Cert: 12A Runtime: 146 mins Director: Stephen Spielberg Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddelstone, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Kross and Eddie Marsan
Separated by war. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship
Animal films are not my cup of tea, after seeing trailers for War Horse I had no interest in this film. The only thing that made me watch this film was Stephen Spielberg, this man can make films into magic. The film starts in Dartmoor,1914: To his wife’s dismay farmer Narracott buys a thoroughbred horse rather than a plough animal but his teenaged son Albert trains the horse and calls him Joey,the two becoming inseparable. When his harvest fails the farmer has to sell Joey to the British cavalry and he is shipped to France where,after a disastrous offensive he is captured by the Germans and changes hands twice more before he is found,caught in the barbed wire in No Man’s Land four years later and freed,due to a bizarre truce. He is returned behind British lines where Albert,now a private,has been temporarily blinded by gas but still recognises his beloved Joey. However as the Armistice is declared Joey is set to be auctioned off. After all they have been through will Albert and Joey return home together?
This film is sappy, cheesily sentimental, and clichéd war film. When the film came out and started gaining Oscar buzz in the major categories, I was surprised and wondered… why? The reviews were also mostly positive, but I was still not convinced that I would like this. Yes, War Horse is sentimental, it’s everything you would expect. This isn’t an original film, but still, sometimes sentimentality works, but not here. From the get-go, you know what the film is trying to do, and that’s pretty much all it has going for it. It feels like brainwash in an odd way. I started gaining hope at the 45 minute mark, as to maybe this could turn out differently. I started liking it more when the horse goes into it’s first soldiers, but that didn’t last long. The horse goes to different people, and all these people feel attached to it. The worse of these characters is of course, a young girl and her grandfather. The writing doesn’t become more apparently bad than here. But it’s not just that the film is sentimental and that that’s all it tries to do, the dialogue is just atrocious in this section.I am a big Spielberg fan. I do like his films a lot, like Jaws and Schindler’s List,Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park has. But I have never seen a film of his to be this sloppy. The negative reviews have already stated the obvious in this film, all of the sugary aspects and the sweetness trying to pour itself into the viewer, but what I had not seen addressed is how badly-constructed this is. Maybe it’s the script’s fault, but the editing is one of its worst aspects, if not its worst. In no time does it let you even absorb what is going on, and some of the editing in scenes is just awkward. Then again, maybe it was the script’s fault, which is honestly one of the worst scripts of the year.
Technically as to how it looks, it looks okay. Despite what many may say about it technically, it isn’t even anything brilliant. The cinematography is just sort of “there”. I mean, it has the impressive landscape shots you expect, and the last few scenes of the film are really beautiful to look at, but in no way do they rise above superficiality. The camera-work isn’t anything impressive because the director of photography never really does anything. Cinematography isn’t just beautiful landscape shots, but the way you handle the camera angles, where the camera is placed, and everything related to the lens, coloring, and framing. The film never does anything worthwhile with the way it’s shot, which is really disappointing because even I, who had no real expectations to like the film, was expecting some great cinematography at least. The music score is also so very predictable. No piece of the music stands out. Nothing remotely interesting about it. The only really great aspect of the film is the art direction, because you can really tell how much they worked on it, and it really is to be congratulated. So, ultimately, this isn’t a good film at all. I do not recommend it, because I didn’t find it all that touching, and it also is so predictable and obvious in its attempt. But besides those obvious flaws, the film is also very sloppy and messy. No real character development, no real true character motivation. The most at fault here is the screenwriter and the editor, although it’s hard to put so much blame on the editor when he had to work with a script like this. Saying all of this, I actually don’t hate this film. I expected to hate it even more, but I simply can’t. The only truly great scene here is the horse run through the trenches, but this is just not even a mediocre film. It’s so weak, and did I mention so… dull. I can’t even count how many times I sighed and was constantly trying to keep myself awake. One of the weakest films of 2012, 4.8/10