War Horse

Today we went to see the new movie War Horse, based on a book by the same name, and directed by Steven Spielberg. I already had expectations for it because the novel was my favorite book when I was in fourth and fifth grade.

Quick synopsis: Young Albert enlists to service in WWI after his beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the cavalry. Albert’s hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on.  (IMDb)

Altogether, the best way I can think to describe it is it’s exactly what it sounds like. “War Horse”– it’s like Modern Warfare x Black Beauty. The first five minutes could probably have been taken directly from any other “story about a horse and kid” movie. (Kid sees horse in pain, hides, men try to relax horse, BAM, horse gives birth, new baby stands and nickers, kid smiles, timeskip five years or so, horse runs with mom around paddock while kid watches, sighing ominously.)

Then it lags in the introduction, making everything blatantly obvious and setting up the whole movie in a Disney fashion. I was kind of surprised, seeing as some of the biggest names in the industry worked on this movie. They couldn’t have been a bit creative?

Within a few seconds, it manages to transform from your typical feel-good Disney to an all-out brutal war movie. While there’s no blood, or anything particularly graphic, there’s definitely a lot of death. You get aerial views of battlefields, soliders dying left and right, and then switch until you’re riding along with Joey and Topthorn, watching their riders slaughter the opposition.

The movie transitions between the two–sweet to unsettling–rather quickly.

Almost all my favorite parts of the book were put into the movie, and nothing was added that didn’t keep the spirit of the novel. While the mood of the movie felt different, and I cried in different places in each, overall I’m pleased with Spielberg’s adaption. I think the conclusion to the movie was a lot more satisfying than the book, even if it was more open-ended.

I’d recommend seeing the movie, especially if you A) like Black Beauty, Sebiscuit, Secretariat, Flicka, Dreamer, etc, and B) don’t mind some pretty brutal war scenes.

And for goodness’ sake, READ THE BOOK! It’s a kids’ book, shouldn’t take you longer than an hour. But I still tear up thinking about certain parts. Compare it to Where the Red Fern Grows in that respect.

About Aloha

A teen writer and future world ruler. Llamas make me happy.
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7 Responses to War Horse

  1. Matt Stewart says:

    I don’t think I will love this film, but honestly the Academy is going to jump all over it. As of now it has a legitimate shot at Best Picture…

    Good review!

  2. It is nice to see a current treatment of the Great War which is now largely forgotten but yet so formative for the 20th Century. The juxtaposition of horses and 19th Century tactics with mechanized warfare was haunting. From the soldier’s point of view, dead horses behind the lines were a great source of extra food if they were not contaminated with gas: http://worldwar1letters.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/somewhere-in-france-7101918/

  3. melsar93 says:

    We have a running joke in our family about Horse movies. I’m not sure when it happened, but some time in the last decade is seems like the only PG movies are either cartoons or Horse movies. (Sometimes you can find a dog movie, but it’s about the same). As a result whenever I am looking on Netflix for a family movie I often find horse movies. This started a couple years ago and for a while I got away with it. We would watch a horse movie about once a month (Dreamer, Flicka, Black Stallion, Black Stallion Returns – you know the ones.) Now I have specific instructions when picking a movie that it cannot be a horse movie.

    [Little known fact: One of my weekly blog themes that didn’t make the cut was Horse Movie week.]

  4. CMrok93 says:

    Without a doubt, this is Spielberg trying his hardest to manipulate the hell out of his audience but it somehow works and brought me into the story despite some of the very corny moments. Great review.

  5. Alice Hutcherson Mellark says:

    Great review! I am hoping to see this soon, it looks pretty good!

  6. onwindydays says:

    I just saw this today, and I thought it was great! 😀 Hmm, I might have to check out the book though.

  7. The Hook says:

    My father-in-law wants to see this one – his father was in the cavalry – so thank you for the review. Good work.

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