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War Horse Reviews

Page 1 of 282
Liam G

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

July 6, 2011
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?
Louis R

Super Reviewer

January 5, 2013
No thanks, Steve.

Super Reviewer

December 21, 2012
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.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 22, 2012
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.
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

October 24, 2011
Wonderful movie. Reminiscent of "Family Classics" type of movies from my childhood. Tugs at your heartstrings. Cinematically beautiful. Just an all round well done film...
Dan S

Super Reviewer

August 20, 2012
A solid, old-fashioned story of a horse and his boy, taking place during the days of WWI and how the horse and boy are separated due to the war, and how they seem destined to get back together. While occasionally corny, predictable, and just flat-out flawed, Spielberg's soaring, masterful scope of his settings keeps this thing utterly hypnotizing. It gets off to a rough start but it becomes incredibly interesting mid-way through, including a tear-jerking finale that is wonderfully executed, although admittedly in a very Hollywood style. Not Spielberg's best film by a long shot, but still a solid entry into his decorated resume that features some of the most gorgeous settings in a movie I have seen in quite some time.
Bobby H

Super Reviewer

May 27, 2012
What I really loved about 'War Horse' was the entire different angle on warfare. For once, we didn't focus on a single being or a single 'side' but yet we seen the horrors of war from both perspectives and not only from the different soldiers perspective but from the civilian perspectives. Furthermore, the movie showed a ton of different angles within the war (not stuck on a single foot soldier, air unit, etc).

I was totally skeptical about a 2 and a half hour movie that done nothing but follow a horse around the war but the insight in which it gave us to the war and numerous viewpoints while also keeping us intrigued from the perspective of an animal's role in the war, it presented its piece well, and I truly enjoyed it. It was a beautiful film that I would without a doubt recommend to anyone interested in this historical period or just in horses in general.

The only way I'd recommend not seeing this movie is if you cannot stomach the ill treatment of animals (not a fault of the movie however; simply reality) or you just don't like long movies. As I said, I felt it did a pretty great job at holding someone's attention, all the same it was quite long and I don't know if it's a movie I could sit through numerous times at that length but it without a doubt is worth a watch.
Al S

Super Reviewer

April 26, 2012
An extroadinary masterpiece of a film. Director, Steven Spielberg has crafted another film classic. A spectacular and breathtaking adventure of friendship and loyalty. It`s brilliant, heart-pounding, deeply moving and flat-out exhilerating. A heart-warming and gripping movie that just takes hold of you and wont let go. One of the most inspiring and uplifting films i`ve seen in a long time. The all-star cast is amazing. From newcomer, Jeremy Irvine in his heart-wrenching role, to Peter Mullen and Emily Watson, to Tom Hiddleston, and to Toby Kebbell and Liam Cunningham, all theses performances are magnificent. This movie is a real gem
Christopher H

Super Reviewer

April 7, 2012
Spielberg does a great job in skillfully executing scenes, both in the battles and the verbal drama. I liked the episodic nature of the film as the the story follows the horse's journeys across the landscape of World War 1 in order to get home. All the while the horse encounters multiple sides of the war and the effects it has on the lives of the people experiencing it. There are plenty of great scenes in the film that I won't spoil because they have to be seen to fully be appreciated. Yeah, I will admit it can get heavy-handedly sentimental at times, but the film presents itself in such a proud and confident manner that it becomes hard to not be effected by it. During the film I found myself caring for the horse and hoping he would get home, which is an achievement within itself. I cannot forget the wonderful score by John Williams, which lends a good hand in bringing out the raw emotion of the film's drama. Despite the film's slightly contrived feel-good ending, "War Horse" still comes out strong as one of the better "2000's" Spielberg productions.

Super Reviewer

August 3, 2010
Lassie Come Home with spurs. Decent family entertainment but it's so polished and contrived that, at times, it's unintentionally funny.

Super Reviewer

April 9, 2012
War Horse is a stunning looking but is heavily flawed, and tries far too hard at delivering sentimental moments. I liked the film, but I think that films on horses are getting tiring and cliché. Though a good film, War Horse tends to navigate the same familiar territory as Hidalgo and Seabiscuit. Set during the first World War, and telling the story of how horses were an integral part of the war effort; at the center of the film is a boy named Albert and his horse named Joey. Joey gets taken away from Albert and becomes a cavalry horse. Albert enlists to find Joey. War Horse is a good film, but I just thought it had too many moments that Spielberg tried to include to make the film more emotional. I think they should have stuck with facts. War Horse tends to be too sentimental. The fact that the film waters down the real effect of doesn't seem genuine. I really think that the filmmakers could have blended the terror of war with sentimental issues. War Horse omits key elements to really make this a stand out war epic. The film tries way too hard at delivering tear jerking moments while minimizing the real story of horses in combat during the First World War. Spielberg aimed for a family film, and this is what it is, if you're a history buff like me, and want authenticity then you might be slightly disappointed. There's some good battle scenes in the film, but the films script is peppered with feel good clichés that cheapen the film a bit. If they would have balanced out the material to include a lot more war elements. War Horse a war film that is more family friendly than anything. If you want a straight up war film, you won't find it here. By the films end, there's just so emphasis on a feel good ending that it just isn't interesting. I felt the film could have been shorter, and honestly I was expecting something more from this one. The film could have toned down the feel good elements and focused more on the chaos of war, which is something that was very much missing. We saw a bit of the chaos of war, but Spielberg peppered the film with too many feel good clichés that in the end make this film not as good as what everyone has claimed it to be.

Super Reviewer

June 21, 2011
War Horse is an incredible war drama in almost every way, it's almost hard to describe the beauty and near perfection in this film that is another example that Spielberg still has the film making skills that he has always had and still is able to make us feel like we spent our money and time on a masterpiece. It is one of the few World War 1 films I have seen so I was very excited to learn more about this horrible era of time. It is also a very dramatic film, as I expected I felt emotion for what was going on and I felt a happy kind of sadness at the conclusion that Spielberg does in many of his drama films.

The story follows a horse named Joey, who is raised by a teen named Albert (Jeremy Irvine) who both grow to be best friends and after a few years he is sold to the army for World War I, and the film then follows the Joeys journey as he meets many different people and hopes to return to Albert one day. Along Joeys journey he meets many new people and experiences which forms him to be a very brave and heroic horse that will do anything to return to his owner and best friend.

The plot is just as incredible and great for a Spielberg film as I anticipated. The story makes us care about these two best friends and then shows us the horrors of the first World War. As we anticipate Joeys unknown fate we are given many different characters who some we dislike but I found myself caring about most of the characters in this film, no matter what side of the war they were on most of them were just good hearted people serving their country or trying to outlast the war. But the truly best character was the horse Joey as you probably already could tell from the title of the film is the star. It's hard to make you care for an animal this much but all I wanted was for the horse to end up safe and so I can honestly say this is a character driven story that I really loved.

The cast is hard to say whether they were good or bad, because truly the star of the film is the horse who I can honestly say plays the best performance from an animal I have ever seen, and as for Jeremy Irvine, I would consider him the main human actor and he did not play an incredible performance but then I remembered that he is younger and just starting out in acting so for a newer actor I think he did a very nice performance but I still don't think he was ready for a role like this. As for the rest of the cast they all played good parts and all contributed to the greatness of the character they were playing, so overall a good cast I think, but I said it before and I will say it again, the horse is the star and the hero.

The war scenes of the movie were one of the best highlights. There is one war scene showing trench warfare and Albert fighting his way across the battlefield and I was fully engaged with what was going on. Spielberg can truly make a great war film, anyone who disagrees needs to get a second opinion.

The film score is as incredible as I expected a Spielberg film to be. I always say that the music is one of the main things that give a movie its feel and that is the case with War Horse as well. I truly felt emotion with the film whenever the music was playing because it shows us the mood of what was happening in the story.

This movie is another Spielberg work of genius as he ends 2011 with an incredible and dramatic war film that is driven by a horse character and the way Spielberg was able to make an entire film on a horse is beyond me but it works greatly, and although my main problem was I would have picked someone else for the role of Albert because I don't think Jeremy Irvine was ready for a role like this, but this is a small problem compared to the genius of everything else in the movie. War Horse was criticized by some critics that Spielberg was only trying to make a film that would win some Oscars, well you know what I say to them, their is nothing wrong with trying to make a great film, and if that is what Spielberg was going for he succeeded, he has made a great film.

Super Reviewer

January 11, 2012
Dull, gay and embarrassing. The worst thing Spielberg has ever done.A movie like this, can easily ruin Spielberg's long time reputation.
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

January 16, 2012
War Horse is a brilliantly executed nostalgic anti war film. Not only does it contain some of the best footage Spielberg has ever directed (this includes both action sequences and times of verbal drama) but presented from a completely non biased approach, it's still jam packed with thrills, laughs, drama and remarkable emotional depth. That's not to say that it's not a bit too schmultsy.
Jens S

Super Reviewer

October 26, 2011
You have to admit, at a first superficial glance this seems to be a film for girls who pin horse posters on their walls and take riding lessons twice a week. And the first twenty minutes stick to that romantic stereotype of the young boy admiring the young horse and raising it against everyone's expectations in a beautiful landscape. That's rather cheesy, but gorgeously filmed and rather charming at the same time. Then World War 1 starts and the two friends are separated. We now follow the horse, or rather its different owners, through the horrors of war. While Spielberg tries not to top the first twenty minutes of his "Saving Private Ryan" D-day sequence, he's obviously in his element when filming exciting cavalrymen attacks or gloomy trench battles, images everyone connects with WW1 but have never been filmed as impressively as here. Spielberg's camera man Janusz Kaminski once again delivers images that stay with you for a long time. Of course the plot works because it is smarter than sticking to a rather tongue-tied horse as protagonist, instead we get glimpses at the lives of the people who encounter it. With only few scenes the film makes us care for them and pity their downfall, without ever going overboard with drama. The highlight of the film, the barb wire scene, is as unexpected as sweet and moving. The acting, especially in the minor roles, is top notch. Geeks could also have fun finding Tom "Loki" Hiddleston and Benedict "Sherlock" Cumberbatch here. To top it all, Composer John Williams wrote one of his most memorable scores of the last ten years
Many directors would have failed making a compelling film from this material, but Spielberg knows exactly which buttons to push and against your better judgement everyone with a heart will get watery eyes at some point throughout this film. Impressive.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

February 24, 2012
Even if technically efficient, this heavy-handed melodrama directed by Spielberg follows a "miraculous horse" and his inexpressive owner in an overlong journey towards making the audience cry at all costs. An overly sentimental soap opera that lacks any real sensibility.

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2012
"Separated by war. Tested by battle. Bound by friendship."

Young Albert enlists to serve in World War I after his beloved horse is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on.

How does war affect individuals? Civilians caught in the midst of infantry, soldiers embroiled in battle, and the horses that lead the Calvary? War Horse is the story of a horse named Joey, sold into the British Army at the start of World War I. What director Steven Spielberg does is weave a tapestry of war from Joey's point-of-view. Throughout the flick, Joey changes masters multiple times due to the horrors and atrocities of war, the only constant in all of these scenes is Joey, and Spielberg manages to convey what Joey is thinking or feeling through the camera movement and juxtaposition of shots. Through breathtaking scope, solid acting from the rounded cast of character actors, and the exquisitely realized, highly kinetic action sequences that is Spielberg's forte, War Horse gallops across the screen with verve.

Where the flick works best is the vignette's of each person that Joey deals with across his journey: from the British boy who raised him, to the British Calvary, to the German Army, all the way to a French farm girl and her grandfather. War Horse is an examination of war and how compassion survives within toughest times. The compassion that the individuals who meet Joey show for the horse, often saving his life, to the compassion between the individuals that Joey meets and how they feel for one another. Ultimately, war is ugly business that those involved are not fighting for their country's victory, but to keep themselves alive as well as those that they love, shown by two German brothers who desert the German Army to ensure that they stay together. Simply put, War Horse is compassion. Throughout all of mankind, one of the most overwhelming bonds that exists is the love of a pet, a dog, a cat, or even a horse. People remember them, love them, treat them as if they're human, and will fight to ensure their safety. Even years later, they hold those animals in their hearts, and are united with others due to compassion that all share for the animals that they once loved or still love.
Edward B

Super Reviewer

February 12, 2012
Seriously Spielberg? Seriously? Look, I enjoy dramatic movies that are designed pretty much to stir tears in your eyes, and Steven Spielberg has made some pretty strong films of that ilk, but War Horse takes things to another extreme. I admit I haven't read the novel, and a Broadway play will be opening up in the next couple months in Toronto, but this movie leaves me with no desire to seek out either of those versions of the story.
For the first hour of this movie, I consistently rolled my eyes at the cheesy, predictable, and heavy handed set up of Albert, a young farm boy who strikes a friendship with a newly acquired horse he's named Joey. Much is expected of Joey in terms of plowing the fields as Albert's father foolishly paid too much for the damn animal (don't ask me to feel sorry for the family; this father is an idiot of a businessman). Of course, Joey is stubborn, but after a few moments of Albert pleading with Joey and almost ready to give up on the horse, John Williams' booming, overly-sentimental music will kick in and the horse will pull through.
Just as a storm destroys the farm's crops, Albert's father is forced to sell Joey to the English army, who just declared war with Germany. (Cue laughable scene of Albert hugging Joey and swearing he will be reunited with him one day.) Then, surprisingly, I started to get interested in the movie. As the years go by, the English soldier who rides Joey is killed in a battle, and the horse passes on to two German soldiers. These soldiers are also killed and Joey then ends up in the hands of a little peasant girl who has lost her parents in the war. I became intrigued in where this story was going - seeing many aspects of World War 1 from the perspective of this horse. I decided to give the movie another chance.
But of course, the third act of the film has Albert reunited with his animal friend in a ridiculously improbable circumstance. Predictable plot points designed with the sole purpose of manipulating the audience to tears happen almost every five minutes, and the final twenty minutes are just full of such over the top, sappy, corny, ridiculous sentiment, it made my eyes widen as I realized what a bad movie this really is.
There's very little wrong from a technical aspect. It's gorgeously shot, the acting is decent, the scope is epic, and the pacing is well edited. But that's to be expected from a Spielberg film, who has all the money in the world to throw into his productions. What kills this movie is Spielberg's heavy handed approach, which in the case of War Horse, gives the term heavy handed an entirely new meaning.
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