War Horse

War Horse certainly did not fail on cinematography

Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Michael Morpurgo
Released: 2011
Featuring: Emily Watson

Wow. What a spectacular disappointment.

So I went into the cinema with my tissues already to go, as I was expecting another epic Spielberg film which would be as shocking and as accurate as Saving Private Ryan and even more tragic and as touching as Black Beauty.

I was all like:


How I felt before War Horse – ready for a sad and heroic film


Me when the film began


Me when the film ended

Joey with horse

It seemed Joey and Albert could understand each other in English, no less, with nothing left to the imagination.

But no. I was forgiving at first; “Okay, the colt is played by a filly… I can get over that…” “Okay, the foal has different markings to the previous scene…” But then we got to Albert training the horse, Joey… And my suspension of disbelief was non existent when it was implied that the horse was trained by being spoken to – in English no less.

I mean the farmer dude was saying “hey Joey. Stay… Stay… Stay…. Now come here!” and the horse would come trotting over when he said so… I mean with NO previous training – that’s not possible. It takes at least a friggin month just to make my horse, Apache, learn basic ground manners such as “not biting” and “standing still”.

Believe you me, horses don’t learn things by being spoken at. (Although I couldn’t help but try it out on Apache when I got home… He looked at me weird then turned and walked away… Unfortunately I told him to “roll over and play dead”… I think we got somewhere though; he knew what I meant… You just wait, Spielberg, you just wait.)

hiddleston-warhorseNor do horses learn by copying a human such as when Albert wanted to put a harness on Joey. They obviously had two stunt horses; the first one threw his head around at the sight of the harness, but then Albert was all like; come on Joey we need you to plough the field… See you just put your nose through like this” [paraphrased] then the boy put his head through the harness to show the horse what he meant (smart guy).

Then, HEY PERESTO! The horse had learned and the other stunt horse who was trained to have a harness on seamlessly took the previous horse’s place and they were ready to go to plough the field! Warm and fuzzies… But, I. Mean. Seriously.  Oh my god and I was almost sick in my mouth when Joey ‘taught’ his horse friend how to put a harness on… Because that’s what horses would really do…

Emilie and the two main horses

Moving on from the horse, the human actors – to put it plainly – sucked ass. Some of the actor’s couldn’t quite hold their accents very well, such as Emilie (Celine Buckens) who was supposed to be a French girl yet she sounded English. (Hey I was right! I just checked Wikipedia and she is English.)

Some of the actors were very unbelievable, particularly on the battle fields, like when a soldier got shot in the leg, Albert helped him up and they both ran to safety… Ran to safety… Running to have your lunch break faster, Mr. Actor-Guy? Actually I watched that bit behind the scenes (2 minutes and 20 seconds in) on YouTube before I saw the actual film and I thought then that it looked fake… No retakes allowed, then Spielberg?

I didn’t shed a tear or feel upset AT ALL during this movie, except, perhaps, when it finished and I felt so disappointed that I may have had a wee sob in the corner…


I kept my cool at the end of War Horse…

I was expecting epic music like Danny Elfman’s in Black Beauty which makes you cry just listening to it. I was expecting fewer stereotypical scenes and realistic reactions from horses. But they had to give the animals human emotions… and the ability to understand English…

I think that’s what made this film go completely topsy-turvey,  that it was a horrific and graphic story that was seriously sugar coated making it sickly sweet. I believe it was aimed at the younger audiences who have recently been weened off of Disney films and ready to watch “big boy and girl films”. But Steven, it could have been A-MA-ZING if it was historically accurate!

WAR HORSE soldiersThere were two scenes, however, that had the potential to be memorable scenes if they didn’t try to shelter the audience so much. One was when two German soldiers were shot because they tried to escape the fight on horseback… but the windmill blocked your vision and the extreme wide shot added zero emotion to it.

War-horse_sillouetteThe other scene was when the English soldier surrendered to walk onto the battlefield to rescue ‘Joey’ from barbed wire and the German enemy came to help. Now this scene would have been so meaningful if it wasn’t for them being too casual with each other. It was pretty much the sort of conversation two old highschool bullies would have had if they met each other forty years later in a department store.
“Oh, I shouldn’t trust you because you tried to hurt me before.”
“And I shouldn’t trust you either”
“But the horse needs help… And the horse is on no body’s side…”
“You’re right. Here, I’ll help you free the horse!”
“Good idea! Lets be friends!”
“Best friends!”
[taken out of context somewhat]

Really?? This is war! Not something to be made light heartedly. Spielberg should know that – he made the most accurate WW2 movie in Hollywood’s history.

I don’t know if Steven Spielberg’s new hair style of long curly grey hair has made some of his talent and skill grow out with it, but it was extremely out of character of him to make such a lame film – which was very over-rated on Rotten Tomatoes who gave it an average rating of 7/10. I mean… Wow…

War-horse-2_fieldI expected Saving Private Ryan/Schindler’s List mixed with Black Beauty... Not Babe mixed with a film that should have gone straight to DVD…

I am so sorry to do this to you Spielberg – I have always been a fan of your historical films. I know my review may seem harsh, and I know I could have said that it was a “harmless, heart-warming, tear-jerking childs’ film on par with Babe and Dr. Dolittle“. But quite frankly, it was a little precious and stupid. But then again, nobody sets out to make a crappy film, so, better luck next time, I guess.

Jodie’s regretful and disappointing rating of: 3/10

Awwwww but the trailer looks so goooooood!! :( Especially the part where the horses are in the girl’s room. (But when you watch the film you see that to get to Emilie’s room, the horses would have had to climb up a staircase that looked like a ladder…)


About NZ Film Freak

I am a journalism graduate (2014) from New Zealand. Currently working as a writer in UK. Follow me on Twitter @NZFilmFreak and like my Facebook page NZ Film Freak. Follow my travels around the world www.jodiehart.co.nz
Gallery | This entry was posted in All Film Reviews, drama and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to War Horse

  1. Steve says:

    I haven’t seen the film. Now I won’t bother. Cheers.

  2. Anastasia says:

    Watched this film with family a couple of weeks ago & having read your blog couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Like you I REALLY wanted to like this film, but felt let down & dumbed down at the end – wish I’d read your HONEST review before I went!!!

  3. Pingback: The Horse Whisperer | The Film Freak of NZ

  4. Pingback: Goodbye, 2012! | The Film Freak of NZ

  5. Pingback: 10 Flaws in Horse Films | NZ Film Freak

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s