Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 291 Ratings

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  • Summary: Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, War Horse begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man's Land. The First World War is experienced through the journey of this horse—an odyssey of joy and sorrow, passionate friendship and high adventure. War Horse is one of the great stories of friendship and war—a successful book, it was turned into a hugely successful international theatrical hit that is arriving on Broadway next year. It now comes to screen in an epic adaptation by one of the great directors in film history. (DreamWorks Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. 100
    Spielberg has been ridiculed for shooting his actors from below against impossibly Spielbergian skies and a denouement that lays the love on copiously. But there's nothing simpleminded about how he uses movie magic, as a spell to dispel nihilism, to save us from the worst of ourselves by summoning up the best.
  2. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 20, 2011
    War Horse is a don't-miss Spielberg classic that reaches true perfection.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Dec 21, 2011
    War Horse is bold, not afraid of sentiment and lets out all the stops in magnificently staged action sequences. Its characters are clearly defined and strongly played by charismatic actors. Its message is a universal one.
  4. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Dec 19, 2011
    For certain movies, the adjectives "formulaic" and "predictable" are complimentary. War Horse is one of them.
  5. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 22, 2011
    There are extraordinary and beautiful things in War Horse, enough of them to make the movie a pleasure and a worthwhile experience, though not enough to trick the eye or get you believing this movie hangs together.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 26, 2011
    Has the sweep of a classic John Ford movie, the sentiment of Frank Capra and a spirited steed named Joey who will steal your heart. The film itself is more difficult to love.
  7. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Dec 16, 2011
    Director Steven Spielberg doesn't have a steady grip on War Horse's careening tone, but he'll be damned if there's not 15 minutes in there for everyone.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 75 out of 121
  2. Negative: 30 out of 121
  1. Dec 25, 2011
    It is an emotional journey in full gallop. The project is tailored for Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan', a specialist in military history and also for Spielberg's 'ET', the chronicler of infantile wishes and desires family. Expand
  2. Dec 27, 2011
    An absolutely beautiful emotional rollercoaster. I cannot praise this movie enough on grounds of cinematography, music, and a dozen other things. I know I hugged my cat the second I got home. Expand
  3. Apr 23, 2012
    Sometimes a movie is more about entertainment and sometimes more about message. War Horse is more an emotional entertainment vehicle, "Lassie Come Home" on steroids. But its WWI backdrop inevitably has message intrusions I think viewers can't avoid. In an extra features discussion Spielberg says, "this isn't a WWI movie". Sorry Steve, inevitably it is. Unfortunately the mixture of a warm 10,00:1 heartfelt reunion saga against the backdrop of the human and animal slaughter of the first world war creates too much dissonance for those who seem unable to connect with the directors vision - or in this case, particular set of blinders. Expand
  4. Feb 29, 2012
    Saw Spielberg's latest WWI epic film in the cinema, although I'm not qualified as an animal zealot, I have yet seriously raised any pets (the most intimate contact is two goldfishes once I had at home). But film-wise, it is an overall solid work from Spielberg, far from his best, but still a magnificent viewing occurrence.

    All the elements packing up in the film are slightly deja-vu from Spielberg's oeuvre, the different episodes through which our protagonist horse progresses are patchily distributed, particularly the one centers on the French girl and her grandfather (Celine Buckens is annoyingly snobbish in her over-fabricated role, namely the rolling down of a tear through her cheek scene is loathsomely designed, which is also dramatically underscored in the trailer), which backfires with an incongruously dreamed-up sentiment against the gruesomeness of the warfare. The human race cast is generically on their routine route without any over-exposition, which escalates the horse Joey to distinguish itself as the default tearjerker here, and even though everything is fictional, I feel agonizing to witness animals to being coerced to labor heavily just to earn back some human tears, it is not a fair play as we could never procure any consensus from them. I give the film a 7/10 despite all these said disconcerting factors, cinematically speaking, Janusz Kaminskiâ
  5. Dec 26, 2011
    The magic of Spielberg is and always has been his ability to touch a part of our hearts with an emotionally charged scene, or spark a part of our brains to make us think about something historical because it has some relevance to our current times. Doing so in the form of a near-flawless film has always been a sensory-enveloping experience. However, with stinkers like The Legend of Zorro, the Transformers series, Cowboys and Aliens, The Lovely Bones, etc, he is losing his luster. While War Horse is a beautifully filmed effort, his ability to be thought-provoking is nearly gone. His ability to stir emotions are earmarked for simple stories appealing to the masses. There is no substance to this stylish attempt. It tries. It tries real hard. It fails. It fails real bad. The weak story and over-dramatic acting do not support what Spielberg as clearly trying to evoke in its audience. Through most of the movie, I was irritated at the pacing and the inability to care about the characters. I kept thinking, "c'mon are going to turn it around...". Yet, it never came. It was just more of the same pile-on of forced sympathy and brutally extracted emotions. By the time the final scene was dragging out in an almost-parody of Gone With the Wind-style cinematography, I was ready to see the credits. Spielberg's movies used to be a "guarantee." After a string of watered-down mass appeal movies, I will seriously reconsider the desire to see his next. Expand
  6. Jan 2, 2012
    Who is this movie made for? It is all over the place. I can see how the play would be good however Speilberg stretches out the exposition at the beginning like a freshman film student then he ends it like the expert he is. Go for the last 30 minutes and you will be fine, everything before that just drags and is inconsistent. Speilberg I'm wondering is becoming Altman and Kobrick... when they lost their connection with the audience. Expand
  7. Jun 28, 2013
    This is a stunningly disaster of a movie. Complete rubbish. I don't recommend this to anybody that has taste in movies. Pointless stupid film. Speilberg needs to get back to what he does best. Expand

See all 121 User Reviews


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