Sunday, December 25, 2011
Steven Spielberg directed this drama about a horse that experiences many challenges through several owners throughout Europe just prior to and during the first World War. Can this horse rise to the occasions and save the day? Hmm, what do you think??
I must say I don't really understand who the target audience is here. For the first third, it seemed like a live action Disney film geared towards kids. But once the war gets under way, it no longer seems appropriate for children. So I suppose it's for adult lovers of all things equine? Admittedly I don't really get any of the plethora of horse movies that have been made. Personally, I prefer my protagonists to be adult humans. Of course, I can appreciate that Spielberg knows how to make a technically good film. The shots are nice to look at, the actors are all on the same page and give good performances (although no one particularly stands out, with the possible exception of David Thewlis and Benedict Cumberbatch, both of whom seem to pop up everywhere I look these days), and the orchestral score by John Williams is the best thing about it, appropriately sweeping and triumphant when warranted. But the bottom line here is the film is cliched and dull. And that's perhaps the worst film sin of all. I'd be more generous if the running time were 100 minutes rather than the overindulgent two and a half hours. At that length you better deliver something really compelling and not just 'Black Beauty' meets 'Forrest Gump'. (Though my colleagues in the Broadcast Film Critics Association nominated it as one of the Best Pictures of 2011. That perplexes me.)