War Horse

Would you like to play spot-the-actor? Then by all means, watch War Horse…

War Horse is Steven Spielberg’s film version of the Michael Morpurgo novel that was turned into an award-winning stage play. It follows one horse (duh) called Joey who is raised by a young farm boy called Albert (Jeremy Irvine – sporting an outrageous ‘Devon’ accent). Slowly, the two become inseparable from each other. But when the war starts Albert’s father (Peter Mullan – who else to play a conflicted evil man?) sells Joey the horse to make ends meet on the farm. Albert vows he will be reunited with Joey some day though…

Cue a million and one different stories about how this “miracle horse” goes from person to person and affects them all in one way or another. So far, so Black Beauty.

Like I said before, there’s a billion blink-and-you’ll-miss-em cameos of actors from all over the globe. This is one of the big problems with the film though: because the time spent between each of the characters is so brief, you don’t feel connected to them AT ALL. Even Albert feels underused and he’s the bloody main character in it.

One of the better parts of the film is when the horse first goes off to war when he’s bought by posh soldier Tom Hiddleston. The scenes here when they finally start the fighting are expertly shot, especially the initial charge of the cavalry, but again it is all too brief. And Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch (as a v posh Major with a moustache) are incredibly underused for these scenes as well. As is Niels Arestrup (from A Prophet) in another of the films better stories about a Grandfather looking after his Granddaughter in France as they try to avoid the war.

And another of the big problems with the film is the fact that it gets steadily more and more ridiculous. It becomes unintentionally laugh out loud stupid at times (especially when more than once people risk their own lives to save a freaking horse – or am I just very unsentimental?). And is the film sad? Occasionally it’ll make you well up but most of the time you couldn’t give one about any of the characters because you’ve barely seen them for five minutes.

Steven Spielberg is normally good at this sort of thing, but this time the mark is well and truly missed on more than one count. War Horse is definitely one that you can do without seeing. And why it’s up for a Best Picture Oscar absolutely beggars belief.

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~ by square-eyed-geek on January 27, 2012.

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