WAR HORSE! Well, 90 minutes of it, anyway. Because of being given the wrong starting time for the advance screening, and a prior commitment to interview French filmmaker Cedric Klapisch, TrustMovies simply had to leave with nearly a full hour left to view. Now that the film has officially opened -- today, in theaters everywhere, as they say -- he will certainly go back and catch that last hour (he did: see final paragraph below). So, consider the following not exactly a review but a recommendation -- because that first hour-and-a-half is supremely entertaining, beautiful to view and full of strong performances (from animals and humans) that pull you in and keep you there. (Post-screening, TM's daughter and ex-wife both claimed the last portion of the film to be even more powerful than the first.)
Steven Spielberg (shown at left), the film's director, is no stranger to blockbusters nor to family films. This one, rated PG-13, is not for the younger children (or any older ones or adults) who may grow upset seeing beautiful animals put in harm's way. For the rest of us, the movie works, as much because of this director's love of cliché and how to use it as anything else. Few filmmakers are so able to give us the tried-and-true as though it were new -- and then succeed in making it so. Much of the time, anyway.
Michael Morpurgo's novel by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis), though we know just about everything that's going to happen from our consumption of so many earlier movies, this does not make most of what occurs any less engaging or lively.
Niels Arestrup, above, right, and newcomer Celine Buckens, at left) seems particularly heavy-handed and unbelievable. Fortunately, this ends rather abruptly, and we can get on with the show.
Peter Mullan), above right; son (Jeremy Irvine), center; mother (Emily Watson, center left) and their landlord (David Thewlis, seated left) and the procurement of the horse and its training, we then go to war, along with that horse and, eventually, the son.
Empire of the Sun and A.I., but when I see something as accomplished as War Horse, I am able to appreciate what this director can do, even if the film may not be among my favorites of the year.
Touchstone Pictures and Dreamworks, opens today, Christmas 2011. Click here to find a theater near you.