Tuesday, December 20, 2011

War Horse Movie Review

In close to a week from today we'll celebrate Christ’s birth, remembering how He came and giving presents for the season. It’s also the day that thousands of people will make the trek to the theater to watch a movie that has nothing to do with Christmas, but with machine guns, bravery and a horse. 

Now I like movies. Especially free ones with horses in them. So of course when we were offered free tickets to go see an early preview, we went.

Say hello to Joey, a beautiful horse purchased by Albert's too prideful father. Albert is then put in charge of the horse and there is an instant bond. BUT when things go wrong and Joey is sold as a war horse Albert can only wait for one thing: being old enough to enlist in the army.  Joey encounters many people and seems to give hope and courage while fleeing from bombs, dodging bullets and sacrificially giving himself until he can finally be reunited to his boy.

Many are calling this PG-13 rated movie a sure family film, and as a war movie coming from Hollywood I'm sure it is. Though the violence can be tense there is very little to no blood shown and 6 profanities (6 more than I would like). It’s got courage, bravery, a heart winning horse and a boy's search to win his horse back.

So far sounds good, where do I buy tickets?

At a glance War Horse is pretty amazing. The horse is beautiful and the complexities of the horse scenes are completely compelling. Everything seems so realistic and humorous. 

Joey’s encounters, though a bit far fetched, are ones that remind you how one person can impact many.  I was heavily disappointed with Albert’s role in the movie. Though he has some tense scenes, he doesn’t do much for himself. It’s his friends that fight for him. Friends fighting for you can be great, but it left Albert looking weak and more or less helpless in certain areas.  

You may think this is one movie that you can guess from beginning to end. You’re wrong.
When Albert is working with Joey in front of a group of people the pressure becomes to much and Albert whips Joey. Even though they accomplish what they wanted later it brings a different perspective to the scene. Though I have nothing against discipline, it gave me a negative opinion of Albert because he was more focused on the pressure than with working with Joey. 

In reality not much of what you expect to happen essentially does. In several scenes this brought a wall making it much harder to enjoy the movie. 


The anti-war message is pretty blunt: War Takes Everything. There are certain realities of war that are worth portraying: killing it not a joy, war it not fun and certain honors that are won some wish forgotten. But when neither side wishes to fight and thousands drop dead in a single battle, when is it going too far? 

Everyone wants to enlist; fighting for your country is the most glorious thing ever. In a way Albert surpasses everyone. The boy whose father has been shunned for his drinking goes to war and is the first to break past enemy lines, his bravery brought him there, he didn’t leave his friend behind. But he doesn’t glory it what he did, no one does. Wars always have two side, both do terrible things yet both are human. Neither really wishes to fight. In fact when brought together by Joey they work together as friends. If only we could just talk and communicate we’d all get along. 

After we watched the movie my Dad said one thing that seemed to stick “Spielberg’s getting older”. When a non-Christians at an old age looks back as his life, what is his impression?  

According to War Horse: Life is not fair. If you do good things you will not always reap good rewards. Bravery is sometimes just staying alive during the hard times. 

Albert’s father has never had a happy life, one full of struggles and hardships. The boy who tries to keep his promise is killed for it. The cherished granddaughter doesn’t survive the war.
“I used to think God gave everyone their share of bad luck. I’m not so sure of that now.”
Every once in a while God will look down a bless someone with luck. Joey was one of those “ones”. It brought up the question of “Why should we have morals?” one that is never fully answered.  In general life is very sad and hopeless. 

Overall Steven Spielberg’s main movie problem was Joey. There are certain characteristics that are not best portrayed through a horse. People are not horses and not everyone likes horses. In fact if you don’t like horses this movie may become much drearier, long, and in ways dark. 

Why? Because Spielberg draws you in through Joey, a beautiful, 1500 pound thoroughbred horse

I have to say I still ‘liked’ this movie, but then again I like just about every animal movie I see.
But with its pelting anti-war message, views of luck and life, and its disappointing plot twist I definitely would not call this “family friendly” movie and have a hard time recommending it. 

Not all war is bad, point of fact, some is necessary; Life it not a purposeless blob with ups and down at random; Horses are not wiser than humans.


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