Thingish Things

‘War Horse’ Gets 3 1/2 Blackberries (Out of Five)

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Dec• 29•11

Are film reviewers part of an inside Hollywood job, like stock analysts were at the big Wall Street banks before being exposed? Or do they just feel obligated to write nice things about venerable directors?

Those are questions I find myself asking after leaving Steven Spielberg’s latest, “War Horse,” which opened to preposterously good reviews.

Don’t believe them.  They’re bunk.  Here’s the truth: “War Horse,” which tells the story of a boy and a horse in and around World War I, is – how should I say this? – not very good. Sure it’s shot well.  All Spielberg creations are.  But “War Horse” seems more like an academic exercise in trying to reproduce the look and feel of a John Ford movie than a serious attempt at making something special or original.

Ever hear the old expression “a cliché wrapped in a stereotype?”  Well that’s “War Horse,” wrapped in an extra cliché or two.  The scenes are absurdly overacted, almost Lassie-come-home-like. The sweeping music refuses to stop sweeping.  And the skies are out of “The Wizard of Oz.”  The movie is all affectation and no substance. The plot and premise – YES, I KNOW IT’S BASED ON A PLAY – are so utterly fantastical that Tim Burton might have taken a better crack at them than Spielberg.

“War Horse” is not awful.  It’s far from it.  It’s just not compelling, but that’s exactly what a movie with such over-the-top artistry needs to be.  The film is billed as being “A Gripping Tale of Loyalty and Bravery,” but is instead, I dare say, just a little dull.

I read three reviews before seeing “War Horse” that mentioned the need to bring Kleenex to the theater.  But I have to say in all honesty that I have felt more emotion opening a good can of tuna fish.  Sincerely.  By movie’s end I could not have cared less whether that horse ended up at Yonkers Raceway or a glue factory, nor did I care for a single one of the human characters.

Movie reviewers like Rex Reed, A. O. Scott, and others were either smoking pot in the back seat of their theater watching this film or they are kissing up to Stephen Spielberg.  One suspects it’s the latter. If “War Horse” ends up receiving 13 Academy Award nominations, it’s a fix.  Call in Eliot Spitzer. 

War Horse: 3 1/2 Blackberries.

(Making this blog up as I go along.  So what the heck, I’ll throw a movie review in every now and then.) 

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One Comment

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