War Horse (Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson) : Movie Review
It’s the years before World War One, and there’s trouble on Narracott farm.
The man of the house has spent all their money on a high-spirited horse that looks good but is in no way suited to heavy farm labour, and it’s up to the son Albert (Jeremy Irvine) to figure out a way to break the horse in without making him useless.
Considering this film goes for well over two hours and is called War Horse, it’s safe to assume he manages it; it’s also safe to assume that when the war comes the horse will be called up for duty – breaking the son’s heart, as he’s too young to serve and only officers get horses as fine as his anyway – and from there the horse goes on a series of adventures on both sides of the front line that hark back to the glory days of emotionally manipulative story-telling.
There are horrors of war here but they’re largely glossed over (people die off camera and there’s loads of mud but not much blood) in favour of horse acting that actually serves to distance you from his’ plight.
The horse knows how to pull a load from his farm days, so when his German captors plan to kill him (and his horse best friend – yes, he has a best friend) he know how to show the others what to do to avoid death.
We’re not exactly talking Lassie telling everyone that Timmy’s trapped down the well but it’s further down that path than many of us have been in a long time, and if your tolerance for that kind of thing is low then the extremely sappy human subplots (the horse helps sickly orphans and brothers trying to escape the horrors of war, amongst others) aren’t going to improve matters.
But this is Steven Spielberg and he does know how to tell a story, so while this clearly isn’t for everyone – or anyone who isn’t either horse obsessed or a fan of young adult literature – it’s hardly a failure.
It’s just blatantly manipulative without a lick of shame.
Want to know why? Then let Spielberg explain for himself in the Q & A video below…
WATCH OUT FOR | RATING : 3.5 OUT OF 5