Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Film Review: WAR HORSE (2011)

War Horse - poster Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers (Screenplay): Lee Hall & Richard Curtis
Writer (Novel): Michael Morpurgo
Running time: 146 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

Genre: Drama/History/War
UK Release date: 13th January 2012

Watched at the cinema Tuesday 17th January 2012.


Ever since I first saw ‘Jaws’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and E.T.’ I have been a fan of the work of Steven Spielberg. He is an excellent storyteller and I love the look and feel of his films, particularly those made for a broader audience. After the disappointment I felt after seeing ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ (I hadn’t seen ‘The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn’ at the time of writing so couldn’t comment on that one), it was with a little trepidation that I entered the cinema to see his latest offering. I shouldn’t have worried; the critics had given it a warm reception and I have to say they were right. With ‘War Horse’ Spielberg hits all the right notes! I will give you my thoughts on it after this brief summary.

War Horse - 4 We start before the outbreak of World War I, young Albert lives with his parents Ted and Rose on a small farm on Dartmoor (that’s in Devon, England for those that don’t know). Ted has always been a drinker and one day he comes back from the local horse auction with a thoroughbred colt. Rose is not best pleased but Albert promises to break him and that he will even get him to plough their field. This he does, but as war breaks out Ted has to sell the horse, called Joey by the way, to the army. Albert is heartbroken not only because he is losing his beloved horse, but also because he’s too young to volunteer so he can be with him. He vows that they will be together again as they part company. We now follow Joey and his trials and tribulations in the war. He ends up seeing things from both the British and German side and even spends some time in the care of some French civilians. I will not say any more here because I really don’t want to give the game away… or have the Spoiler Police riding after me again.

War Horse - 3 Beautifully shot with some quite stunning scenes; I really love the cinematography on this one. This is all backed up with a really great score by John Williams, he has collaborated with Spielberg for many years and I think this is one of his finest pieces of work to date. As for performances, well nobody put a foot wrong; Jeremy Irvine did a great job as Albert Narracott, as did Peter Mullan as Ted and Emily Watson as Rose. Also worthy of note were Niels Arestrup as Grandfather, David Thewlis as Lyons, Tom Hiddleston as Captain Nicholls, Benedict Cumberbatch as Maj. Jamie Stewart and Celine Buckens as Emilie. Finally, of course, I cannot end this section without a mention for the horses that portrayed Joey in the movie; they all did a tremendous job, as did their trainers.

War Horse - 5 Before seeing this film I had talked to several people about it; many of which stated that they couldn’t watch a film like that in the cinema, it would be too upsetting. I admit, yes, there are some upsetting moments in the film, but I didn’t find it all that bad. I may have reacted differently watching it at home alone, but I don’t think that would have affected my enjoyment of it in any way. There are many plusses in this film that outweigh the few minuses; yes, it’s a bit on the sentimental side, but it’s still a beautifully made sprawling epic and well worth a look (IMO)… Recommended.

My score: 8.6/10.

IMDb Score: 7.4/10 (based on 9,616 votes when this review was written).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 78/100 (based on 188 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 76/100 (based on 23,610 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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Albert Narracott: We will be together again.

Major Jamie Stewart: Gentlemen, it is an honor to ride beside you. Make the Kaiser rue the day he crossed swords with us. Let every man do himself, his King, his country, and his fallen comrades proud. Be brave.

Grandfather: Can you imagine flying over a war and you know you can never look down? You have to look forward, or you'll never get home. What could be braver than that?

War Horse - 1 LINKS:
(Note: All were working at the time of going to press)
Official Site:

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