By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
“War Horse” isn’t kid’s stuff. Parts of Steven Spielberg’s epic set during World War I recall the violence from “Saving Private Ryan,” the director’s unblemished look at World War II.
It’s heartbreaking to see Joey the horse run through No Man’s Land between German and British forces. Anyone who’s ever loved an animal will squirm at the sight.
“War Horse” is a true roller coaster of a film, balancing out the madness of war with touching moments of humanity. The horse is the central character, but the story shows men at their best and worst. For the most part, women are depicted only at their best.
The movie opens with Joey’s birth. After he grows up, a drunken father, Ted (Peter Mullan), foolishly spends too much money on the horse at an auction.
His son, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), dotes on the horse and brings out the best in him.
The relationships ends abruptly when Ted sells Joey to a cavalry officer. Ted’s wife, Rose (Emily Watson), gets to deliver the movie’s best line to her husband: “I could love you no less, but I could hate you more.”
Joey joins the army, and through a sequence of violent events, he goes in and out of the lives of English soldiers, German soldiers and civilians.
In a parallel story, Albert has his own troubles as an infantry man forced to flee the relative safety of a trench to face a barrage of German bullets.
This movie goes to uncomfortable places, but it’s also filled with grace notes, such as a sick girl’s smile and a goose’s comical aggression
When the credits rolled, I felt like I’d gone through an emotional ringer. Spielberg is a master manipulator. He gets heavy-handed at times, but there’s no denying the power of his vision.
I give “War Horse” an A minus.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7: She gives “War Horse” a B plus. “It is not what you think you are going to see. It is definitely not a kid’s movie.”