Watership Down - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Watership Down Reviews

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Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
August 16, 2011
Watership Down shows faithfulness and outmost respect for the novel. I admire the choice to go in the direction of adults for a film that features bunnies. It's amazing how a cartoon can really push the barriers for emotional impact. It's suprisingly gory (it was a pleasant one). I cry when I watch Watership Down. It's an underated animated jewel that one day will be appreciated for it's majesty. An absolute classic, among my favorite films.
Matthew Roe
Super Reviewer
½ September 27, 2011
This is possibly one of those innovative animated tales that is nowhere near recognized for the strength and creativity it has. Watership Down is a story that makes Bambi looked entirely phoned in and misguided (not saying it is). Strong in voice acting and stunning artwork, this film starts off just a little lacking in the animation department, but that changes less than ten minutes in, for you are taken away by the complexity, drama and overall tension of the story and environment. And not only this, the film is created in such a way that it is far more suitable for adults than children, even if it is centered around a collection of rabbits and their search for a new home. Most likely where Charles Grosvenor got the plotline for his much more "kids-friendly" film Once Upon A Forest, Watership Down is edgy, dramatic, truly beautiful and wonderfully engrossing, one of the best animated films I have ever seen.
Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2006
Such a great movie, loved it as a kid and still stands up today. Brings a tear to my everytime I watch it.
Super Reviewer
½ March 24, 2007
Like Dark Crystal and Wizard of Oz, it's one of those classic kids films that's almost guaranteed to scar your children for life.
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2008
loved it gr8 film little kids wouldnt understand it actually made me cry reli good film though
Super Reviewer
½ October 18, 2007
Classic Animation coupled with a great story and cute bunnies...not to mention much throat ripping. It was sad to see my favorite parts of the book either skipped or gone through so fast that something that took 100 pages in the book last for 5 minutes at best. Still, you got to fit it all into a movie. I just wish they had done more with El-harairharah and the Black Rabbit of Inle. Instead they had some dumb psychedelic floating bunny song by Art garfunkle.
Super Reviewer
December 23, 2006
Dark and powerful animation that both scared and captivated me as a child. One of the best adventure animations ever, following the travels of a bunch of rabbits seeking out a utopia in the English countryside. A Christmas favourite with the classic Art Garfunkel theme "Bright Eyes".
Super Reviewer
November 22, 2007
MOST TERRIFYING MOVIE OF MY LIFE. Also, when I read the book, it took me 100 pages to realize it was about rabbits. Fuck off I was 9.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2007
Nicely drawn animation. It's rather violent and scary for young children, not to mention that it is quite boring. I would rather watch Ice Age.
Super Reviewer
June 3, 2007
A timeless classic with a great voice cast. If a cartoon could make you cry this would be it!
Super Reviewer
½ May 22, 2007
Unique animation and vision of a classic book, which shows its age and its attempts to lower an adult story down to a childs level at times... but nevertheless captures its rather adult themes.

It made me run out of my room at age 7 yelling at my parents "Why are you letting me watch a film about DEATH!?!" Frankly, that is exactly what the movie should have done to a young child: it got the subject matter pretty dead-on.
Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2007
The classic childrens book still holds emotional resonance, and the superior voice cast and imaginative visuals make it a cut above the usual family fare.
Super Reviewer
June 26, 2013
The animation genre is the most enduring genre for lighthearted family entertainment. With their colorful visuals and freely imaginative world this sort of escapism is the main reason Watership Down is not recognized as a classic. It's not a lighthearted or cheery family film of any sort one simply just sit back and view. It's more of a reflection on yourself and the nature of the living world. Not only it is a significant piece of animation tackling real world issues, but also carries an uncommonly powerful emotional weight for such an unlikely group of character.

Watership Down is about a group of rabbits fleeing their doomed warren and facing many dangers to find and protect their new home. The premise despite sounding like it's aimed at children does not seccumb to downplaying its premise. It even goes as far as tackling sadism, fascism, and creationism into the mix. Telling a mature story with an adult delivery. The plot is very dark more so than you might expect. It explores the subject of death and survival as we experience the dangerous and tragic journey with our rabbits. The rabbits are constantly fighting against their environment for a better home. What would have simply been a plot point in another film can be linked to how society breaks down, debate between those who want freedom from the old ways, and those who still cling on to it with power. On the surface it's an effective film about survival with relatable characters regardless of the species difference. Underneath it is level of depth that gives the film a far more rewarding intellectual experience.

Martin's Rosen direction for the film is flawless. The animation employs richly detailed hazy watercolor backdrops with naturalistic colors to the characters that inhabit it. This creates a sense of a realism into the world fitting into the mood it presents. One of the biggest highlights is the divine music combined with the Aztec style animations as Fiver tries to find Hazel, a simultaneous mixture of uplifting and depressing feel. This one scene will leave you lost for words. The voice talent on offer ranging from Denholm Elliot to Richard Briers is nothing short of perfect. The voice actor portray their roles with such dedication that the fact they're talking animals won't bother you and in the case of Harry Andrews he comes off as menacing as General Woundwort despite voicing a rabbit.

Going off topic I already feel I made my point by now on what makes Watership Down an under-appreciated masterpiece. Bold statement I know to call such an unknown film a masterpiece, but here's another reason why I personally see it that way. Often the first thing that goes to anyone mind when it comes to animation is Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Studio Ghibli, and so many other studios. It's mostly the cheering and family friendly feature that are most fondly remembered by their audiences. As with the case with many of these film the message delivery contains a simple execution, bright colors, and a single moral around it. That's where Watership Down stands out from the pack. It's more gritty, not afraid to frighten to kids, and show kids the more complicated dilemma of the world the way they are. I hold a belief that kids can handle anything you throw at them so long you provide a ending with your story. The ending here is bittersweet, but the last images that play out is one of an enlighten mood of outcome.

Watership Down is a masterpiece that best represent animation and goes beyond what is expected of such a genre. From a dramatic standpoint it is tragic, uplifting, inspirational, and bittersweet. Even if you don't read into the depths of it plot it holds moving story about survival. Containing themes and character relatable present in everyday life. Making Watership Down one of the significant film animated films in in all of film making.
Super Reviewer
January 17, 2011
I think children will be horrified at the amount of gore depicted in this kids flick, but 'Watership Down' is entertaining and is a good story based on a well written book.
Bradley T. Johnson
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2012
Watership Down has a creative ending, and intense climax, but is just so utterly confusing for a film with such a simple overall story. The film has its moments of beauty and is refreshingly dark for a movie about bunnies, but it is little fun, and the animation is a bit lifeless. I did, however, enjoy the dark overtones and brutalness displayed throughout, I just wish it all came together in a more powerful way. Overall Rating: 61
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2012
I saw this in my childhood and it was too bloody for me. I did not fully appreciate it until I grew older. Now I think it is a masterpiece and very well-made in every way. The rabbit characters are personified and full of life. My favorites were Hazel, Bigwig, and Fiver.
Super Reviewer
January 3, 2016
It's as good as an adaptation of Adams' novel as we are likely to get, blending the hopeful fable elements with the moments of bleak violence pretty well. Bound to continue to traumatize generations of children for years to come.
Super Reviewer
December 20, 2007
It hasn't aged well and the story is lacking, but it's the darkness of it that really hits you. For an animated tale about rabbits searching for a new home, it's grim and goes places no Disney film ever will. Some might argue that nature is cruel, others might argue that this is TOO dark for small children. I found it even darker than Grave of the Fireflies. Very difficult to recommend.
Super Reviewer
August 9, 2007
Does a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of the book.
Super Reviewer
August 14, 2007
"All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and whenevet they catch you they will kill you. But first, they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, Prince with the Swift Warning. Be cunning and full of tricks and your people shall never be destroyed."
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