December 31, 2011

War Horse - 2011

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writers: Richard Curtis & Lee Hall
Starring: A bunch of humans who don't really matter

War Horse tells the tale of Joey, a colt-turned-plough horse that is forced into service when the British enter the Great War.

Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest living directors, with nearly forty years of one stellar film after another. Unfortunately, this one's a bit of a misstep in my book. Despite being a film version of a renowned play (in turn adapted from a book), I'm going to go out on a limb and say the true skill of the play was in the unique way that human performers portray the horses. My main issue with this film is the use of an animal as the protagonist. Sure, (mostly) children's films use animals as protagonists all the time, but there's one key difference: communication. The horse in this film, naturally, doesn't utter a single word, because this isn't that kind of movie. After getting to know the family who raises the horse in the first hour, we get treated to a revolving door of three separate sets of human characters (and not enough time to get attached to any of them). Maybe I'm alone, but I can't really get into a story when the main character can't tell me anything or show emotion. However, it's still shot beautifully, and maybe sometimes you don't need an Oscar-worthy performance to make a good film. B

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