With Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg created what many believe to be one of the greatest world war 2 films ever to grace the silver screen. And now 14 years later he has tried the war genre again with War Horse. Based on both the book by Michael Morpurgo and the london stage play the story centres around Joey, a horse whose life is surrounded by the horror of the first world war.
By creating a film in which the main protagonist is a mute animal it was always going to be a hard job getting the audience to relate. Indeed there was no Bill Murray or Dan Akroyd to voice, nor in fact any of the Ghostbusters team (who seem to be getting into the cgi animal voicing business as of late) instead it was just the storyline and human characters to help Joey along. Having newcomer Jeremy Irving taking the reins (if you pardon the pun) as Joeys owner-slowly-turning-into-soulmate was a brave choice and in my opinion didn’t really work too well. But then again neither did the majority of the film.
As Joey goes through the war each experience is played out rather like a tv series. It’s almost as though it was written as various episodes and then each episode was just smashed together to try and make it flow naturally. Which it doesn’t. That does not however mean it’s a bad film. Frankly trying to criticize Steven Spielberg is pretty hard considering how brilliant his back catalogue of films are (bar Indiana Jones 4 of course). So to give him his due it looks wonderful especially in the final sequence where the lighting is just perfect. Also he yet again beautifully captures the horror of war and along with a brilliant soundtrack by John Williams it is a thing of wonder.
In all not his best but certainly not his worst.