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War Horse (2011)
A very well-made film, but slightly flawed.
To begin, this film is beautiful. Every shot is so achingly gorgeous it lets me remember why I love Steven Spielberg. There are many classic Spielberg shots and lighting techniques that fans will recognize, especially during the battle sequences. In addition, the score is wonderful, and was one of my favorite parts of the movie.
As you probably already know, the story is told through the horse's (Joey's) eyes. He is raised from birth by a boy named Albert, is then sold to the British Army, and continues to be passed from one hand to the next. While the story flows well, and the transitions between vignettes are smoothly done, they don't leave much room for character development. Most notable is the story of the little French girl and her grandfather. Though I won't spoil it for anyone, I'll just say that it left me feeling unsatisfied, like the story hadn't gone anywhere.
If the characters had been better written, or had been given more time to develop, I would care more for them. This is where I think the movie fails. It spends all its time trying to make the audience care for its equestrian hero, but doesn't allow very well-developed human anchors.
That being said, there were moments that moved me. At several moments in the film, I thought about how I could see this being a Best Picture contender for this year's Academy Awards. It's a simply gorgeous movie, with enough scope and spectacle to satisfy anyone, but it left me feeling slightly underwhelmed.
A Stereotype Nightmare
I went to see this film at a midnight premier screening. I had seen previews for the movie, and honestly, I thought it looked pretty solid. Of course, I was expecting a standard summer action flick, but nothing like this.
From the get-go, I could tell this movie was not what I had thought it would be. It's filmed using a digital camera, which gives it a TV-like quality that I find distracting. With every shot, I was reminded that I was sitting in a movie theater. Johann Schmidt's introductory scene was overly theatrical and cliché-ridden.
I'll say this about Captain America: apart from the camera-work and Johann Schmidt's intro scene, it started off well. The characters were well established, and Steve Rogers was very well written.
However, the moment Stanley Tucci's character appeared on screen, it started to feel wrong. His accent was so stereotypically "old German scientist" that I found myself smiling whenever he spoke.
This is around the time that we're introduced to the other characters: Colonel Phillips and Peggy Carter. Both are just more stereotypes added to the mix. Phillips is the grumpy and pessimistic army man, and Peggy is the cliché "strong government woman". Neither of them ever move more than an inch from their carefully enforced character cubbyholes.
The action scenes, while sometimes entertaining, are, once again, cliché-ridden. Steve Rogers' first fight as a superhuman has him jumping on top of a car and being shot at through the roof. Sound familiar? It's been in loads of action movies, and it's just one of the action clichés in this film.
Later in the movie, one of the characters dies. Within one scene, I had forgotten who had died and why everyone was so somber. That is not a good thing.
Finally, during the final battle between the Cap and Red Skull, I found myself looking away from the screen, hands on my face, realizing I didn't care at all about who won. I didn't care if Red Skull defeated the Cap and took over the world, because, quite frankly, the villain is too evil and too unrealistic to be believable.
For all the film's flaws, though, it's well-acted. Chris Evans does a great job, as does Hayley Atwell. I just wish the characters had been written better to allow these actors to really explore their roles. They feel caged.
All in all, this film felt like it was made simply to get the Avengers moving along. They rushed it. The characters are too simple. Steve Rogers/Captain America has no character flaws, which makes it difficult to connect with him. He's too perfect. And the action isn't worth seeing.
Skip this movie. Go out and watch an Army recruiting commercial. You'll find it's more entertaining than this garbage.
An extremely well-made movie. Don't listen to the haters.
I can remember back months before this movie came out, watching the teaser trailer for this film for the first time. The sense of foreboding and mystery I felt watching the trailer was the same as when I watched the film in the theater. It is an excellently-made movie.
Although it starts off a little slow (with introducing the characters and their relationships), when the action kicks in, it doesn't stop. There are maybe 6-7 minutes where there is not some kind of thrilling event happening. The relationship between the characters Rob and Beth is palpable, as is the chemistry between all the actors.
Pros: -Many thrills -Surprisingly good acting for a 'no-name' cast -Great story -Convincing special effects
Cons: -The shaky camera may be nauseating to some people -The acting in some scenes could be a little better -If you are someone who likes for all the loose ends to be tied up at the end, this is not for you
Overall, I give this movie 8 out of 10 stars. I love it, and it is in my top 10 favorite movies. It always will be. I highly recommend watching this on a large screen, with the sound turned up loud for maximum enjoyment.