‘There are big days and there are small days, which will it be?’
When it comes to blockbusters, Steven Spielberg is the king. Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T, Jurassic goddamn Park. Spielberg has a résumé that would make God blush. He went through a little bit of a rough patch however following the success of Munich in 2005. The ensuing six years only wrought the shit show that was The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and a feature length version of Tin Tin. There was a fair bit riding on War Horse when it dropped in 2011 then. Happily, it was brilliant. Properly brilliant.
War Horse is a simple story about a charming old drunk who buys a horse he can’t afford in a fit of alcohol induced madness and then forces his son to maintain a heart-warming and life long bond with said horse. Other stuff happens along the way but that is basically it.
Spielberg has always had a taste for good casts and this is no exception. Emily Watson is a joy as ever and genuinely looks like she could beat the shit out of her on screen husband Peter Mullan at any moment. Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch are both incredibly British and proper so they fit right in to a movie set during The Great War. Jeremy Irvine does a decent job as the main protagonist and the, presumably, mostly CGI horse, is wonderful. Just a great, great horse.
War Horse started life as a book by popular children’s author Michael Morpurgo before being adapted to a wildly successful play. It can’t be easy to convert a beloved story from two different mediums into one accomplished whole but if you would trust anyone to be able to do so, it would be Spielberg.
It may not be as iconic as some of Spielberg’s previous work, but War Horse is a wonderful film in its own right. A genuine family favourite that deserves to maintain its popularity through the ages.