Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is a schmaltzy, sentimental saga of the love between a boy and his horse – boy meets horse, boy loses horse, boy is reunited with horse. It’s the classic romantic formula…although with an equestrian twist. 

Based on a 1982 children’s novel that’s also been adapted into a successful stage play, the story opens shortly before World War I in the English county of Devon, where a young farm boy, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), becomes attached to the colt his drunken father buys to spite his vindictive landlord. The kid names the horse Joey, and trains him to plow their rocky land. When the threat of bankruptcy looms over the family’s head, Albert’s father sells the horse to an officer in the British army, who’s setting off to war. Albert, meanwhile, signs up for the army in the hope of somehow being reunited with his four-legged friend. 

Joey passes from hand to hand amidst the carnage of war. At one point he’s captured by the German side and used in battle against the British. At another point in the story, he lands up at the farm of an old French jam-maker, whose spirited young granddaughter takes a shine to him. By the end of the war, he’s touched many lives, and a half dozen or so people believe they own the horse. 

At nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes, War Horse practically drowns in sappiness. From Janusz Kaminiski’s overcooked cinematography to John Williams’ self-important score, everything about Spielberg’s film appears shrewdly calculated to push your buttons and to tug at your heartstrings. To be fair, it’s not hard to be moved by the film’s final moments, but that’s emotional manipulation for you. 

A few war sequences are especially stirring, including one that involves dozens of soldiers hiding in a wheat field before staging an attack. But for the most part it’s a cloying film that doesn’t possess the same honest heart as Spielberg’s previous war films – Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. It’s an overlong, suffocating affair that looks all pretty and epic but feels rather hollow inside. 

I’m going with two out of five for Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. It’s so long and exhausting, I dub this film ‘Bore Horse’.

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  1. Sushant Sharma

    March 1, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Well aren’t you delightfully ‘half glass empty’. Surprisingly according to you, War Horse & Don 2 are at the same pedestal whereas Agneepath where the hero gets carved into a Halloween pumpkin, still manages to carry and hang a 250 pounder (please keep in mind the visibly phony act of the dead lift) is a 3 starrer! Evidently our movie industry doesn’t only miss out on these creative works that disrupt the dime a dozen spiritless course of movie making; but it also desperately needs an unfeigned appreciation by the media to make way for our own Camerons and Spielbergs. War Horse had a dozen academy award and BAFTA nominations and all you could manage was a 2/5. I find it alarmingly disappointing that a voice that matters is unjust to a deserving artwork that’ll go down the timeline as one of the few but the best attempts of bringing the WW1 to silver screen.

  2. ARUN

    March 1, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I am fully agree with SUSHANT ; Mr. Masand i read your aplauded Qualification “” Rajeev Masand, with a media career spanning 16 years, does film shows etc…etc…. “” But i
    dont think so you really upto that mark. Your sense of critics is really bad. You can rate 3/5 a movie like Ek mai aur ek tu…& you are rating 2/5 to WAR HORSE. ARE YOU WRITING ON YOUR OWN OR YOU HAVE HIRED SOMEBODY ?? Please stop these unmatching Critics as people are getting misguided and they miss out some Great Movies , all because of your TIME PASS COMMENTS. You have some benchmark dude; live it upto that else people will start trating you as a Low Grade Critic writer…and you will lose all your respects which you can not earn again and again.

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