This film could’ve easily been passed off as another Free Willy-esque production, but when you’ve got Steven Spielberg as your director and a story worth producing into a film, it seems as though War Horse could do no wrong, and in a way, it didn’t, save for a few minor cuts that would’ve made the final product just a little bit more polished.
War Horse tells the story of the deep friendship shared by a teenage boy (played by Jeremy Irvine) and Joey, a stubborn yet loyal thoroughbred that his father buys out of spite at the beginning of the film. The persistent boy manages to form a incredible bond with the outspoken horse which allows him to use Joey to somehow better his family’s current situation. Unfortunately, the war forces the two apart and Joey goes through a number of willing and not-so willing owners before he is reunited with his true master.
Almost everything about the movie exudes an aura of impeccable ‘correctness’. Newcomer Jeremy Irvine fits perfectly into his role as a young yet persistent teenager who charges himself with the responsibility of caring for his father’s horse. Downtown Abbey’s Emily Watson provides a firm supporting role as Irvine’s mother in the film: a strong yet equally vulnerable wife who plays her role with a practiced and balanced air. Other notable parts in the film include two very memorable yet short cameos from known British actors like Thor’s Tom Hiddleston and Sherlock himself: Benedict Cumberbatch. Yet despite the number of well-done performances in this film, it is still the horse named Joey who takes the spotlight. From his birth at the start of the film to the pivotal scene that is bound to leave no eye dry, Joey’s incredible strength of character amidst the tumult of trials that followed his separation from Albie are definitely worth emulating, and despite the fact that he has only half the screen time of the film’s human characters, he serves to be the most memorable: thus his inclusion into the film’s title is something that made perfect sense.
On the other hand, 2 hours and 26 minutes makes for a dangerously long film, and had it not been for well-placed characters and impeccable cinematography, War Horse could easily have become just another draggy film about the war. A lot of parts of the film could have been cut, but were probably kept to accurately depict the atrocities of the first World War, an example being the short yet tragic ordeal of the two brothers that were too young to fight in the war. Yet despite some unnecessary scenes, everything worked out in the end for the film: thanks in part to great acting,flawless directing and a story that’s bound on tug on anyone’s heartstrings.