Saturday, January 7, 2012

War Horse

Movie Name: War Horse
Year of Release: 2011
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Celine Buckens, Toby Kebbell, Patrick Kennedy, David Kross, Eddie Marsan
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Steven Spielberg is back, adapting the book from Michael Morpurgo, which has also been transposed to a very successful play. The film follows the story of Joey, a beautiful horse who is brought up in a small farm by a young man named Albert. Joey gets sold and goes through the horrors of the First World War, touching the lives of multiple people, and at the end of the war, reunites with Albert (who has also enlisted as part of the British Army).
Steven Spielberg has always been a director who knows how to create emotional scenes that resonate with the audience. In his best moments, such as "Schindler's List" or "Raiders of the Last Ark" for instance, there is the perfect combination of pure cinematic pleasure with a story that is engaging and resonating. "War Horse" however, is built almost exclusively as bait for awards season. The characters are barely defined, being none more than just archetypes, namely the strong mother, the young hero who goes to war, the alcoholic father with a good heart, the bad landlord and his selfish son, and the list goes on. There is nothing new in this film, and though Spielberg tries to create an old style (almost John Ford style), the film ultimately feels manipulative in the worst sense of the word. The pleasures from the stunning cinematography from Janusz Kaminski or the score from John Williams, don't hide the fact that ultimately this is a film that has already been done and seen, without the overly awards-pretense stigma that comes attached to it. A lesser effort from a great director.