Tag Archives: David Thewlis

Brian’s Review – “War Horse”

Brian – 6 out of 10

There are three positive things I will say right off the bat while watching War Horse:

  1. There has never been a director who sat behind a camera in the history of film making that can hold a candle to Spielberg when it comes to shooting war battles. He is the master.
  2. Spielberg breaks the 2 major movie rules: Don’t work with kids and don’t work with animals and he does both successfully.
  3. Spielberg loves John Ford and tries to emulate his shots on several occasions and does that successfully as well.

Those three items are what rated this film a 6. So, what pulls it back from greatness? Well, the usual sappy Spielberg melodrama for starters. Why is it that every time something major happens between the main characters there’s an audience of starry eyed observers? Is there not enough of a dramatic undercurrent and paint by numbers storytelling that we really need a group of people to show us how we’re supposed to feel? That really annoyed me. Also, I get that the whole story is based on the idea that this young man loves his horse so much that he’s willing to join a war and put his life in danger to find him, but, why? Did the horse save his life? No. Did the horse do something that somehow changed the course of his life? Nope. Right from the first shot we’re led to believe that he’s infatuated with the horse. Once his father comes home with the steed, he stares at the animal with a lover’s eyes. It actually comes across as kinda creepy. He’s put in charge of training Joey (the horse’s name) and constantly presses his face to his and stares lovingly in the horse’s eyes while saying shit like, “Oh, c’mon Joey, you can do it. I believe in you.” Who the hell talks to an animal like that? It made me wonder whether he slept in the house or the barn.

Thank God the movie shifted tone about a third of the way through as the horse goes to war. When that happens, the film shifts main characters from the young man who trained him to a British officer, to a young boy and his brother going AWOL, to a young french girl and her Grandpa, and so on. I enjoyed that storytelling approach because we’re seeing the world from very different perspectives and the feeling has less of a Disney film. Where does it rank in the Spielberg filmography? Somewhere in the middle and that’s still better than most filmmakers who take a stab at such emotional material.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

The first installment of the two-part conclusion to the Harry Potter series finds the bespectacled wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) walking away from his last year at Hogwarts to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, putting an end to Voldemort’s bid for immortality. But with Harry‘s beloved Dumbledore dead and Voldemort’s unscrupulous Death Eaters on the loose, the world is more dangerous than ever.

Rating: 4 out of 10

To call this particular episode the weakest in the series is a drastic understatement. Why is that so?  Is it well directed?  Yes.  Is it well acted? Yes.  Does it have the same high budget polish as the films preceding it?  Definitely.

So, why am I rating this a lowly 4?  Well, I haven’t read the book but this episode is so fucking boring that I’m lead to believe that the only reason this was split into two parts was to line the wallets of the producers.  It starts interesting enough.  After the death of Dumbledore, Voldemort has his group of evil do’ers take over the Ministry of Magic and hunt down Harry Potter.  All of the great characters from the previous films show up to protect Harry and form a rebellion to stop Voldemort and his followers.  Then, about 45 minutes to an hour in, the movie comes to a grinding halt and should have been retitled “Harry Potter and the roasting of marshmallows” because they go camping — yes, camping — for about an hour of the film. What happens during this hour or so of camping?  Almost NOTHING!!  Ron is mad at Harry, Hermione has sexual tension with both of them, Harry reteams with Ron, and blah de blah blah.  When I say nothing happens, I’m not kidding.  Nothing happens!!  What does one do as a viewer for that hour while the three heroes go camping, aside from looking at our watch?  I sat there and tried to think of smart ass titles for the film. “Harry Potter and the tent pitchers” “Harry Potter and the satanic sleeping bag”  “Harry Potter and the struggle to interest the audience.”  You get the idea.  There’s a point where we literally sit and watch Harry think while there’s no dialogue.  Zzzzzzz.  And why did they do this?  Harry Potter’s last book isn’t even the longest one, according to Google.  That honor goes to Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix and they managed to turn that into a very good single film.  So, what are we left with?  A 2 ½ hour film with a couple bright moment marred by a middle section that will induce a coma.  It’s a shame too because I can see a great hour in this flick that could have been paired with the second to create one great film.  According to several Potter fans I know, the producers decided to follow the book almost word for word to create an “ultimate ending” to the franchise.  There is a world of difference between a great book and a great movie.  One is meant to be finished in one sitting and the other is not.