Posted by: greercn | January 18, 2012

War Horse

Boy meets horse. Boy loves horse. Boy loses horse. War is hell. Will boy get horse back?

Boy, is it easy to be cynical about this piece of sentimental soppiness. And yet, there is a real allure here for anyone who ever loved a horse – and ascribed thoughts and feelings to it, in the Disney style.

For those who have grown up with Uncle Walt’s speaking creatures and Steven Spielberg’s blockbusters, this will be the perfect match. Caring about horses will make you give this a big thumbs up, too.

It’s an engaging story, from the novel by Michael Morpurgo and then adapted from a grand and inventive play.

You start out in Devon which looks absolutely gorgeous and sun-kissed, here. Even rain is beautiful and glows, with that special Spielberg fairy dust.

Yes, you might notice that the accents are a little all over the place, but you put this churlish thought right out of your mind.

Then, you are off to World War I and you rush headlong, from idyll into nightmare. Hardly anyone does enormous set piece war scenes on the scale of Spielberg’s war sets and this really is “Saving Private Ryan” on steroids with more horses, people, guns and – well, just MORE of everything.

Real war isn’t nearly as airbrushed and manicured as this, but I hope that the noise and hugeness of this is the closest I ever get to the real thing. 

It’s too long. At nearly two and a half hours, I was enthralled, but snuck in a couple of looks at my watch.

The friend I saw this with likes the whole “War Horse” story way more than I do, but that worked well to get me feeling a bit more enthusiastic about it than I would have been, otherwise.

I can see why it’s topping the box office as it’s the ideal remedy for recession-hit times in that it has many feel good moments.

For all the schmaltz, there are great things to see here. It’s all driven by super visuals which will suck even cynics in.

Jeremy Irvine, Neils Arestrup and Celine Buckens give the best performances, although Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston are also quite affecting.

The real star is the gorgeous stallion, who leads a cast in which the people are outnumbered by fabulous horses.

Do see it, because it’s a great movie. Leave your doubts at the door.

The sparse but enthusiastic Stratford Picturehouse audience loved it, to the extent that they did not seem to be playing on their phones, at all, through the whole thing. Sniff, snuffle. It’s really very beautiful.


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