Film Review: War Horse – As Exciting As A Steeplechase, As Heartwarming As A Glue Factory
By Grace Cook on January 18, 2012 in Film
Steven Spielberg is a cinematic genius. Ergo, his entire catalogue of films is sure to be just as incredible, right? After viewing Spielberg’s latest addition to the collection, War Horse, I for one am not too sure…
Adapted from Michael McGurpo’s novel, War Horse follows the relationship between Albert Narracott, a Devonshire farmer’s boy, and Joey, the thoroughbred he raised from youth. With his father, Ted Narracott (Peter Mullan) in financial crisis, Ted is forced to sell Joey to the British Army when the war comes to town, and so the relationship is temporarily severed.
What ensues is Joey’s struggle through war; being passed between the Germans, the French and the British, and eventually ending tangled in barbed wire in No Man’s Land. Albert (Jeremy Irvine) enlists in the army, and the pair are reunited in the trenches, eventually returning home to Devon together with the backdrop of a ridiculously orange sunset.
The story itself has all the key aspects of a wonderful children’s story; love, friendship, loyalty and faith. But somehow the film lacks in any real emotion. The war-time visuals are admittedly incredible, and the scene when Joey is galloping through No Man’s Land successfully portrayed him as a fearless hero. In fact, the Hollywood horse’s performance was by far the best in the entire film. However, the film seemed a little staged and it seems Spielberg failed to really sink his teeth into the story as it was, to say the least, a little flat.
Throughout my viewing, I kept thinking that I should be empathising more with the characters of Albert and Joey, and their reunion in the trenches and their arrival back on the farm was definitely not benchmarked with tears. Nevertheless, set against a backdrop of a quintessential English countryside and with scenes of pastoral France, it was a ‘nice’ film to watch.
The hype surrounding War Horse seems to have done Spielberg an injustice; I arrived at Tyneside expecting to be blown away, but left feeling like I had seen a relatively enjoyable, if forgettable, film. Spielberg, this is not your finest moment.
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