Saturday, January 07, 2012

"War Horse" (2011) - Movie Review

Although “War Horse” is a film for kids, it is the most sappiest and melodramatic romantic film since “27 Dresses”. Yes it is a romantic film about a boy and several others in love with this horse. I decided to be selective in my film watching after the aforementioned disaster of a film “27 Dresses” and you have to agree that Steven Spielberg qualifies as a better bet than Katherine Heigl. This film as one of Spielberg’s earliest ventures “The Terminal” unabashedly goes for the overdramatic emotional kill right from the start and never turns back.

Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo, this is the story of course of a horse that becomes a young boy’s pet, a drunk’s stupid buy, an officer’s horse, eventually a war horse, a young girl’s substitute for pony and then becomes another horse’s friend, then solves World War - I. If it had survived its years through World War - II and several others till now, it might have calmed the energy crisis and the Republican primary.

To have a central character that does not have lines needs anchor of supporting characters and a cast to hold it steady and strong. Here they get the cast but they are put through ordeals of spurting terrible lines that would put Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in latest Mission Impossible to shame. The lovely animal is majestic and Stephen Spielberg employs a stellar coverage of its mad run only in the end instead of several other opportunities for excellent stunts.

In the old English land of Devon is Albert (Jeremy Irvine), young boy destined to be that kid who is cherubic to care for this respectful beast. His father is a war veteran and a qualified drunk with a loyal and weirdly supporting wife. Emily Watson is the lovely woman to tell the tales of Albert’s bravery and how he should give the old man sympathy for being a stupid drunk and not appreciating his kid’s hard work. The kid of course believes in this horse that every one are dead set against of not being the horse to plow the fields. You know where it is going. Against all odds it would do the job, then it would keep on doing great things while every one suspected it to. This goes on for hour and half. We get it, this horse is awesome.

As the horse shifts places going through war zone and having a bad omen of killing few of its owners, we see several characters that are put there to build something with invisible strong suits. Right from the officer who is plainly courteous and most accommodative of the boy’s zeal in keeping his horse, he sends pictures and cajole’s the boy’s early pet loss. Of course they would be reunited and make love, oops scratch the last part. This reviewer does not encourage bestiality.

I am all for great inspiring stories with justifiable amount of sappiness. Take this film “Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story” where a horse against all odds becomes a strongest one and organically gets the audience to root for it. There we had wonderful supporting casts of Dakota Fanning and Kurt Russell, but more than that are the screenplay and the story that falls through in a manner that does not decimate its audience into something of a reality TV participants begging for drama. In fact in “War Horse” the horse Joey lands up in the hands of a young girl and her grand father. Supposedly the warm relationship both of these share and the horse boosting that into another level was the agenda that becomes a non-calorie burning emotional work out.

The so-called crucial scenes that includes battle, reunion and drama are not punctuated but splashed with the ugliest paints of overly manipulated cinematography and screenplay. There is a horse race between the officers where it is a clear day and suddenly when the race begins everyone comes out of the fog. That is one such scene and “War Horse” has ton of it. And when war is happening around and wounded soldiers are in numerous begging for attention, everyone suddenly takes time to give horse a chance to find its owner. And why the heck everyone has to stand up when the animal is being brought? There is this annoying beckoning in those scenes where all the members on the screen does not have a life of their own or there is no surrounding. It is purely about these two that is pestering on your face.

I have seen films for children in animation and live action that feeds the required amplification of certain drama but also treats it with intelligence. Steven Spielberg’s film is shameless in its emotional exploitation and the medium itself is such that but in this it cannot be more obvious thus minimizing the aptitude of its audience. There could have been sensible wonderful scenes of genuine drama. Take the scene where two soldiers from opposition front come to no man’s land to aid the horse and see how blandly it gets constructed and executed. Fraternization in World War - I got brilliantly depicted in “Joyeux Noel” which provides the same emotional pay off much more convincingly and rightfully. Spielberg’s horse endures several things rummaging through mud, barbwire, bullets, bombs and mad people but I am sure it cannot endure this film.

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