The story of a horse called Joey, who’s owned by a variety of people immediately before and during the Great War…
Seen before? No.
Best performance: Tom Hiddleston shows up about a third of the way in and gives the film a much-needed boost of energy.
Best scene/moment/sequence: The moment when the cavalry mount their horses in a wheat field is a beautiful image. The subsequent charge on the German camp is well staged, and ends with a powerful, high-angle wide shot. There’s later also a really good scene in No Man’s Land – one soldier from each side working together to free Joey from some barbed wire.
Review: War Horse begins like it’s an episode of Lark Rise to Candleford – we’re in rural England with poor-but-happy people who have Mummerset accents, archly villainous landlords and plenty of facial hair. The opening 40 minutes are as twee, simplistic and dull as a Spielberg movie has ever been. Then the First World War breaks out, which frankly comes as something of a relief. The pace picks up a bit, we get a bit more visual flair – but it’s too late. I was bored rigid, I’m sorry to say. The story moves on, new characters get introduced (some interesting, some mind-numbingly naff), but the leaden beginning ruined any chance of me enjoying the rest of the film.
Four Benedict Cumberbatch moustaches out of 10.