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WAR HORSE 
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
I don't get the complaints about this movie being too sentimental. I mean, at least until the ending, I actually thought Spielberg showed restraint with it's sentimentality. I mean, yeah, sure, there are, granted, a few too many lines in scenes where people remark what an incredible horse Joey is. But I find that to be just quibbling. The movie is actually more darker and harsher than I would have thought. I'm actually kind of surprised this is based off a children's book. Really? Ain't this kind of on the dark and violent side for a children's book? Unless they made it much harsher than it was in the book. As I said, the movie does get a bit sentimental at the end, but I thought it earned it's ending so I didn't mind it at all.

I also don't get the complaints about the first 45 minutes either. I loved the entire movie. And man, what a freaking gorgeous movie this is! This definitely should win the oscar for cinematography. As beautiful as The Tree of Life was, this is even more beautiful looking. So many indelible images in this movie however, the scene where the soldiers storm from the trenches has to take the cake as the best scene (from cinematography point of view) of not just the movie, but of the ENTIRE year! It also deserves to win oscars for it's art direction and most importantly for John Williams' AMAZING score! God damn, now that's a score! So beautiful. I would go as far as to rank it up there among his best work. While, I'd still say Superman remains his best work, probably followed by his work in the Indiana Jones movies and then possibly Jurassic Park, I'd probably put War Horse though right above Jurassic Park. It's a new classic from him.

This is definitely Spielberg's best movie since Minority Report. I mean, as much as I loved The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can and Munich, I'd probably put this just slightly above them. It's also without a doubt the best movie of 2011 so far. And while I still have several movies left to see, only 1 or 2 of them (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and MAYBE Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) I can possibly see surpassing this movie. I absolutely loved it!

4 out of 4 stars from me! In fact, it's the first movie to get 4 stars from since 2009's Up.


Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:28 am
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
ilovemovies wrote:
I don't get the complaints about this movie being too sentimental. I mean, at least until the ending, I actually thought Spielberg showed restraint with it's sentimentality. I mean, yeah, sure, there are, granted, a few too many lines in scenes where people remark what an incredible horse Joey is. But I find that to be just quibbling. The movie is actually more darker and harsher than I would have thought. I'm actually kind of surprised this is based off a children's book. Really? Ain't this kind of on the dark and violent side for a children's book? Unless they made it much harsher than it was in the book. As I said, the movie does get a bit sentimental at the end, but I thought it earned it's ending so I didn't mind it at all.


I'm not sure the movie is too sentimental, but I have to wonder if American culture has shifted to a more hardened, cynical place for the film to be highly successful here. I believe its #7 place at the box office tends support that conclusion. I also think that the lack of a big name star, the wholly European setting and cast of War Horse will put a lot of folks in this country off the film. I think that is a bit of a shame because it is a very good film. Finally, I am incredibly curious to see how it does in the UK once it is released there.


Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:01 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
thethirdcoast wrote:
I'm not sure the movie is too sentimental, but I have to wonder if American culture has shifted to a more hardened, cynical place for the film to be highly successful here.


I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm always complaining about movies jumping on the "dark and gritty" bandwagon and being too dark and depressing, and I'm accustomed to getting shouted down by nerds whenever I mention that I would rather watch Iron Man or Sherlock Holmes than The Dark Knight simply because they're more fun, but even I'm disgusted by how gushy the TV spots for War Horse have been. They make E.T. look like Seven by comparison. I can't judge the film itself since I haven't seen it, but good lord, I sure hope those ads aren't accurate representations of it.

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Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:09 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
This was one boring movie that seemed to go on and on.I felt like the soldiers in the trenches who thought the war would never come to an end.The first 45 minutes were actually the best and after the War Horse is drafted the movie goes nowhere for another two hours.If Spielberg could have made one improvement it would be to make it 95 minutes and get rid of pointless French farm girl and the mawkish impossible beyond all credibility ending.The Descendants in comparison earned all it emotions honestly but this did not.It was almost like Spielberg was beating you on head with feel emotion now and choke up here.


Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:54 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
I understand it's subjective to say the emotions of this movie did or did not work, but I think the movie as a whole is just shoddy. I'm sure multiple viewings would reveal more holes, but here's what I noticed the first run through.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
1. The kid finds out the horse is gone, runs into the house. His mom gives him a look to say, Yeah, your dad is selling it. He takes off toward the village. Runs the whole way. Gets there right as his dad is selling it. 60-120 seconds later, there's a bit of dialogue between the dad and the mom in that same scene. In the village. So the mom ran all the way there in a skirt and doesn't look out of breath at all? Sloppy!

2. The English army attacks the Germans. The Germans run into the forest and begin firing machine guns that were pointed at their camp. Who sets up camp that way? With your weapons drilled into the ground pointed at you?

3. The whole scene with the English dude and the German dude on No Man's Land. It was so glib. Theoretically it might have worked, but they were so, "How's the war going on your end, *wink wink* *nudge nudge*? Get it, we'd be killing each other otherwise!" *laugh track* "Hey, I need some wire cutters!" *six wire cutters are tossed immediately* WHAT. These are the starving men that have been in the trenches for weeks now?

4. The English general-dude randomly decides he really wants to kill a horse that is going to die from tetanus. Wants to shoot it himself. And then the whole army stops talking because someone way in the back whistles and -- you know what -- I don't even need to go into how implausible that scene was, from beginning to end. War makes people cold, generally. Impulsive and reckless. Not slow and insightful. Also: either the horse healed himself of tetanus or English doctors like pronouncing horses certain of death and needing to be shot (immediately!) based on bad information (apparently).

5. The French girl successfully hid two horses in the attic. Somehow two 1000 pound horses made it up those rickety steps, and somehow the Germans decided they'd had enough of scouring the farm for food and valuables just short of searching the attic.


I really don't think I'm being nitpicky here. One or two of these things, I'd overlook. But it was example after example of sloppiness and implausibility. I get that the gimmick of the movie was that the horse was "miraculous," but the situations the horse got out of were unnecessarily contrived, and that's putting it nicely.


Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:31 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Regarding #4
[Reveal] Spoiler:
The horse was seriously injured. I didn't see that he actually had tetanus, but that he was likely to eventually have it or otherwise died from his injuries, and trying to save him would use up resources better used elsewhere.

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Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:21 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Yeah, it's Oscar bait, but that's usually what you get when Spielberg does a more 'serious' film. That said, it's a solid work that's always engaging. And, yes, after taking a break from sentimentality in "Munich," he's back to it again. :| Still, I'd say there's nothing here that struck me as overly manipulative as, say, in the slightly overrated (in the sense that while most people seemed to consider it one of the top 3 films of '93 [if not the very best], I'd rank it more at #7 or 8) "Schindler's List" (i.e. 'I could've saved so many more...') or the much more overrated "Saving Private Ryan" (i.e. 'Am I a good man?') :P .


Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:21 am
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Just to confuse things further, while I enjoyed War Horse I certainly didn't think it was Best Picture material. I'm not quite sure what I would put in its place. I want to say Drive, but I know the Academy is turned off by its violent content. The real revelation in Drive is Gosling's stunning performance, and I am shocked he's not up for Best Actor.


Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:18 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Well shot, well acted and still didn't get me vested in the outcome. I also didn't think it worthy of a Best Picture nomination with a very weak screenplay. The horsey story had already been done with Black Beauty or its derivatives Fury and My Friend Flicka tv show. The fairy tale plot just short of having a Mr. Ed horse talking to the humans just didn't work for me either when juxtaposed against the grimness of "The Great War". With over 35 million human casualties the life of one horse would not have been a consideration above its use as transportation or meat. Human life was considered so cheap that even many of the combatants never recovered even if their physical life was spared. Farm animals on working farms got the same considerations in that era. A thoroughbred was entirely a rich man's folly especially in England's classified society and that was one of biggest fantasies put forth.

I have the ability to check my brain at the door and can enjoy fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, even Lassie convincing the adults that Timmy has fallen into the well with a few barks. I'm not as quick being asked to mix fantasy with such a harsh reality and give a care.


Wed Jan 25, 2012 2:55 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Johann Bach wrote:
Well shot, well acted and still didn't get me vested in the outcome. I also didn't think it worthy of a Best Picture nomination with a very weak screenplay. The horsey story had already been done with Black Beauty or its derivatives Fury and My Friend Flicka tv show. The fairy tale plot just short of having a Mr. Ed horse talking to the humans just didn't work for me either when juxtaposed against the grimness of "The Great War". With over 35 million human casualties the life of one horse would not have been a consideration above its use as transportation or meat. Human life was considered so cheap that even many of the combatants never recovered even if their physical life was spared. Farm animals on working farms got the same considerations in that era. A thoroughbred was entirely a rich man's folly especially in England's classified society and that was one of biggest fantasies put forth.

I have the ability to check my brain at the door and can enjoy fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, even Lassie convincing the adults that Timmy has fallen into the well with a few barks. I'm not as quick being asked to mix fantasy with such a harsh reality and give a care.


But would you honestly consider Harry Potter 8 a better film than War Horse?


Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:12 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Johann Bach wrote:
I have the ability to check my brain at the door and can enjoy fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, even Lassie convincing the adults that Timmy has fallen into the well with a few barks. I'm not as quick being asked to mix fantasy with such a harsh reality and give a care.


I'd hardly call the Harry Potter or (especially) the LOTR movies 'turn-off-your-brain' movies. :? Sure, they don't require as much of your undivided attention as, say, "The Tree of Life" or "A Separation," but they're sooo not on the same plane as the "Transformers" or "Underworld" movies. :ugeek:


Wed Jan 25, 2012 8:46 pm
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MGamesCook wrote:
But would you honestly consider Harry Potter 8 a better film than War Horse?

I would!

I enjoyed War Horse, and I was impressed that he really kept the schmaltz at bay until about the last half hour. But I'm not sure the movie really earned the way it portrayed the big reunion scene. The payoff
[Reveal] Spoiler:
feels designed as the payoff of movie-long search by the kid for his lost Joey, but really we're only re-introduced to him and his ongoing search for Joey a few minutes before. Either Spielberg needed to show his search throughout the movie or he needed to downplay the reunion. As it was it
didn't feel fully earned.

Also, I really enjoyed the no man's land scene. It could have gone wrong in so many ways, but I really felt like Spielberg successfully walked the tightrope on that scene. Even the one designed laugh didn't feel too cheesy.

Overall, I'd say it's a movie with a very strong first two acts and a not-too-bad melodrama of a third act.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:29 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
MGamesCook wrote:
Johann Bach wrote:
Well shot, well acted and still didn't get me vested in the outcome. I also didn't think it worthy of a Best Picture nomination with a very weak screenplay. The horsey story had already been done with Black Beauty or its derivatives Fury and My Friend Flicka tv show. The fairy tale plot just short of having a Mr. Ed horse talking to the humans just didn't work for me either when juxtaposed against the grimness of "The Great War". With over 35 million human casualties the life of one horse would not have been a consideration above its use as transportation or meat. Human life was considered so cheap that even many of the combatants never recovered even if their physical life was spared. Farm animals on working farms got the same considerations in that era. A thoroughbred was entirely a rich man's folly especially in England's classified society and that was one of biggest fantasies put forth.

I have the ability to check my brain at the door and can enjoy fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, even Lassie convincing the adults that Timmy has fallen into the well with a few barks. I'm not as quick being asked to mix fantasy with such a harsh reality and give a care.


But would you honestly consider Harry Potter 8 a better film than War Horse?


In the context that I cared about the outcome of the characters yes, I honestly had more empathy for the long suffering kids in HP8 than the contrived empathy attempted for the horse or the near buffoon kid. HP8 had fantastical characters and beings fleshed out by some of the best actors Britain can provide and done in broad strokes for sure but fine in that fantasy world. War Horse had caricatures of characters done in broad strokes that did not fit in the grim setting given. Even before the outset of the war when we are presented with the setup for the kid it is all too maudlin and cartoonish with the drunkard father vs evil landlord and absurd auction.

Look, I like Spielberg, admire his work routinely and don't even mind his emotionally manipulative tendencies, it is what I like the most about his film making I suppose. I didn't dislike this movie, I just didn't feel it was good enough to deserve a BP nomination and this year I would have been fine with the Academy giving a nomination to HP8 just in recognition of what the series has meant to the industry if nothing else. Yes the last two movies should have been combined and the movies could have been better if Ms. Rowling had relinquished some control but all in all they still contained more inventiveness than The Help and I don't see too many people objecting to its insertion into the nominations.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:38 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
H.I. McDonough wrote:
Johann Bach wrote:
I have the ability to check my brain at the door and can enjoy fantasy, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, even Lassie convincing the adults that Timmy has fallen into the well with a few barks. I'm not as quick being asked to mix fantasy with such a harsh reality and give a care.


I'd hardly call the Harry Potter or (especially) the LOTR movies 'turn-off-your-brain' movies. :? Sure, they don't require as much of your undivided attention as, say, "The Tree of Life" or "A Separation," but they're sooo not on the same plane as the "Transformers" or "Underworld" movies. :ugeek:


I misstated my case here as it is a long running battle between me and the missus who checks up on any otherworldly or fantastical plot with the exception of Jane Austen I suppose ;) I have an appreciation and probably love of science fiction that goes back to my youthful discoveries reading Heinlein. She wanted to throw something at the screen near the end of The Prestige, vive la différence.

And yes Michael Bay is a perfect example of check-ur-brain and Underworld only involved the little head's appreciation of Kate in tight leather, much better examples.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:05 pm
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Quote:
In the context that I cared about the outcome of the characters yes, I honestly had more empathy for the long suffering kids in HP8 than the contrived empathy attempted for the horse or the near buffoon kid. HP8 had fantastical characters and beings fleshed out by some of the best actors Britain can provide and done in broad strokes for sure but fine in that fantasy world. War Horse had caricatures of characters done in broad strokes that did not fit in the grim setting given. Even before the outset of the war when we are presented with the setup for the kid it is all too maudlin and cartoonish with the drunkard father vs evil landlord and absurd auction.

Look, I like Spielberg, admire his work routinely and don't even mind his emotionally manipulative tendencies, it is what I like the most about his film making I suppose. I didn't dislike this movie, I just didn't feel it was good enough to deserve a BP nomination and this year I would have been fine with the Academy giving a nomination to HP8 just in recognition of what the series has meant to the industry if nothing else. Yes the last two movies should have been combined and the movies could have been better if Ms. Rowling had relinquished some control but all in all they still contained more inventiveness than The Help and I don't see too many people objecting to its insertion into the nominations.


Frankly I have found HP8 utterly unwatchable since the first viewing. But this point keeps coming up over and over again, and I just don't understand: the idea that films should be judged based on how much you care for the characters is ridiculous. If that's what you want, watch The Office. Movies are supposed to answer to a higher calling than that, namely a visual calling. I found the thinness of War Horse's characters to be among its most thrilling and successful elements, because it was able to lean back just on the visuals.


Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:46 pm
Post Re: WAR HORSE
MGamesCook wrote:
Frankly I have found HP8 utterly unwatchable since the first viewing. But this point keeps coming up over and over again, and I just don't understand: the idea that films should be judged based on how much you care for the characters is ridiculous. If that's what you want, watch The Office. Movies are supposed to answer to a higher calling than that, namely a visual calling. I found the thinness of War Horse's characters to be among its most thrilling and successful elements, because it was able to lean back just on the visuals.


I take it you enjoy watching screensavers then? After all they fit your model of excellence, no characters at all to get in the way of some pretty visuals.

-Jeremy


Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:35 am
Post Re: WAR HORSE
thered47 wrote:
MGamesCook wrote:
Frankly I have found HP8 utterly unwatchable since the first viewing. But this point keeps coming up over and over again, and I just don't understand: the idea that films should be judged based on how much you care for the characters is ridiculous. If that's what you want, watch The Office. Movies are supposed to answer to a higher calling than that, namely a visual calling. I found the thinness of War Horse's characters to be among its most thrilling and successful elements, because it was able to lean back just on the visuals.


I take it you enjoy watching screensavers then? After all they fit your model of excellence, no characters at all to get in the way of some pretty visuals.

-Jeremy

Yeah, I'm struggling to think of a "visual calling" that is somehow a "higher" calling than telling a story with characters. I'm also wondering how in the world anyone could possibly stomach the last 45 minutes of War Horse without caring--at least a little--about the characters involved. Without that, it would be... watching objects placed under falling snow. Is that... is that entertaining?

You bring up a good point on accident, though. Over the last several years, I really feel like television has overtaken movies (at least as far as mainstream American movies go) as the primary medium for top-flight storytellers telling good stories with interesting, relatable characters. Something like Parks and Recreation is funny and heart-warming in a way that very few mainstream comedies have managed in years. Something like Mad Men tells a complex story with deeply rounded characters better than almost all mainstream movies even attempt.

I remember JB writing a few years ago that he watched very little TV, and the shows he did watch (House, Lost, 24) he was in the process of abandoning. I'd be interested in hearing if this has changed in any way, as I really think the last 5 years have been an amazing time for TV--especially when compared to the movies.


Fri Jan 27, 2012 12:19 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
MGamesCook wrote:
Frankly I have found HP8 utterly unwatchable since the first viewing. But this point keeps coming up over and over again, and I just don't understand: the idea that films should be judged based on how much you care for the characters is ridiculous. If that's what you want, watch The Office. Movies are supposed to answer to a higher calling than that, namely a visual calling. I found the thinness of War Horse's characters to be among its most thrilling and successful elements, because it was able to lean back just on the visuals.


Who needs foley artists or John Williams? Hell lets just get rid of the awards for screenplays altogether. I've actually never seen The Office but perhaps you would enjoy PBS' Nature or Smithsonian's Aerial America. A kaleidoscope maybe?

I enjoy movies on different planes, sometimes visual, sometimes aural, sometimes cerebral and sometimes just to escape reality for a couple of hours. I already said I liked the cinematography of this one though I was confused with the choice of obvious supplemental lighting in some of the exteriors I assumed that was the "look" Spielberg was trying to achieve as he certainly isn't an amateur. I was much more impressed with the visuals in Hugo even setting 3D aside. The swoop down and through the train station was dazzling but I'm still fascinated with how they pulled off the shot down the spiral slide as well.

Sorry to have gored your ox or horse as it may be but I am not only not the champion of the Harry Potter movie that you have projected for your straw man argument, I am not a champion of this one. It is "lesser" Spielberg and in my own opinion is better than Hook but not as good as Always.


Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:55 pm
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Post Re: WAR HORSE
Just saw "War Horse".

What struck me was the different tone from most other modern movies. "War Horse" is a romantic movie, without any sense of cynicism, which I find extremely refreshing. The cinematography is great. The story a good allegory, more meaningful for reflection than emotion. In my opinion, this is one underrated movie, that will be more loved as the years go by.

What I found interesting was how many teenagers were at the theater yesterday and obviously enjoying the experience very much. I heard people laughing and saw physical reaction in the audience around me.

"War Horse" is like a shining light among much of the murky and emotionally empty film making taking place in Hollywood today.

Loved it!


Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:20 am
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