Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Movie Review: "War Horse"

After not seeing War Horse when we had some opportunities to, we finally made the time last night. It's a good movie. It's now at the end of its run. Only seven of us saw the 7:10 PM showing last night. I can't imagine they would have many at the 10:20 PM showing, not in this retirement community. So this review probably comes too late to help anyone else make a decision of whether to see it or not. But review it I shall.
It's the story of a boy and his horse in Scotland. The boy's dad, a closet drunk, buys a thoroughbred yearling at auction, for a ridiculous price, when he's supposed to buy a work horse. Somehow the boy trains the horse, and gets him to plow. But due to the price of the horse and farm losses, the family can't make the rent. So the tenant farmer sells the horse, the only thing of real value that he has, to the army, as England is about to fight what we now call World War 1. As the boy and his horse part, he vows to find the horse wherever he is. The boy is too young to enlist, though not by much.

The bulk of the movie follows the horse, Joey, as his officer-owner falls in the first action, he's taken by the Germans, he winds up with a French jam maker and his granddaughter, ends up back with one side in the war, then the next, then gets caught in no man's land. He is rescued from there by the combined efforts of a British soldier and a German soldier under a mini-truce, and, though severely injured from barb wire, is led back to the British side. The boy who trained him is now in the Army in that very sector of a long, long front, his eyes bandaged after a gas attack. When he hears that a special horse has just been rescued, he figures it's Joey, whistles for him, and the horse responds just before being put out of its misery because of its injuries.

As I said, it's a good movie. But I was a bit disappointed. I didn't think the trailers did much to clue us in as to what the story was about. The reliance on coincidence to bring Albert and Joey together at the front is a bit hard to take. Some of the special effects, such as a snowstorm near the end (or was that flying ash, I wasn't sure), could have been better.

On the other hand, the depiction of how the war destroyed the land was excellent. The scene where Joey was part of a horse team pulling artillery was excellent. The home scenes before the war were great.

Maybe the build-up of the movie was over done, and caused me to set my expectations too high. I was expecting a once in a decade production, and all I got was a great, great movie. If you have a chance, if it stays around in theatres a bit longer, by all means see it. It was good wholesome entertainment, and the $9.00 I paid (two seniors tickets) was well spent.

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