'War Horse' tainted by weak, laughable plot (VIDEO)
Movie falls flat despite exceptional presentation, cinematography
Though nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Steven Spielberg's 2011 film War Horse fails due to its second-rate storyline. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence, War Horse runs for 146 minutes and is currently playing at most local theaters.
In honor of the 84th Academy Awards, The Feather will be reviewing each of the Best Picture nominees, excluding The Descendants, due to its rating. Although the films were all released in 2011, the reviews serve to refresh viewers' memories before the Oscars, Feb. 26.
During WWI a total of eight million horses died on the Western Front according to historylearningsite.co.uk. This one statistic supports why I found it impossible to fully engage in the plot of the recent Best Picture nominee War Horse, released Dec 25, 2011.
In the classic fashion of Steven Spielberg, the cinematography and overall presentation of the movie was flawless, however the storyline felt entirely elementary. I mean, the main character was a horse who could seemingly communicate with his master. Not exactly my top choice when it comes to great cinematic masterpieces.
I was virtually forced to see War Horse by my family over Christmas break. I had already formed a biased opinion solely based on the title.
The film begins by introducing Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine), who watches the birth of his beloved horse on a nearby farm, which his father (Peter Mullan) purchases in auction in place of a strong plough horse. Then, almost comically, Albert names his steed Joey -- a juvenile name that I find rather hilarious -- and trains him to work the fields in order to gain profit to pay for his family's property.
The officials clearly express unbelief in animals abilities; the story quickly turns in to a typical underdog -- or rather, underhorse story. At this point I knew to expect a feel good, old-fashioned, Disney-type movie.
Albert is devastated when his father sells Joey to aid the war effort and pay rent on the house. The film then follows the horse's journey through war, in and out of danger and the animals various owners.
Joey lands in the hands of two young German soldiers after they are captured in battle. The boys attempt to desert the war, but are caught and forced to leave their steed, who is found by a French girl. The animal thus enters possession of five handlers throughout the corse of the film.
Albert enlists later on in the movie and viewers watch as the horse and boy's tales intertwine at the climax. Miraculously, both characters live through the horrors of war to be reunited.
I'm not saying this film wasn't good, it was just unbelievable to the point of absurdity. The subject matter was intended to be intense and heartwarming, however the predictable plot left me with a cynical impression.
The collective tone, lighting and inventive angles create an inspiring story which is tainted by other, lacking elements. The acting was pretty good, but bits of the screenplay could not have sounded good coming out of any actors mouth. It was just rather cliche and sometimes even cheesy. On multiple occasions, a line reiterated something obvious.
"Though I understand many people enjoyed the movie, I do not feel that it fit my personal taste or preference. Every aspect was masterfully executed except the plot, which I consider the heart of a film." --Annalise Rosik, '14
Since the movie is based on a novel by Michael Morpurgo, Spielberg did not invent the story and therefore his reputation is not dented. Actually, the presentation of the plot stands unmatched, just the original story remained far-fetched. Overall, Spielberg made a visually impressive film out of a weak narrative.
The score was written by John Williams and embodies the film's inspirational spirit by using mellow strings and flutes to produce a new spin on wartime melodies. The dynamics certainly add to the story, but they also produce a slightly lighthearted backdrop to a serious subject.
Though I understand many people enjoyed the movie, I do not feel that it fit my personal taste or preference. Every aspect was masterfully executed except the plot, which I consider the heart of a film. As a tough critic, I look at the core of the picture and then judge the rest accordingly. So, despite the dramatic impression War Horse left visually, it fell short in the content's quality.
War Horse runs for 146 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence. For tickets and showtimes visit Fandango.
For more movie reviews read the Feb. 7 article, Haunting tale, performances reinforce Radcliffe film (VIDEO ).