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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 286 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: 74 out of 120
  2. Negative: 30 out of 120
  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. Aug 25, 2012
    We all know that when Director Steven, makes a film, it is always going to be a surprise, no matter the topic/subject. and WAR HORSE was a good surprise! Collapse
  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
    Spielberg has always been a master manipulator. He knows just what to do to make a scene feel like it's one for the ages. But in most of his films, he's always had a group of characters we can get behind or a story that is like nothing we've seen before. In other words, he delivers the goods before trying to control our emotions. In "War Horse," I didn't feel like the goods were delivered, leaving me fully aware of Spielberg's attempted manipulation. It was like watching a magician perform a trick I already knew how to do. While the cinematography is beautiful, and the story stays engaging as we follow the horse through multiple battlefields, very few characters have much meat to them, especially Albert who's the boy that raises the horse. All we understand from Albert is that he is a determined boy who loves his horse. That's about it. He's like Captain America where he is the epitome of good. And like Captain America, when you have a consistently "good" character, it becomes quite easy to guess what the character's actions will be. He's a character that's easy to figure out early on, and nothing is done to give him any depth whatsoever. Luckily, there are a few characters along the way that bring the movie back up. My favorite group consisted of a French young teen and her grandfather. The young teen is played by Celine Buckens and she is the standout of the film with only 15 minutes of screen time. She, along with Niels Arestrup who plays the grandfather, are the only actors able to breathe life into their characters. After the horse leaves their company, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed, as the horse never encounters any characters of interest for the remainder of the movie. Also, in terms of the plot twists, I kept getting this feeling that Spielberg was in this world pulling the strings to make everything turn out okay. Whenever tragedy threatened, there was almost always some character acting illogically or an implausible event that brought it back around. Because Spielberg does this early on, I came to realize that everything would work out okay for the main characters, and nothing unexpectedly drastic would happen. This took the fun out of the movie a bit, and it made me just wait patiently for the inevitable ending. Now as I'm looking over what I've written so far, it does seem like I'm trashing "War Horse," which is not what I intended. I enjoyed the movie well enough. "War Horse" definitely is one of the most beautifully filmed movies of Spielberg's career, and while the script doesn't offer much depth, Spielberg moves the film along at a nice enough pace to keep us constantly engaged for over two hours. That's a feat few directors can do, and Spielberg handles it like a champ. Overall, I'd recommend this to people looking for a predictably happy ending, but for the rest of you, I'd wait till it comes out on DVD before checking it out. Expand
  6. Jan 11, 2012
    It's a collage of two films that don't mix, Akin to A mason jar of Makers Mark bourbon blended up with twinkies.

    Why did they make "
    Warhorse" ? Why did they spend $80,000,000 Dollars ? Who is this movie aimed at?

    "American Velvet" meets " Deathcamp For Dobbin" ?
    - not a good mix for children ; Don't take your kids, - really.

    "Lassie Come Home " Meets " Saving Private Ryan, the ghastly parts"
    - Not a good mix for adults. Don't take your friends who just want a holiday film

    Why, then, was this film shoved out the door on Christmas day?

    The sets are nice, the effects are nice, the opening is nice.. the ending is all heartwarming;
    - It's only the middle two hours are kind of a mess.

    Make up your mind, guys, why not just make two films.
  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 120 User Reviews


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