War Horse

I might have to recuse myself from this review.

Honestly, I’m not the guy you want reviewing a film like this. I’m not the guy that’s going to be “moved” watching teary eyed people talking about their ‘orse like it was %#$&ing Ghandi while the sun sets behind them and weepy orchestral music pours out of every freaking scene.

I’m the guy in the back with his feet up and his arms crossed thinking. “It’s. A. Horse. People.”

That said, if you can stomach the suffocating, sledgehammer sentimentality, “War Horse” is a well put together film that people less cynical than I am will probably like a lot more than I did.

“War Horse” is the story of an ‘orse who gets conscripted into World War I and winds up single handidly winning the war by changing enough hearts on either side of the battlelines that people just want to stop fighting and focus exclusively on talking about how magical an ‘orse he is. Oh, alright, not exactly, but it’s certainly close. He does get conscripted into war and he winds up all over the place, and he gets caught up with several different people and events and thus the movie winds up having a bit of a vignette feel to it.

Not all of the vignettes are created equal, and certainly some of the segments are better than others, but they all have one thing in common. The ‘orse.

Granted that some of the people who come across him treat him like a common animal, but most are forced to comment on what a “Remarkable ‘orse” he is. Which is true. Because people literally makes remarks on this horse 743 times. “Well, you’re a clever fellow aren’t ya?” and “He’s the best ‘orse I’ve ever known” or “Well, blimey… I didn’t know ‘orses could negotiate peace treaties…”

Now hear me out. I know, I know. I’m laying on the hard assery a little thick. And I understand that the very purpose of these films is to show how “remarkable” animals can be. So there’s kind of no point to having the movie even, if the ‘orse didn’t do special things, and people didn’t have their lives changed, etc etc. But seriously. The ‘orses original owner pretty much gets a letter home from the front from the horse. No exaggeration. Little pictures, says “I love you” the whole deal. And people are constantly reacting like this ‘orse is the equine equivalent of Jesus. Honestly, the way the boy who originally owned the ‘orse acts to him, it makes me want to start a new category for next year’s MAJOR Awards, the “Would You Two Just %#$&ing DO It Already” Award. They’d probably lose out to J Edgar Hoover and his lifemate Clyde Tolson this year, but they’d be strong contenders.

There was one point where they almost had me. In spite of nearly drowning in syrup for an hour and forty-five minutes, when they finally got to the war scene the trailers highlight (seriously, they should of called this movie “Fringe of War Horse” or “Support Horse”), they had me for like ten minutes. That scene and the resultant aftermath were very well done, and if somehow the movie could have avoided falling back into the maudlin morass it had been mired in from that point forward, I’d be speaking of it much more favorably than I am now.

It doesn’t. If anything, it shifts it into an even higher gear. JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE HOW MUCH I WARM YOUR HEART NOW!!!

I dont know. I dont react well to this sort of movie, I guess. But there’s so many sunset scenes I almost couldnt take it. And there were times when there were battle sequences going on and people get killed and I was letting out the Nelson Muntz “HA HA!” in my head as counter reaction to all the schmaltz.

I do feel bad though. People swing through here for an opinion on movies, and I’m probably not the guy to turn to on this one. So I got you all a second opinion. Ok?

Here’s GWAR.

See? They’re kind of backing me up. If you’re critical of movies at all, you’re probably going to agree with Odorus Urungus and I in that this movie is a little difficult to tolerate, but if you’re not adverse to such blatant sentimentality, or especially if you love horses, than you’ll agree with Balsac and this movie is going to be the movie for you.

B But mainly for its high production work, cinematography and the fact that I realize I’m not this movie’s target audience.

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20 thoughts on “War Horse

  1. You get a gold star for even sitting through until the end.

    I did have to re-read one paragraph…. I thought it said the horse was constipated in WWI…… I was saying, wth?!?! Haha

  2. Fogs i know spieldberg is a good movie maker, But is this one worth the $ 10 or should i wait to rent it? Or not go at all? Have a good one

    • It’s a good movie… but I’d ask yourself. “Do I love horses?” If you dont like LOVE Horses, I’d wait and rent.

      There’s better movies out there right now I think, too. Mission Impossible 4 comes to mind…

  3. Wow Danny! You really don’t have a heart? lol! I saw the play a few months ago & absolutely did not get the same impression that u got from the movie. I’m going to see the movie tomorrow. I’ll let you know more of my thoughts then. :)

    • Now now.

      I absolutely do have a heart.

      Let’s just say, this movie’s idea of warming your heart is chucking it into the fire. THERE YOU GO!! WARM!! There is no subtlety to the orangey, sunset drenched, horsey homecomings set to full orchestral bombardments.

      I prefer a tad more… nuance. I suppose.

      But hey. I think I pointed that out when I wrote it up. If I told people any more times that “hey, I might not be the best reviewer to look to here”, they’d be sick of reading it. All these are copy/pastes from above.

      “I might have to recuse myself from this review”,
      “Honestly, I’m not the guy you want reviewing a film like this”
      “I’m probably not the guy to turn to on this one.”
      “I realize I’m not this movie’s target audience”.

      LOL. Now… I anxiously await what you have to say on the film, but uh… might you also prehaps not be the best person to review this, except in the other direction? :D I mean, I dont want to jump to conclusions, but lets just say my money’s on you coming back and saying it should win best picture and you cried like three times, etc… :D Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  4. I have horses, and I tend to avoid horse movies. I’m not one for the schmaltz. Mind you, there’s nothing like having to deal with the brats to bring perceptions down to realistic levels (imagine a reasonably intelligent, 800-1000 pound animal; now imagine that animal getting bored and you can start to get an idea of what horse owners have to put up with). Horse movies aren’t made for actual horse lovers, or horse owners… they’re made for people who love the idea of horses. It’s like “My Little Pony”; I doubt it sells to very many people who have the real thing at home.

  5. Whoo for a B you sure didn’t like this film ;) But you gave your reasons.

    I’m actually looking forward to this one quite a bit despite all of the negative criticism. Interesting to see what people are talking about.

    Good work!

      • Yeah… they eat schmaltz up.

        It was a good movie, I just…. personally had trouble with some of the things. Its tough sometimes. You recognize there’s a certain amount of quality…. and yet you yourself arent connecting. That was the case here, bigtime.

  6. I will be watching this, but I am with you when it comes to the sentimentality of this film. I’m not looking forward to the “corny-ness” if you will. And war without blood???

    I have a feeling my thoughts on the film will mirror yours almost precisely. I’ll let ya know. Thanks for the heads up. One thing’s for sure, my younger sister might enjoy it.

    haha. love the vid too!

    • You know? I hope you enjoy it. I always hope people like a movie.

      Cause I’ll tell you, most people ARENT bothered by stuff like that. And when you kind of take this stance, you wind up coming across as a grump.

      A well reasoned, rational, logical grump, but a grump nonetheless. LOL :D

  7. To those of you checking back in…

    David Chen of slashfilm just put this much better than I did. Altough he was much more positive on the film overall than I am, look at the kind of concessions he has to make even though he’s selecting the movie as his number one movie of the year.

    “I believe it was film critic Eric Kohn who tweeted something along the lines of “When it comes to Spielberg porn, there’s nothing quite like the real thing.” And indeed, while War Horse does not contain any nudity or sex, it does at times feel so overly and overtly sentimental as to be pornographic. The film, which chronicles a horse’s interactions with various people during World War I, plays into all of Spielberg’s best and worst tendencies by allowing him to show each character at his/her most melodramatic. The result is a film that feels blatantly manipulative and a bit over-the-top. For me, however, each crucial moment was so perfectly calibrated, so well-shot, so spectacularly timed, framed, and composed that I could not help but be taken in by this film. Your mileage may vary.”

  8. I enjoyed this film in a packed theater and agree with Fog’s letter grade but am more positive on sentimentality.

    The Con:
    Too many obstacles are explained away with poof the’re gone. Animal fans may be aghast at some war scenes regardless of blood amount.

    The Pro:
    This film is NOT about a horse but how great animals, events, or people can bring out the best part of ourselves which this horse(‘orse) does for many in this pic. Superb production value made this fun to see on the big screen.

    • ENORMOUS Production values.

      And you know? Aside from the heavy hand with the sentiment… awesome directing! I mean, the man isnt a household name for nothing.

      The big “running loose” scene may be one of the greatest scenes in his canon. As I said at some point in the comments above, I’m not your guy really for films such as these. It’s not that I “dont have a heart” – its that I resist manipulative attempts to “move me”. I far prefer a film arrive at it via story and characters and good old fashioned earning it. Such as “The Descendants” and “50/50″ for recent examples.

      Thanks for swinging back to share though, love it when people circle back to discuss! :D

  9. I LOVE your review of the ‘Orse! Negotiating peace treaties is the best, and I’m now convinced that the reason that we have so many wars is that the rest of the ‘orses aren’t amazing enough. If they were all as special as Joey, we would not only have peace on earth, but we’d all be able to outsmart our landlords too!

    • Yeah… I didnt know what else to say. It was very well shot and all, but it had more syrup than a McGriddle. LOL

      It’ll probably still get tons of love come awards time. Schmaltz never slowed the Academy down any.

  10. Fogs, your hilarious,you really are! It sounds like a right pile of s*** and over here they have a flippin West End production of the damn thing going on until 2013.

    This was a funny review and the film sounds ridiculous. I actually asked myself whether it was a true story, but from the sounds of it…NO WAY!!

    Thanks for making me laugh!! Immie :-D

    • No problem Immie, making people laugh is part of the job description!

      I couldnt help it. I dont want to mock Spielberg, I really dont. But the more I think about this one, the worse it ages. It’s just SHAMELESSLY manipulative. I mean, there were times when I couldnt believe what I was seeing.

      Thats not to say its without value… there’s a lot of really weel done material mixed in. But I couldnt cut through the syrup. You know?

      Always good to see you Imster!!

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