Monday, 9 January 2012
The biggest difference is that War Horse is based on a children's book, so there are none of the horrors of war that defined Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan. In their place is a simplistic and calculated exercise in heartstring-pulling that requires the cynicism-free heart of a child to sit through, lest you bring up your dinner on the person in front when forced to swallow some of the most contrived John Williams-flavoured cheesecake since Hayden Christensen tried to nob Natalie Portman in a Naboo field. All of which would be fine if there was more to entertain the under-12s, but short of the aforementioned and underused comedy goose, the melodrama to funballs ratio is tediously high.
There are, of course, a couple of the requisite Spielberg moments you'd expect, and Janusz Kaminski's cinematography renders the whole thing undeniably gorgeous in a ridiculously false, permanently-backlit way, but everything else is just so obvious, to the point where, when a heartless soldier is required to pull a gun on our hero's lovely horse, it's none other than cinema's favourite rentabastard Eddie Marsan who's asked to pull the trigger. Still, at least he's not expected to affect the go-to English countryside-dweller's accent favoured by half the cast: