standard MOVIE REVIEW – Steven Spielberg’s War Horse

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War Horse Poster

War Horse

  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: PG-13
  • U.S. Release date: December 25, 2011
  • Cast: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Kebbell
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Producers: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy
  • Executive Producers: Frank Marshall, Revel Guest
  • Screenplay by: Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
  • Based on the book by: Michael Morpurgo and the recent stage play by Nick Stafford, produced by the National Theatre of Great Britain and directed by Tom Morris and Marianne Elliot

The first time that I heard of the movie War Horse was when I was invited to the red carpet premiere, held in New York City earlier this month. The first thing that came to mind was “War Horse. Sounds like a war movie. Really?” I’m one of those people that usually takes a nap or does something else when a war movie or documentary about war is on, they’re just not a good fit for me. I did a little research and learned that the movie War Horse was based on a children’s novel by the same name published in 1982. Ok, that doesn’t sound so bad. Plus it’s directed by Steven Spielberg, who’s been involved with other movies that I wasn’t sure if I’d like such as Real Steel, Men In Black, Back To The Future and ET. If Steven Spielberg is involved that’s saying a lot, because he is such a talented man – so many of his projects are top grossing movies that have gained lots of attention, he has a magic touch. I find it so interesting that Spielberg actually dropped out of college to work in the film industry. So much for my argument to my son that he needs to go to college and get an education to be successful… Anyway.

The movie War Horse is set in rural England and starts in the time leading up to the First World War. Albert, the main character, is drawn to the thoroughbred horse Joey from the first time he sees it. His father happens to purchase that same horse at an auction instead of the work horse he’d gone to bid on. The family being able to stay in their home on the farm they rent depends on them getting fields plowed and crops planted, so that they can make money. Albert feels he can train Joey to pull the plow, everyone else including his father says that Joey isn’t strong enough. Training the horse isn’t looking promising, but Albert doesn’t give up. Albert’s bond with Joey strengthens, and the level of trust between him and Joey becomes incredibly strong, and to everyone’s surprise, Joey learns to pull a plow. Shortly after that war is declared. Desperately in need of money, Albert’s father sells Joey to an officer in the Army. Albert is absolutely devastated, and tries to join the Army. He is too young to do so, but the officer promises he will care for Joey as his own and moves out, leaving Albert absolutely heartbroken and watching Joey be led away.

The next portion of the movie focuses on Joey and his part in the British Army and the war. I half thought that the war scenes would be gory, but they weren’t – while sad, they were tastefully done. When the officer is caught, Joey is taken by the German army. The only thing that saves him from being put to death is his ability to wear a harness and pull. The German officer in charge of horse care also realizes he is a special horse and lets him go rather then see him endure the torture of pulling artillery that even work horses are suffering through. Joey finds his way to a young French girl and her grandfather, who take him in. Joey is loved there, until he is forcibly taken by the German soldiers. At that point Albert has made his way into the Army and has continued his quest to find Joey. To find out if they will be reunited and who will find who you’ll have to watch for yourself. Don’t worry, it’s totally worth the watch. And be sure to bring tissues with you.

There’s something moving.
It’s a horse.
What kind of a horse?
A miraculous horse.

Those words come from a trench scene in the latter part of the movie, in No Mans Land. When you watch the movie and see this scene you can’t help but agree that the horse in question is a miraculous horse. After watching the movie I felt that War Horse itself was miraculous. War Horse was not the war movie I’d expected it to be. It is a movie about war, yes, but it’s also a movie about love, friendship, determination, humanity, loyalty and much more. It told a story, it depicted absolute loyalty and pure love, it taught a lesson on history and humanity, and most of all it touched my emotions. I loved it. Now, when I see the commercial I frequently find my eyes tearing up remembering the movie. War Horse is moving. It’s already been nominated for awards and I have no doubt that more nominations will come – it’s that good. It’s actually better then good, it’s epic. It’s a riveting film that folks will be watching for years and years.

War Horse will march proudly into theaters around the country this weekend, on Christmas Day, December 25, 2011. It’s a powerful movie that will move you. In the beginning of the movie Joey was a foal waiting to grow and come into his own, just as the movie War Horse is a young movie waiting to grow into the hit and future classic it is destined to be. I truly recommend that you go see it.

Here’s the official trailer for the movie War Horse.

War Horse opens in theaters on December 25, 2011. Christmas Day.

If you’re interested in hearing more about the film, be sure to check out this Q & A with Steven Spielberg.

Website and Mobile site: warhorsemovie.com
War Horse on Facebook: facebook.com/WarHorseMovie
War Horse on Twitter: twitter.com/warhorsemovie
War Horse YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/WarHorseMovie

Scholastic has a War Horse Teachers Guide containing printable activities and lesson plans.

All expenses were covered by Disney & DreamWorks. Please note that as always my opinions are my own, and that the opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

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About the Author

NJ Mom of 2 boys. – TJ, an 18 year old, and CJ, a 14 year old with Down Syndrome. Jersey girl. I have three younger brothers, all of whom have children. Social media enthusiast. Ds Advocate. Cat person. I love rock music, favorite band is Oleander. I HATE the misuse of the word retarded. I take it personally and find it very offensive.

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