Set during the First World War Steven Spielberg’s 2011 drama film War Horse is centered on the experiences of a thorough breed horse named Joey, whom we follow from birth through his dramatic experiences on the western front during the war. Where he finds love and admiration from all of those who he encounters along the way. Throughout the film Joey manages to bring out the best in people and shows us that even in the face of war we are all still human and can find compassion. Spielberg’s film exhibits excellent cinematography and uses a wonderful combination of light and colour that brings the audience into each scene. This is especially true as he captures the simple beauty and the challenges of living in the English countryside and then the horror’s of trench warfare. Unfortunately, the storyline is somewhat weak in that it is nothing more than a recreation of those two animal hero classics Old Yeller (1957) and Lassie (1954 TV, 2005 film) wrapped in the genre of a war drama. Much like Lassie and Old Yeller Joey the horse remains by far the best actor in the film, as there were no memorable performances by mere humans. It is not that the human acting was bad just that the story is centered on Joey the horse and the humans simply play supporting roles. Throughout the film it is hard not to like Joey as he moves from one benefactor to another and brings to them a certain something that was missing in their lives. Joey does not really move in any particular direction, but rather takes on all challenges as they come. While portraying the distinctly human qualities that we all wished we had, but that only a horse could manage to pull off. In this film Spielberg has failed to provide the “WoW” factor that we have come to expect from him as a director. Such as the dramatic story lines of his previous films Munich (2005) and Schindler's List (1993) or the high-energy action sequences of the Indiana Jones trilogy and Saving Private Ryan (1998) Overall, I liked this film, but only to enough to enjoy on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
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