 pm

    B+? Not half bad. I cannot wait to see this, hope it’s as good as the trailer suggests!

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