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Brown Beauty
dharmendrasingh23 January 2012
Spielberg's film is his vision of Michael Morpurgo's beloved book, which must surely now be essential reading for all kids, if it wasn't before.

Superficially it's about a horse named Joey and a boy called Albert, who become inseparable through a series of unfortunate events – World War I being one of them. A closer look reveals a story of such overwhelming humanity that I was bowled over. Spielberg was the only director for this film because he knows what it means to be a child.

Whether or not it is apparent in the book, there's no doubt this is a war film, one that ranks with Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Schindler's List'. Emily Watson's character utters a line about the refusal of being proud of killing, which is the line one might use to summarise the film's point. Because Spielberg is Jewish, this line is pregnant with meaning. It's his noble way of saying that, despite the suffering received by his kin, he is willing to forgive their oppressors.

There's a scene where Joey is trapped by barbed-wire in no man's land and is freed by the combined effort of an Englishman and a German, who put aside their differences under the name of human decency. The scene is breathtaking, and it's the sort which no-one does better than Spielberg.

Long-time collaborator John Williams provides a moving score, regardless of its resemblance to the one he composed for 'Saving Private Ryan'. Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski reminds us of the beauty of our rural regions by photographing the Devonshire countryside with reverence.

Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Niels Arestrup and Tom Hiddleston form the principal cast and are wonderful. Nothing could have prepared me for how much I'd be moved. There's no reason why you won't be.

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Horses fought too.
PWNYCNY17 January 2012
I was expecting this movie to be just another extravagant sentimental potboiler. Wow, was I surprised. This is a great movie. The title says the movie is about a horse, but it's really about a lot more than that. The horse plays a central role but the humans figure in the story too, in a big way. The cinematography is outstanding; it really conveys the bleak, gory nature of war. The movie alludes to the Battle of the Somme which is one of the costliest battles in history in terms of the sheer number of lives lost. At times the movie does lapse into sentimentality but in general the story proceeds at a fast pace (pun intended). The performances of the horses in this movie are impressive. They are stars in their own right. If the movie accomplishes nothing else, it shows that war is hard on animals too, and like the humans, they are victims too; there was never a horse that wanted to go to war. That any horses survived at all in the war is amazing. Anyway, this movie is well worth watching.
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With War Horse the usual bloodbath and gory murder scenes are ditched in favour of a genuine story that manages to provoke passion and deep emotion in the audience
the_upcoming21 December 2011
When it was announced that Steven Spielberg was directing a film adaptation of War Horse, fans across the UK were a little apprehensive.

After all, the stage play and book were massive hits, so the film would have a lot to live up to. Early reviews are now saying that this film will be in the running for major Academy Awards — a statement that seems accurate after watching the film.

Based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, War Horsedepicts the story of Albert Narracott, played by Jeremy Irvine, and his treasured horse Joey in Britain where World War I is about to begin. Joey is sold to the cavalry by Albert's alcoholic father and finds himself trapped in the devastating fields of war while Albert is trying to find him.

Spielberg finds a balance between heartfelt emotion, especially from seeing the war through Joey's eyes and the people he meets along the way, and the tragic problems the main characters face, for example the separation between Joey and Albert after we have watched them bond and connect in the first part of the film. It is those emotional contrasts that Spielberg translates onto the screen well, perhaps the best one being the contrast between the overall setting of the devastation and trauma of World War I and the love between the main character and his horse portrayed throughout the film.

Although some of the cast are newcomers to cinema, they put on a stellar performance. Jeremy Irvine perfectly portrays on screen the character's determination and devotion to find his horse. Practically unknown before this film, his performance in War Horse has now made him one to watch. The rest of the cast include Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Tom Hiddleston, and Niels Arestrup.

War Horse is the perfect film to settle down with the family for Christmas. It is a touching, beautiful depiction of the relationship between a boy and his horse, and of life in the countryside during World War I. The usual bloodbath and gory murder scenes are ditched in favour of a genuine story that manages to provoke passion and deep emotion in the audience, and overall this fits into the beauty of the narrative.

Check more reviews from The Upcoming on http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/?cat=9
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Simply Delightful !
zenjunkie19 January 2012
I went to see this movie expecting NOT to like it. But, for 2 hours and 15 mins I was totally enthralled. I don't understand the reviews that have disliked this wonderful movie. If you want a cinematic experience this will tick the boxes. This is simply a great story - well told. Its also visually stunning. There's no stupid CGI. There's no gratuitous violence - the violent moments are tastefully choreographed and at times heartbreakingly realistic - without going for sensationalism. I'll not tell you the story or give any spoilers. Except to say this. Girls - bring hankies! Guys - don't be put off by the hankies - there's plenty of good action and the story is brilliant anyway. If you want a normal brainless CGI blockbuster - look elsewhere. If you want a class GREAT MOVIE GO AND SEE WARHORSE - you will not regret it.
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Very well made. A modern film reminiscent of the classics.
theindustry10 January 2012
It is well understood from the first few scenes that the typical cliché of both war films and animal dramas will stain Spielberg's canvas, yet the film pushes forward, earning well-deserved praise. Quite a few scenes are captivating to say the least; as is the scene with the horse, Joey, forging through heavily barb-wired no man's land.

'War Horse' surely reminisces the older WW1 films, and epic war films in general, such as Lawrence of Arabia, that drag on forever, yet do not fail to keep you enthralled with their stunning visuals and top-notch acting. Jeremy Irvine's performance was acceptable for an actor fairly new to the game, as were the performances of the gamut of child actors in the film, but honorable mentions must go to Emily Watson, Niels Arestrup, and Peter Mullan. The production did a wonderful job to give the horse Joey a deeper personified image, as if he were an actor. The same goes for the other horses in the film, who seem to converse amongst each other and reveal a chemistry shared between animal and animal, as well as animal and man. A wonderful job on the whole. Certainly Spielberg's finest work in recent months (yes, I don't think cowboys and aliens should ever mix).

For what its worth, this picture will move you deeply, as it has done to many. 'War Horse' inspires anti-war sentiments, as Joey's endeavors help him sympathize with men on both sides of the trenches, and ultimately reminds us of the beauty of Earths beasts. Each one has its own character that strikes a chord with the audience, and this is undeniable.

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A Stunning and Enthralling Epic
Loving_Silence25 December 2011
Steven Spielberg has assembled many fantastic movies, like Schindler's List, Jaws, E.T, Saving Private Ryan, etc. His new creation, War Horse is a stunning achievement. The film was professionally made, it looked amazing, sounded great. Legendary composer, John Williams crafted an amazing and beautiful score. It was one of the best, I've heard in years.

Jeremy Irvine delivers a very heartfelt and convincing performance, he's just great. The rest of the cast, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston, etc were all great, as well. However the star of the film, The Horse was simply amazing, the facial expressions were all spot on. Its just great, how you see the movie, from a horse perspective. Steven Spielberg deserves a lot of praise for that, and I hoper he gets it.

The cinematography is as good as it gets, its simply astounding. The film's cinematographer, Janusz Kamiński deserves all the praise he gets, an Oscar surely awaits him. The movie deserves all the technical praise, it gets. The editing is well done, the art direction is spectacular, the look of the film is quite breathtaking, at times.

The film is uncompromisingly sentimental, and I wasn't annoyed by it. Because it worked so well, it made me care about the story, the characters, the horses. A good old fashion studio epic, I miss them and I'm happy Spielberg delivered one. There are a lot of powerful scenes in the movie, from which I cried. It was just so moving, it showed the true consequences of war. Some of the battle sequences were simply fantastic and astonishing.

I am happy to see, Steven Spielberg in his top form. He showed, that he's still one of the best in the business and I hope to see more of him in the future. It may not be his best film, but it certainly a wonderful film to watch. I'd recommend anyone to see the film, it will appeal to everyone.
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A Very Pretty Movie
littlemartinarocena26 December 2011
John Williams score - wall to wall - reminds us this is a Steven Spielberg film. The Spielberg from "Always" not the Spielberg from "Munich" To say the film is a sentimental boy and horse tale kinds of says it all but, to be honest, not quite all. The battle scenes, WWI this time, are from the same man (men) who gave us those glorious first 45 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan" The display of means is staggering. "Paths Of Glory" and "Pride Of The Marines" came to mind. Our hero, played by Jeremy Irvine, reminded me of young heroes in Disney movies, Tommy Kirk for instance. He's pretty and harmless. But the horse, well the horse is a whole other story. Brilliant performance. I think the Academy should be seriously considering an animal category. This year alone we had this remarkable horse, plus the amazing dogs in "Beginners" an "The Artist" I know, I'm rambling, well so did "War Horse" but in a much prettier way of course.
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A Fantastic War Movie that Will Appeal to All Audiences
Al_Scarface_Capone5 November 2011
I was lucky enough to see War Horse in a special pre-screening last week, and I can safely say I will be seeing it again when its released on Christmas day. I went in with relatively low expectations, after watching the series of mediocre trailers, and walked out being able to safely say that War Horse is one of the best movies of the year, one of Steven Spielberg's best films, and, quite possibly, one of the best war films ever made, up there with my personal favorites The Thin Red Line, Apocalypse Now and Paths of Glory.

Steven Spielberg had long said that he didn't want to make Saving Private Ryan again. He said he wanted War Horse to be a war movie that parents cant take their children to and teach them something about love and war, and in this respect I can say that he more than succeeded. Spielberg comes close to the clinical perfection of Private Ryan, but more importantly, from an emotional perspective, War Horse far exceeds Private Ryan. There are many people apt to cry at Private Ryan, but War Horse is more likely to cause tears at a similar level to, say, Schindler's List. More importantly, unlike either Schindler or Private Ryan, War Horse is unlikely to cause any sort of political or moral complaints. He never tempers the anti-war message with nationalist tripe. Rather, he plays war straight. War is evil, men are good. There are no sides in this movie. In fact, at various points throughout the film, he seems to directly reject Saving Private 's heroism is dying for country message.

War Horse is based on the children's book and play of the same name. It is about a boy who's father, on a whim, buys a horse for his son that he knows will never be what is needed for the farm work it is purchased for. The boy forms an incredible bond with the horse. The first forty five minutes of the film is spent establishing the relationship between boy and horse. This part of the film is rather slow, but is necessary to establishing the film's central relationships, and is quickly made up for by the shift in pace as soon as the war begins. From the Scottish country side, after this important turning point in world history, War Horse shifts to France, where the titular horse is serving after being sold to the army. The boy is a year or two too young to follow his horse to Europe at this point, so for the next section, the film follows the horse only. From here on out, I will leave the plot a mystery, but it is gripping, thrilling, and very emotional.

There are two scenes in War Horse that I think are worthy of further mention. The first is a charge across no man's land. For anyone not familiar with the bulk of World War I's combat, it consisted of months at a time of back and forth shooting between trenches, broken up by awful charges across no man's land, to take a few hundred yards of enemy territory. These charges, as short as they were, as a result of the machine gun, came with death tolls in the thousands or higher. War Horse contains one of these charges, and it is carried out with both taste, and near perfect artistry. It is just grisly enough to get the reality across, but not so grisly that it makes the movie impossible to show to younger audiences. In fact, this trench charge ranks up with Steven Spielberg's other famous World War battle scene, the beach landing in Saving Private Ryan. It doesn't quite make it, but it comes close.

The other scene worthy of mention also occurs in the trenches, and reflects the other side of War Horse. The titular horse gets caught in the barbed wire in No Man's Land. The soldiers on either side spot it. No one knows what to do, as it is clear that its in incredible pain, but they know that leaving their respective trench would expose them to machine gun fire. Eventually two soldiers, one British, the other German both move to free the horse. The soldiers on both sides know what is going on, so no one fires a shot. This scene is unbelievably touching. The discussion they have (the German soldier happens to speak good English, explained adequately through a joke) will move even the most cynical of viewers, and gives a good idea of just what perspective War Horse takes to the act of war.

There are a few small problems in War Horse that, in most films, I would take issue with, but I will forgive in this case as I feel that they are so necessary for this film to appeal to younger audiences. The German soldiers speak English to one another, a big pet peeve for me. I would have preferred for French characters to speak subtitled French and German characters to speak subtitled Germans, but I recognize that many younger viewers refuse to read subtitles. There are a few unnecessary jokes, but again, younger viewers will enjoy these. Spielberg, as always, has three different endings tacked onto the movie, in this case necessary to provide the cut and dry resolution younger viewers require. As I said, these are still problems, but they are, for better or worse, required to accomplish what Spielberg was trying to.

I can say with absolute certainty that when Christmas rolls around, I will be dragging all my younger relatives to a screening of War Horse. I have never seen a movie so able to pull its punches enough to get a PG- 13 rating, but show enough to explain just what it is about war that makes it such an odious, disgusting, awful affair. In short, see War Horse as soon as you possibly can.
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My Lovely Horse
freemantle_uk25 January 2012
World War II has been put to film a number of times in many different countries, but there are not nearly enough World War I films. Steven Spielberg set out to redress the balance giving us War Horse, an adaptation of a children's book and the play of the same name.

Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) is a young man living in Dartmoor in 1914. His father (Peter Mullan) buys a thoroughbred horse when he should have plough because of his rift with his landlord (David Thewlis). Albert is able to break in the horse who he names Joey and he shows to be a very special horse, strong, determined, loyal and intelligence. But when World War I breaks out, Joey is sold to a British office, Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston) and during the course of the conflict the horse see all aspects, from a Calvary horse, in rural civilian life for a French girl suffering Hollywood's disease (i.e. they say she is dying but seems perfectly healthy), as a German work horse and in no man's land.

Spielberg has a good track record making historical films with Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan and Empire of the Sun. War Horse is a solid film rather then being a great film. It is a film that is rich in period detail, showing the brutal nature of World War I, from the effects of chemical warfare and you feel the muddy, dirty environment as horses pull a giant artillery battery up a hill and Spielberg knows how to make a mundane scene of a horse ploughing a field exciting and emotional (it must be the most boring village in the world for watching a horse ploughing to be considered entertainment). But at the same time there are also some problems, particularly Spielberg's reliance on cutesy humour, from a goose who chases people to a scene in the trenches. I would not be surprise if Richard Curtis was partially responsible. The film is too long and many scenes could have been shorten or cut, particularly in the beginning. I think the relationship and love between Albert and Joey could have easily have been done in half the time.

It was a great idea of using a horse to show the horrors of war and the different perspectives of war. It is a great opportunity to show that they are good guys and bad guys on both sides of the war. There is some success in that in the German army privates are show to be decent caring people to the horse, but the officer core and sergeants were very harsh and cruel. Compare it to the British officers who are noble, if a little arrogant or cocky, but there are hints in one of the officers that behind his eagerness that in reality he was scared of the prospect of going to war for the first time. I would have wanted to see more of a mixed picture within all sides of the war and try to give more depth to the characters.

There is a great cast in War Horse, we have emerging talent like Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch who in their small roles show they are going to be big actors (well more so), new talent like Irvine who was excellent, playing his character like Sam and Frodo from Lord of the Rings and Celine Buckens where the humour works best. Emily Watson was also brilliant as Albert's mother and it great to see in a big film. And of course Joey the horse shows a lot of promise as an animal performer.

John Williams also supplies Mr. Spielberg with another great score, fitting for the film and Janusz Kaminski continues with great camera work, from the bright work of Devon in the summer to more grey and dull view of the front line of the war.

War Horse is a solid piece of filmmaking. It is typical Oscar bait but it still works as a film and Spielberg is able to make us care for Joey.

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Stunning film, a visual feast
barbara-36425 January 2012
This film is a treat to watch. I was keen to see it, but had reservations about watching scenes from world war one. I had no need to worry. The whole thing was beautifully handled and even the filming of the trenches and the front were carefully composed and lit. Joey the horse is the lead actor. And what an actor! What a handsome horse! He certainly stole the film. Some scenes stay with me. The race with the car, the friendship with the black horse, the Geordie regiment bagpipe player in the trench, the German soldiers helping the worn out horses drag those great guns up the slope. Joey bolting through the barbed-wire fencing. A friend I was with remarked afterwards that Roses of Picardy had not been written in 1914 and that the record it was being played on was from about three decades later. These are really small details in what appeared to me to be a meticulously researched film. I hope it has a world wide audience. It deserves one.
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A truly exceptional film about courage in both man and beast
bamacharm29 December 2011
This is a wonderful "against all odds" inspirational story about courage and relationships. A horse of truly amazing spirit touches the lives of so many during War I - including British soldiers, German soldiers, French civilians and even other horses. I cannot recall any foul language throughout the film. The background and drama are epic. Steven Spielberg will take you through many emotions from humor, to sadness, to tears of joy. The scenery is gorgeous, the acting splendid, and the performances by the animals is simply remarkable. The cinematography has to be the best I've seen in a film. The last scene alone is a masterpiece.

Jeremy Irvine as "Albert" was particularly outstanding. I was also moved by the performance of French actor Niels Arestrup as the Grandfather and that of Celine Buckens who plays Emilie - his granddaughter. Of course, the War Horse -Joey- steals the show.

I cannot give a film any higher recommendation than I give this one. You will be moved to tears. Everyone in the family will enjoy it and you'll be pleased that you "participated" because you will be fully invested in this story emotionally.
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A rouser
jdesando24 December 2011
I have not seen a better movie than War Horse to introduce mature youngsters to the concept of war and its effects. In addition, the idea of WWI: the Great War, the war to end all wars is a history lesson only movies can make real. Besides, it's a rousing adventure.

Steven Spielberg has helmed another sentimental favorite about a boy and his horse, whom he finds after the horse has been drafted. If you marry The Black Stallion with All Quiet on the Western front, then you have an idea of the mix: audience pleasing characters, their horses, and war as in Saving Private Ryan sans the flying body parts. The trenches are well-known images by now, but Spielberg brings a measure of reality that needs not the blood and guts to transmit the horror.

War Horse is not Schindler's List because it plays the sentiment card a bit too boldly with music that demands specific responses the audience could achieve without the coaching. However, the visual imagery is stunning, more like the John Ford epic silhouetting than the David Lean expansiveness. Yet, both artists are there in Spielberg's art.

Those horses: Joe is the horse sought after by his nurturing young man, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), and both the Brit and German armies as a touchstone of the humanity the director so carefully husbands. The scene when a Brit and a German soldier suspend the war to help the horse is a memorable manipulation of the theme of war's insanity. It's not the first time an artist has taken the theme of a time out of war to show its absurdity in the face of enduring humanity.

Although the film is about a half hour too long and the director's themes too obvious, he has achieved a renaissance for old fashioned quality filmmaking: gorgeous shots, sympathetic characters, epic themes, and a plot easy to follow. Over it all favors the loving, childlike director, who appeals to the youth in us and the hope for mankind.
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jessyssej9 January 2012
I'm not sure that I watched the same flick as most of the other reviewers. This movie tries desperately to be epic in every scene. And fails. It feels like a handful of trailers all strung together with poor script, sketchy acting, and no character development. While the movie was set in beautiful areas, the cinematography did not reflect this.

I found myself laughing...a lot. Don't get me wrong, I still see the potential for a great story, but it wasn't delivered here--unless of course you just want fluff masquerading as something grand. I am exceedingly disappointed in the movie. I hoped the outcome would reflect such a vast and emotional subject, but alas, no such luck.
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Bore Horse
markdroulston12 January 2012
What on earth has happened to Steven Spielberg? Despite large amounts of negativity surrounding War Horse, I was firmly of the opinion that anything the legendary director had to offer was worth taking a chance on and seeing in the cinema. Now I'm not so convinced.

After not releasing a film since 2008's widely derided Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a film which even The Beard himself seems content to blame on best friend George Lucas, Spielberg has returned with two high profile releases in the last month. The Adventures of Tintin was underwhelming aside from a handful of spectacular set pieces, but with War Horse he delivers such a contrived, pathetically sappy piece of fluff that I honestly have a hard time deciding whether the films is meant to be taken seriously, or is in fact some kind of bizarre parody. Spielberg has always teetered into an over- reliance on sentimentality, yet in this latest film he turns the attempted heart string pulling up to eleven, and what we end up with is a completely phony and unauthentic set of vignettes all tied together by our hero: Joey the wonder horse. It feels like one of those 'truth is stranger than fiction' stories that you would never believe if it didn't really happen, with one key difference: this story isn't true. It didn't really happen. And so, I never believed in any of it for a second.

War Horse takes the entire first act to build up the character of Joey, who we're told to believe is a special horse for some reason which is never really made clear. Perhaps 'told' is the wrong word to use. OK, we're beaten over the head with how special this horse is. Following the outbreak of World War I, Joey is sold to the military, in the care of Captain Nicholls (Tom Hiddleston), to be sent to the front to aid the war effort. Given that WWI is likely to remain the last time horses were widely used in combat, there is potentially interesting stuff here, but after a moderately engaging 20 minutes or so Joey winds up in the hands of two German army deserters. Odd choice, but perhaps Spielberg will allow something to develop here. No, 20 minutes later and our two Germans are out of the picture and this increasingly infuriating horse finds himself being taught how to jump by a young French girl. And so we go on, with stories beginning all over the place, only to be abandoned in quick succession. One thing is constant however, which no-one in the film seems to be aware of: this horse is a frighteningly bad omen, and each new person who comes across Joey and immediately falls for his plucky charm is living on borrowed time. But, luckily for Joey, after spreading misery and death throughout Europe there's always another poor soul waiting in the wings to take up the reins. I'll stress again, I just don't know how to take this seriously.

War Horse is going to be remembered as one of the worst films in Spielberg's catalogue. It is a movie which abandons all logical cause and effect narrative in favour of simply having things happen without reason, in a glaringly deliberate attempt to enamour audiences to this horse. Spielberg tries to work audience emotions like a twisted puppet master, commanding us to feel on cue, but it is my sincere hope that viewers are smart enough to realise when they are being manipulated. I'm sure Spielberg still has interesting movies to make (fingers crossed for Lincoln later this year), but War Horse comes up lame from the opening scene, and I wish someone had the good sense to put it out of its misery with a bullet to the head.

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Just not British to shed a tear
Harryhammer217 January 2012
Here's the situation.... you have a large budget to make a big Hollywood production of a children's book that had been made into a successful West End production, it will be set during the years of 1914-1918 and it will be mainly targeted towards families.... oh and it's leading star will be a Horse. Probably only Steven Spileberg could come close to pulling this off and in my eyes and in the moist and damp eyes of my wife and daughter (aged 10) he has been successful.

It is a gloriously old fashioned romp of film with magnificent scenery and cinematography from the gods, from the vibrant fields and countryside of Devon to the Flanders fields and the mud and the destruction of the Somme.

The film centres around Joey the horse and the people he meets, he somehow in the madness of conflict allows them to find their humanity, this happened then and it still happens now, organisations such as NOWZAD aiding serviceman bringing home their four legged (normally Dogs) companions from their tour of duty.

I laughed and cried and cheered this magnificent beast, he is after all the star of the show (and the biggest star since Secretariat!), it pulls the heart strings unashamedly and maybe that is the problem with some of the critical reviews, just like Captain Nicholls and the other brave cavalry men, it's just not British to shed a tear! If you want to be cynical then yes you will probably want to pull this film apart but you know.... for once I did not want to see the graphic realities of war, I wanted to watch a film with my daughter that she could understand the horror's of that conflict without showing the exploited gore of some modern War films. After the film had finished and we had dried our eyes we went for a meal, the whole meal we were talking as a family about the film, and surely that is what it is all about.

Mr Spielberg has probably done more in 2.5 hours to educate children regarding the history of World War 1 than any history teacher could do, and he has done it with the aid of some of the truly great scenes in modern day cinema ...Oh and not forgetting a horse (or two!).
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Truly terrible movie, please do not waste your time on such a ridiculous piece of film!!
ill_break_ya_neck469 February 2012
I am the kind of person who at times is partial to a bit of cheese within a movie, however, this takes things to a level above comprehension. Honestly do not know what Spielberg was thinking when he thought this was a good idea, that horse must have had some unbelievable jokes or thought provoking conversations because instantly after being around the horse for about an hour, people became so magnetised by it that they just stop the middle of a war and start trying to coax it over with a series of clicks and whistles, before a soldier risks his life going over the top for this particular horse he's spotted from a far in a war/film where just 10 minutes prior to this about 20 horses die and nobody bats an eye. Then the doctor decides to disregard his wounded soldiers and treat the horse instead, calling the horse a soldier because it belongs to this lad, even though a second ago was going to put it to bed. On the whole the movie was hilarious, primarily because of how ridiculous it was, ridiculous storyline, all round overacting and tan tivvy music. Horse did well though.
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Truly Truly Awful
philman20000114 January 2012
I am amazed that anybody could possibly like this. I did not fall asleep during the movie, but staying awake through the torturous 2 hours and 40 minutes was a challenge. Everyone I was with fell asleep and it seemed like half the theater did as well- in the end they got more value for their money than I did. All I can say is I am happy I paid for another film and popped into this one afterward. I am amazed that this is being considered for Oscars, and even more amazed that there are so many positive reviews.... I mean, it's Spielberg, so of course it is going to have pleasing cinematography as well as an array of his favorite actors, but every single development of the film is so incredibly played out- i mean everything: from the opening shots to the closing credits it is painful cliché after painful cliché with the same played out actors playing the same played out roles.

I'm sorry... I am so offended by this films warm reception that I can't even critique it properly... When I saw it I was sure that it had fallen flat on its ass and nobody would fall for it. It was like a Mad TV spoof of a Spielberg film. If you were thinking about watching War Horse, you might prefer drowning yourself.
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Would be enjoyable if you were high or stupid.
annefrancesw13 April 2012
I love a good horse movie - National Velvet is a wonderful film that remains timeless... This is no National Velvet. This is a predictable piece of crap. Having said that, it is also highly unbelievable, and usually I'm happy to suspend my disbelief for a couple of hours, but this is just too much.

The music is so overdone that it's annoying. Music should help create mood and emotion without being noticeable. This music is overbearing and completely lacking in subtlety.

Great cast, which makes me sad. I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a fantastic actor. Emily Watson has done some amazing work. Did they not read the script before they signed on?

Take my advice; if you are forced to sit through this with your children; have a few drinks first.
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Everything wrong with Spielberg.
Rockwell_Cronenberg8 January 2012
My hatred for Steven Spielberg has been made no secret by me over the years and when it comes to an example as to why, nothing in his career works as well as War Horse. This is a film loaded to the brim with all of the nauseating cheese and sentimentality that makes me shudder whenever I see his name attached to a film. Almost from the start you can just taste the gooey sweetness pouring off the screen and it never really stops.

There are a few moments that tease that maybe there's going to be a little more to it, but those are wiped away quickly. The premise in itself is relatively laughable, as we follow a horse that inexplicably travels through many different sides of the first World War, from the farm where it's born to the front lines of both sides of the battle between the English and French and boy is this just the perfect excuse for us to be riddled with cliché after cliché. Some clichés in films work for a reason; Warrior was loaded with them but the sincerity of it's characters made the emotions feel real for me.

Then there are others don't work and here you can find just about every wartime move imaginable; from the cocky leader that's secretly terrified of dying to the young boy who lies about his age in order to enlist, each time our horse encounters a new character we are treated to another dose of this tripe. Hell, there's even a terminally ill little girl for those who don't think the manipulative war clichés are enough. It's Spielberg doing what he does "best", throwing on cheese after cheese to a disgusting degree.

There's even the dreadfully glossy cinematography from Janusz Kaminski and the hilariously sensational score from John Williams. It's all so superficial and forced, all leading to the final act where every new scene features one revolting move after the next. Two opposing soldiers meet in the middle of No Man's Land to cut the horse loose from wires, a mother and son embrace after the war while the sun sets behind them. Jesus Christ.

For fear of spoiling the film for some people who actually think this might give them some sort of quality viewing I won't describe the worst offender of them all, but the climax is one of the most laughably sentimental and ridiculous scenes I've witnessed this year, if not in the history of cinema. It's pathetic. This film is the epitome of everything that makes me loathe Spielberg.

Despite everything that's wrong with how Spielberg handles the material, the clichés and sentimentality of it all isn't where the problems begin, and it might not even be where they are at their most substantial. While that was probably my main issue with the film, I honestly found faults in just about everything that was going on here.

I do feel that it kind of pours on cliché after cliché in a way that feels forced and manipulative, but I also have a lot of problems with just the artificiality of it all in general. From the way that it's shot to the way the sets are designed, it all felt very staged to me and very much like I was watching a filmed version of the play. For something depicting a war it felt claustrophobic in a lot of ways.

I also think that the characters were all clichés themselves, because the writing doesn't give them time to develop into whole human beings before it quickly jumps to another one. I just don't think any of the characters were very well established. Actually, in writing this I'm thinking that a lot of my problems lie more with the writing than with the directing, although I do think there are a lot of moments where things come together in a very sappy and artificial way.
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Snore Horse
BJBatimdb3 February 2012
That's it. Steven Spielberg needs to stop making movies RIGHT NOW before we all forget how ET and Jaws and Close Encounters shaped a generation of young film fans in a GOOD way.

War Horse is the most tired, clichéd, derivative, predictable, laughable, emotionally-empty piece of film-making I have seen in a very very long time.

It's National Velvet without the great script but with a Grand National that lasts for four years; it's Gone With the Wind without Scarlett O'Hara or Rhett Butler; it's Driving Miss Daisy without the gritty realism.

Like poor George Lucas, Steven Spielberg is apparently too famous now for anyone he works with to him to tell him when he's wasting money on set pieces and scenery, instead of spending it on character development and emotional truth.

I don't object to a bit of emotional manipulation and certainly expected to have my tear-ducts mined. Things started well when I found that during a very short hiatus from my nearest cinema, ticket prices had gone up to almost £9. Lucky I'd taken plenty of tissues, in anticipation of a marvellous cry. I got one out as soon as the film started, just to be on the safe side. But it stayed dry. I didn't even snivel.

And the reason was that I felt utterly detached from the story and the characters. Of course, Spielberg plucks furiously at every heart-string like an irritating toddler on a forbidden guitar. The result is a tuneless cacophony of increasingly desperate appeals for emotion, which only made me dig in my mulish heels.

The horses were outstanding, and horses normally guarantee a good old weep from me just for being so Ahhhh, let alone being injured, maltreated and gunned down. But I was so annoyed by the film that I couldn't even shed a decent tear! What a swizz.

I know this is from a children's book, and that explains a lot of the dull, episodic nature of the film, but it is the filmmaker's job to ADAPT a book for screen to hopefully stay true to the heart and the spirit of the story, rather than be a slave to every word. War Horse is so literal that we (and Joey the horse) are whisked from owner to owner, for no other apparent reason than to show that some Germans like horses, and so do little girls. Each episode is so brief and/or so badly written that we have hardly established characterization before Joey is off to another new home. Situations that should be heart-rending are instead predictable and trite. While I'm opposed on principle to animals talking in movies, I think this may have been a film that could have worked better with a horsey voice-over, or even with a thorough rewrite, even if it was at the risk of alienating those who loved the book.

The film is very miscast and the characters are clichés, while the situations are totally unbelievable. From the strapping, straight-toothed Dartmoor farm boy and his drunken father and his hardworking mother and their evil, rich laughing landlord etc etc etc, to training a young horse in five minutes to do what would actually take weeks, if not months. The film lost credibility hand over fist, culminating in a glaring anachronism of a dirt-poor farmer drinking from a jolly market-stall mug with cows on it.

Like all his movies from Schindler's List onwards, Spielberg simply can't end a movie any more. Either he rambles on for half an hour past the perfect end-point, or he tries so hard to squeeze emotion out of his audience that things come full circle and become simply ridiculous. I won't spoil the ending because Steven Spoilberg has already done it for us. Suffice to say, I laughed out loud.

HOWEVER There are two AMAZING scenes in War Horse - in a field of tall grass and of Joey running across Nomansland - both totally original reminders of how great Spielberg used to be. I give the movie a star for each of those and NOT A TWINKLE MORE!
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I wish i could un-watch this film
This is HONESTLY, the most spectacularly awful film I have ever watched. I have actively sought out bad movies previously in order to see just how bad they are, but this one is worse. By the end of the film my eyes were bleeding from sitting through the whole thing. The film's only redeeming feature was that it ended, but it sure took its sweet time about that. It is so bad that I wouldn't recommend it even to someone who likes to watch bad films, I think they would gain more enjoyment from being coiled up in barbed wire.

There are no characters to identify with, the cinematography is appalling, the sets look very fake and the colours are over-dramatic, the musical score attempts to be emotionally manipulative and fails. One couple left the theatre half way through. I had faith it might get better so stuck it out, but I shouldn't have.

There was a point where I was torn between excitement that the pain of watching the film would end if the horse died, and a genuine concern for the horse's wellbeing during the filming. Later I reassured myself with the knowledge that animal rights protesters would never allow the horse to endure the pain of watching this film.

I can't believe this film currently scores 7.2 on IMDb, this has driven me to review it and hopefully drag it's score down to less than 2, where it belongs, as I felt like someone was jabbing needles into my eyes throughout the film.
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I wasn't drunk enough
avimagery28 April 2012
I never even made it to the plow. I can endure, and even enjoy, lots of sentimentality in a movie; but when it's accomplished with nothing but overacted sap that has no connection to realism whatsoever, I have to be totally intoxicated to endure it. I wasn't drunk enough to make it past the horse training lessons that showed a painfully unbelievable boy-man whispering sweetly pleaful sentences into a pretty horse's ears. That unnecessary tripe was an insult to the bond that happens between a person and an animal when they work to make a few commands understood between them, and eventually communicate through a whole range of body and tone languages.

Once the credibility of the film was so completely trashed in those early scenes, there was no point in watching any further.

When movies like this get Oscar nominations, it turns the Academy Awards into a meaningless Hollywood cronies parade.
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The Bond Between Man and Beast
AudioFileZ9 January 2012
This holiday season I've seen two movies which couldn't be more different except they both portrayed the almost spiritual bond which often occurs between man and animals. I'm referring to Dolphin Tale and War Horse. Both manage to capture the best part of the human condition as related to being connected to animals with amazing abilities. I feel entertained and moved by both of these films.

War Horse, unlike Dolphin Tale, isn't AFAIK based on any true story. It would be hard for it to as it demands a bit of suspension which allows it to work as a "Old Yeller" type of heart-warming movie. Trading a bit of believability isn't a problem as Spielberg has, in spite of showing the horrors of war, managed to deliver a very uplifting tale. Against every imaginable odd, a boy and his beloved horse survive all the horrors life's hardships and, even more dramatic, the slaughter of the first world war.

Special nods must go to the cinematographer as this is one unbelievably beautifully photographed film. The European countrysides, the amazing charging battle scenes, and the ending sunset blazing sky scene reminds me of the Technicolor richness of "Gone With the Wind" and that's the highest compliment I can give. The actors who play Joey and Emily must be applauded for giving superlative performances. What's left is the horse itself which turns in such an amazing performance it makes me want to go out and buy a horse!!!

If you love animals you must see this film. If you just want to experience a good story of humanity against the ghastliness of war go see it. Finally, if you just want to lose your worries for a couple of hours and be entertained go see this film. War Horse works on many levels and only real "stick in the mud" types will walk out without smiles. Bravo Mr. Spielberg!
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Immensely Satisfying
Spritedude2324 January 2012
This is not a movie to watch casually. That said, it is definitely a movie to watch, and emotionally invest in it, the payoff is incredible. Although the beginning lagged a bit (there could have easily been a good 15 minutes taken off of the running time), once the battle scenes picked up I became enthralled.

Steven Spielberg hits home once again with this film, and John William's soundtrack is completely outstanding. And there is a slew of recognizable actors from David Thewlis (Remus Lupin in Harry Potter) to Eddie Marsan (Inspector Lestrade in Sherlock Holmes).

Overall this movie was immensely satisfying, and moving in a couple parts.

Eight solid stars.
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The worst film I have ever seen
sannelehmann27 June 2012
This film is simply ridiculous from start to finish.

I love movies and I love horses. To me the basic enjoyment of watching films is based in the simple concept of make believe. I need to as the viewer to believe in the characters, the setting, the story. I have to understand motives and be able to translate this into something, into a coherent vision. I have to be able to suspend my disbelief in order to allow the director to take me willingly into his world of make believe.

This is exactly where War Horse fails miserably. I cannot believe that a poor family would even out of pride buy a thoroughbred instead of a plow horse, I cannot believe that a soldier would promise a young boy to take very good care of his horse and subsequently send him a drawing of that horse in the midst of war when people are dying all around him.

I cannot be drawn into a movie that clearly is supposed to be a love story between a young man and his horse, underscored by the most sickening score ever to have been written by John Williams - if anyone can believe that at all.

Every scene reeks of a kind of meta-awareness about itself - this is the scene where the bond between the horse and boy is established, this is the scene where the character of the father is revealed. Cancelling out any type of true emotion or pretense of make believe.

For example the scene where the usually brilliant Emma Watson tells her son about the experiences of his father during the Boer war in South Africa. The scene is literally saying: This is the scene where the mother will reveal her love for her husband. I cannot remember a word of the dialog but only my sense of the self-awareness making the scene awkward and making me feel sorry for Emma Watson for having to read out such completely low-standard writing. When you are working with meta-awareness in order to create certain emotions you loose the make believe part. It is also extremely condescending - I feel I am being patronized by the film maker here. I throw this scene at you with a sickly girl living with her grandfather speaking out the most hideously written dialog ever and you are supposed to feel in a certain way.

No! Mr. Spielberg - that is not the way it works!

There is more make believe, truth and respect for the audience in the 3 min scene from Close Encounters where Dreyfuss builds that hill in his living room than there is in this entire film.

1 star - would have rated it even lower if possible.
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