War Horse: Really Late Impressions

I’ve finally seen War Horse, and believe me when I say that I agree with James Berardinelli when he said that this is one of those “lesser Spielberg” films to have come out in recent years.

This film suffers from a problematic plot structure… when you look at it from the human perspective. Nope, this is a film about Joey, the titular War Horse, and his journey from the Great War back home. This is what the film is all about.

This has some of the prettiest images I’ve ever seen recently; the cinematography has a very naturalistic feel to it. I loved the use of colors in this film.

The World War I action sequences is one factor that made this film a decent one. The initial cavalry charge was cool (even better when you discover that it hardly has any visual effects). The scene of the trench warfare is one of the best war sequences in a Spielberg film since the Omaha beach landing in Saving Private Ryan. Granted, this is a P.G.-13 film, but it still pack quite the punch. Finally, Joey’s charge to No Man’s Land is nothing short of outstanding.

But for me, the single most affecting scene of the film involves a British and a German soldier freeing Joey from the barb wire. This scene, I believe, encapsulates the film’s strong anti-war point. What makes this scene even more tragic is the audience, knowing full well that despite the hopes of a peaceful future, the world will be brought to war once more in a few years time.

For what it’s worth, War Horse has got its truly moments. The World War I scenes were good, the visuals are definitely pretty, and John Williams’ score is… well, it’s John Williams, what do you expect? But alas, film is composed of individual elements put together to create a good whole, not the other way around. The episodic plot is the biggest detriment to this otherwise affecting film.

If anything, allow me to say that the only reason this film stood together despite its faults is the craftsmanship of one of cinemas greatest living filmmakers out there, Steven Spielberg. This is the type of film that this guy could probably make blindfolded (Movie Bob, 2011). This is indeed a finely shot and directed film, the story and the plot was just all over the place. “Lesser Spielberg” film indeed.

3.5 stars out of 5.


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