War Horse (2011)

War Horse (2011)


Separated by war. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship.

Spielberg directed war-drama, based on both the children's novel and its stage adaptation, about a British lad who sets out on a journey to rescue his horse from the battlefields of World War I.... More

Albert's (newcomer Jeremy Irvine) pet horse and best friend, Joey, is sold to the calvary at the outbreak of the first World War. Heartbroken, Albert heads to France to find his friend, despite being too young to enlist in the British army. The film follows Joey's journey across Europe and through the war, as well as Albert's search.

Also stars Tom Hiddleston (Thor), Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock) and Oscar-nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves).Hide

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Flicks Review

Do you remember how on the last day of school term, post exams, when teachers had nothing left to teach, we’d be sat indoors watching a VHS? Maybe they’ll try the War Horse DVD from now on. It’s that kind of afternoon-devourer of a film. Blandly innocuous, inoffensive with some well-intentioned relation to historical events, Spielberg’s equine-led schmaltz-bucket lacks excitement.... More

Opening in the 1910s, we are greeted with a sequence of filly and foal cantering around hillocks in a storybook Devon. Get ready for plenty more of this, says Spielberg. Unfortunately horses are not the most expressive of beasts and there is no escaping the blank-eyed, dead-brained void that the titular character provides. That’s even with John William’s incessant score providing our every emotional cue.

Joey (that’s the horse) progresses through several sequences, each populated with earnest, Dudley-do-rights that beat us over the head with heavy-handed sentiment. Finally he arrives in the muddy trenches on the Western Front, the bit where you’ll sit up and take notice, even if a sanitised lack of blood seems surprising for the director of Saving Private Ryan.

It’s vaguely notable to consider the stylistic references to classic British films, whether general (a ‘40s visual aesthetic of a romanticised, bucolic England) or specific (a cavalry charge influenced by a similar moment in Lawrence of Arabia), and Spielberg still has the odd moment of cinematic inspiration, but War Horse is a rather uninteresting film and sadly the first of the director’s that I cared nothing for.Hide

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 6 ratings, 8 reviews
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BY Josef lister

Mister Spielberg is sadly going down the same road as Mister Lucas by pouring millions to produce disappointing results. His demise began with the last Indiana Jones movie and continues with this. How it was nominated for Best Picture is beyond me! There are much better films that weren't even nominated that are far superior to this film. I sincerely hope he can turn things around with Lincoln.

I thought the scenery and backdrop for The War Horse was great. Everyone said how it was a terrible movie. Really, it was a pretty good story about the adventures and trials of a horse in WWI I. I'm not sure it was ever meant to be about WWI itself.

BY blacknaf lister

I am stumped by all the poor reviews - I loved this movie! I can only think that the reviewers are all die-hard Spielberg fans and that this movie didn't meet up to their pre-conceived ideas. I found it very moving and it is a beautiful story. The only negative comment I would make is that there appeared to be a mixture of "styles" - we went from Emmerdale Farm to Charge of The Light Brigarde to Saving Private Ryan to Gone With The Wind! But the cinematography was excellent and it... More was great entertainment - I wasn't bored for a minute!Hide

I'm a huge Spielberg fan. I even loved AI: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. But then again, HOOK made me vomit; ALWAYS made me want to gouge out my eyes with a rusty spoon and AMISTAD was just plain dull. Sadly, WAR HORSE joins these three as one of the Berg's misfires. Sappy, soppy, silly - and that's not even because it's hero is, um, a horse. Great cast, scrumptious cinematography... So, see the trailer and give it a miss. Unless you have ikkle kidlets who love stuff like BLACK BEAUTY or LASSIE goes... More to war. Then? It's a harmless, fluffy family Sunday afternoon TV movie. Sort of THE RAILWAY CHILDREN... with a horse... in a war... One star for the cinematography and a couple of nice set pieces, but we expect more of you Sir Steve, no horsesh*t.Hide

BY filmlover superstar

Once again Speilberg has got it horribly wrong. Even the English village locations looked like Hollywood backlots.
Emily Watson's talents were sorely underused and what was Benedict Cumberbatch doing in this clunker? He must have been fooled into thinking this was going to be a WW1 story. Only one good scene in this.Don't bother going for it.

Showing 5 of 8 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

77% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • War Horse is bold, not afraid of sentiment and lets out all the stops in magnificently staged action sequences. Full Review

  • War Horse is bold, exquisite family filmmaking in the grandest Hollywood tradition. Full Review

  • This is a beautifully built, classically framed movie, shot with the unshowy natural expressiveness of a John Ford Western. Full Review

  • War Horse left me strangely and definitively unmoved on every level, with a cheesiness factor alienating me from the characters and robbing me of any connection with the story. Full Review

  • In the end, while you can't doubt Spielberg's commitment to telling a putatively heartwarming and emotion-wringing tale, War Horse is just too calculated to do what he wants to do. Full Review

  • This beautifully composed picture brings a robust physicality to tried-and-true source material, but falls short of the sustained narrative involvement and emotional drive its resolutely old-fashioned storytelling demands. Full Review

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