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War Horse (2011)

tomatometer

77

Average Rating: 7/10
Reviews Counted: 212
Fresh: 163 | Rotten: 49

Technically superb, proudly sentimental, and unabashedly old-fashioned, War Horse is an emotional drama that tugs the heartstrings with Spielberg's customary flair.

79

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 33 | Rotten: 9

Technically superb, proudly sentimental, and unabashedly old-fashioned, War Horse is an emotional drama that tugs the heartstrings with Spielberg's customary flair.

audience

74

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 67,126

My Rating

Movie Info

Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets-British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter-before the story reaches its

PG-13,

Drama, Action & Adventure

Lee Hall

Apr 3, 2012

$79.9M

Walt Disney Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (214) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (163) | Rotten (49) | DVD (11)

Spielberg still manages to surprise and impress.

January 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The trouble here is not so much that Spielberg's film staunchly insists on finding a happy ending even in the calamity of the First World War, but that he slathers it on so thick and leaves so soft an impression.

January 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comments (29)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The material sometimes feels oversugared, though it's also guaranteed to raise a lump in your throat.

January 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Newsday
Newsday
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Tthe images have what I can only describe as a wonderful texture. They also have intense color: deep gemlike greens and reds, with black shadows out of an old master painting.

December 31, 2011 Full Review Source: Slate | Comments (3)
Slate
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We never ask why the production is devoted to an animal while ten million men are dying, but when Spielberg does the story realistically, it seems trivial, even a little daft.

December 30, 2011 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comments (48)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Amid the incomprehensible slaughter, it's a horse that reminds these warriors of their humanity.

December 30, 2011 Full Review Source: New York Magazine
New York Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" is an imperfect film, but certainly is a beautiful one.

September 25, 2013 Full Review Source: FoxNews.com
FoxNews.com

They will keep trying and trying until only the blackest of hearts are left un-moved. I guess I should hand in my organ donation card because I clearly don't have a heart judging from the dismissive reaction I had to this patently artificial film.

September 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Trespass
Trespass

For sublime equine you'd be hard pressed to find a better mount than 'War Horse.'

May 25, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

War Horse offers a number of memorable moments both tragic and profound.

October 2, 2012 Full Review Source: ScreenRant
ScreenRant

Leave it to the great Steven Spielberg to be able to inject a great deal of heart into a story about a boy and his horse.

September 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Examiner.com
Examiner.com

It's too bad that Steven Spielberg's latest film War Horse doesn't quite live up to the example set by its majestic titular character.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

Its epic length is the one thing you're guaranteed to take from the experience.

August 25, 2012 Full Review Source: NECN

A two-and-a-half hour sightseeing tour through David O. Selznick's junk drawer.

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source: CraveOnline | Comment (1)
CraveOnline

While made with great technical proficiency, War Horse is determinedly old-fashioned in how Spielberg tells the story, which is a fitting creative strategy considering that the film studies the convergence of the old and the modern.

August 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema | Comment (1)
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

God bless Steven Spielberg, who knows how to push my buttons.

June 8, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

War Horse is a fine film, helmed by a fine filmmaker all too aware of how to pull the audience's strings.

May 8, 2012 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

"How Green Was My Valley, How Smart Was My Horse." [Blu-ray]

April 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

What is a simple, World War I-era tale of a boy and his horse on the page and stage becomes bloated in Spielberg & Co.'s hands. Benefits from stunning cinematography and an excellent supporting cast.

April 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Dearest | Comments (2)
Movie Dearest

It is a vividly detailed depiction of a time, a place and a conflict.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service | Comments (2)
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

In tone and in the way that the narrative unfolds, it's a throwback to a more romantic era of filmmaking-when making feel-good movies wasn't anything to apologize for.

March 23, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis | Comment (1)
Movie Metropolis

If it doesn't quite manage to tap the well of emotion that this type of film aims to access, it's because of problems inherent to the basic pitch, rather than the execution.

March 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)

After the recent disappointment of a few donkey movies, director Steven Spielberg gallops back onto the big screen with a cinematic stallion in War Horse.

March 10, 2012 Full Review Source: UTV

[Not] entirely satisfying … Somehow, though, the sum of the parts are more than the whole … It is a film of a kind we don't see any more, that it would be good to see more of.

February 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

full review at Movies for the Masses

February 17, 2012 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

In spite of a few moving scenes, it's labored, too long and too gorgeously shot.

January 26, 2012 Full Review Source: Akron Beacon Journal | Comment (1)

Audience Reviews for War Horse

You can basically look at this as both Spielberg's epic salute to John Ford, as well as his Barry Lyndon.

Like the aforementioned Kubrick film, this is an absolutely gorgeous piece of work, with each shot looking like something straight out of a painting. This is easily some of the best cinematography from any of Spielberg's films. However, like BL, it's very long, slow, and sometimes rather tedious to get through...but unlike that on e, this is not a masterpiece.

Nope, this is basically just Spielberg doing more of what he does best: serving up some very far from subtle sentimental story that is designed to really tug at your heart and shake you up emotionally as much as possible. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but he does do it so often that yeah, it gets quite tiring. He needs to make another film like Munich, which is easily his most serious, least sappy film.

I do think it's interesting that we get a sprawling story that goes all over rural England and various parts of Europe at large during World War I, and that it's all told primarily from the perspective of a horse named Joey (and sometimes his young trainer Albert), but then again, there's no real surprises about this either with how it plays out because of who is directing.

It is a good story, and I'd being lying if I said that the manipulative tactics didn't work on me as planned, but I won't let my respect for what Spielberg has done for the film industry keep me from saying that the film really isn't all that remarkable.

It is kinda boring, even underwhelming at times. Had it not been so beautiful, and had John Williams providing the music (even if this is just so-so Williams), and had we not had some serviceable performances from the cast (including the animals) then I'd have no problem giving this a lower rating. Plus, it doesn't help that this is, admittedly a rather watered down and fairy tale take on events.

In the end, this does get enough right that I'll be kind and give it a passing grade, because let's be honest, who else does this sort of thing better than Spielberg?
March 10, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

No thanks, Steve.
February 17, 2013
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer

In War Horse, Spielberg uses his considerable talents to give us a film that feels like it could have been presented in the 40's or 50's - that type of "big" film where an all encompassing tale is told by what happens around the title character. Unfortunately its sentiments (except for the underlying "war sucks" theme) are equally stuck in that aw shucks kind of smaltz.

However, there is no denying that the craft at work here is noteworthy - intentionally using a low camera angle, everything looks bigger than life; and the color saturation and use of shading and light are indeed expert - if only the script were equal to what Spielberg put into it.

I'm not saying that the story sucks - but that it certainly requires you to suspend not only your logic, but your belief in so many instances, but once again, this happened so frequently in those aforementioned 40?s type films.

In following the story line, there are coincidence heaped atop coincidence - and really , much of it I give a pass to - but the film should have ended with the young man being reunited with his horse - that would have been just perfect; but no, the script just couldn't leave well enough alone - having to tie up just about everything that had gone on before in one nice big package - unnecessary, and overly sappy; and truly unfortunate.

So why the more than just passing grade? Well, because I got swept up in the wonder of it all - and was truly vested in what was to become of Joey the War Horse - and it only bugged me in a kind of subliminal way that the horses' actions often defied any kind of - dare I say it - horse sense. That Joey bonded with another stallion is not very likely , for in horsey world, said horse would be nothing more than a competitor for breeding rights , though it did make for some heart rendering scenes.

I also have to comment that Spielberg's portrayal of the horror of war was magnificent : from scenes of carnage to the horrors of mustard gas and the barbed wire filled no-man's land; wow, the horror, the horror (to quote some colonel from a much later war). I really felt the message here - what is it all for? Why, throughout the history of our species, do we insist on nation building and taking sides ? Spielberg makes this abundantly clear in the poignant scene in no-man's land where a Brit and a German soldier meet to try to extricate Joey from a barbed wire entanglement (a metaphor perhaps). Here were two young men, on opposite sides, yet finding common ground in their mutual goal ; to the point where both had to have been wondering what they were fighting for - this so much reminded me of David Crosby's song "Wooden Ships" and the final line "we are leaving, you don?t need us".

There is also a nice little subplot that deals with the industrial age and the end of an era. The charge of cavalry and close in fighting becoming taken over by rapid fire guns, heavy artillery and mechanized warfare and war becomes even more impersonal.

So in closing, a very worthwhile film view for the craft and some of its sentiments, but held back from greatness by being overly sappy at times: like watching My Friend Flicka or Black Beauty; films from a simpler time.
December 24, 2012
maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

I'm a big fan of the book, have been for years but I'm probably a bigger fan of the theatre production of War Horse, I love the story and the theatre version using puppetry (for want of a better word as it is a little more advanced than puppetry). I'm not completely surprised by what Spielberg has done with his adaptation, if I'm being honest I thought it would be worse. The assembled cast is impressive, a who's who of contemporary British talent, apart from Jeremy Irvine who can't act, and everyone does a fine job. It's pretty predictable that Spielberg went to Richard Curtis for the screenplay, seeing as he is the only British screen writer even (*Groans*). The story is there, it's just that it's needlessly sugarcoated to the point of sickly, it's so heavy handed it's hard to take seriously. The CGI and blue-screen are also overused, it's funny really that he seems to be taking advantage of the recent success of the theatre production but is also showing why it is superior. The bearded one is getting old and tired and really needs to come up with a good idea of his own instead of pillaging other people's.
October 22, 2012
SirPant

Super Reviewer

    1. Rosie Narracott: I might hate you more, but I'll never love you less.
    – Submitted by Andrea M (8 months ago)
    1. Rosie Narracott: I might hate you more, but I'll never love you less.
    – Submitted by Jillian L (8 months ago)
    1. British Trench Soldier #1: Woah, look at those legs he's got, those muscles! And look at those long legs, made for running away from danger.
    2. German Soldier in No Man's Land: Running away is all the have.
    3. British Trench Soldier #1: And yet we've tell 'em different.
    – Submitted by Summer K (13 months ago)
    1. British Trench Soldier #2: How about boxing?
    2. German Trench Soldier #1: Not thanks, pet. Don't want to start a war.
    – Submitted by Summer K (13 months ago)
    1. British Trench Soldier #1: Gas! Gas! Gas!
    2. Andrew Easton: ...Albie...
    – Submitted by Zach S (14 months ago)
    1. Major Jamie Stewart: Be brave! Be brave!
    – Submitted by Typhon Q (19 months ago)
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