Box art for War Horse

War Horse

  • Rated PG13
  • HD and SD formats available

drama


From legendary director Steven Spielberg comes the epic adventure War Horse, a tale of incredible loyalty, hope and tenacity. This deeply heartfelt story begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and his young trainer Albert.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    77%
  • Audience Score
    74%

common sense

ON for kids age 13
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
Language
2 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
4 out of 5
Sex
0 out of 5
Violence
3 out of 5

Spielberg's sweeping horse drama is beautiful but intense.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the English children's book and hit Broadway show depicts war in a realistic manner that's too intense for younger kids. Despite being an earnest, sentimental horse drama, the war sequences show soldiers being killed in action (and for desertion) as well as a field of dead cavalry horses. Three subplots focusing on families depict their own wartime tragedies, including a drunk father; a sick, orphaned granddaughter; and a soldier trying to save his underage brother from going to the front line. But the heart of this story is the touching bond between Albert and his beloved horse, Joey, who might be the bravest horse ever portrayed on film.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. What is its impact? Do you think it should have been toned down to make the movie even more family friendly?
  • Talk about the techniques Spielberg uses to "humanize" Joey. Do the extreme close-ups and swelling score make it easy to relate to the horse? Were you expecting the focus to shift to Joey's adventures instead of Albert's?
  • Why are horse movies so popular with audiences? Compare War Horse to other famous horse-centered films.

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    77%
    reviews counted: 20
    see all War Horse reviews
  • Audience

    74%

Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: With the exception of a few lovely scenes, it's a hollow and bombastic piece of work, clobbering you over the head with its epic-ness when it's not cinematically yanking at your nosehairs in the hopes that you'll cry.

- Alonso Duralde, TheWrap, Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fresh: It's almost a great war movie in one direction, and almost a piece of irredeemable cheese in the other, and there you have it.

- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, Monday, December 26, 2011

Fresh: The incredible emotive power of this horse and the way in which the filmmakers were able to translate it on-screen are what stay with you.

- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times, Friday, December 23, 2011

Audience Reviews

3 stars

In War Horse, Spielberg uses his considerable talents to give us a film that feels like it could have been presented in the 40's or 50's - that type of "big" film where an all encompassing tale is told by what happens around the title character. Unfortunately its sentiments (except for the underlying "war sucks" theme) are equally stuck in that aw shucks kind of smaltz. However, there is no denying that the craft at work here is noteworthy - intentionally using a low camera angle, everything looks bigger than life; and the color saturation and use of shading and light are indeed expert - if only the script were equal to what Spielberg put into it. I'm not saying that the story sucks - but that it certainly requires you to suspend not only your logic, but your belief in so many instances, but once again, this happened so frequently in those aforementioned 40?s type films. In following the story line, there are coincidence heaped atop coincidence - and really , much of it I give a pass to - but the film should have ended with the young man being reunited with his horse - that would have been just perfect; but no, the script just couldn't leave well enough alone - having to tie up just about everything that had gone on before in one nice big package - unnecessary, and overly sappy; and truly unfortunate. So why the more than just passing grade? Well, because I got swept up in the wonder of it all - and was truly vested in what was to become of Joey the War Horse - and it only bugged me in a kind of subliminal way that the horses' actions often defied any kind of - dare I say it - horse sense. That Joey bonded with another stallion is not very likely , for in horsey world, said horse would be nothing more than a competitor for breeding rights , though it did make for some heart rendering scenes. I also have to comment that Spielberg's portrayal of the horror of war was magnificent : from scenes of carnage to the horrors of mustard gas and the barbed wire filled no-man's land; wow, the horror, the horror (to quote some colonel from a much later war). I really felt the message here - what is it all for? Why, throughout the history of our species, do we insist on nation building and taking sides ? Spielberg makes this abundantly clear in the poignant scene in no-man's land where a Brit and a German soldier meet to try to extricate Joey from a barbed wire entanglement (a metaphor perhaps). Here were two young men, on opposite sides, yet finding common ground in their mutual goal ; to the point where both had to have been wondering what they were fighting for - this so much reminded me of David Crosby's song "Wooden Ships" and the final line "we are leaving, you don?t need us". There is also a nice little subplot that deals with the industrial age and the end of an era. The charge of cavalry and close in fighting becoming taken over by rapid fire guns, heavy artillery and mechanized warfare and war becomes even more impersonal. So in closing, a very worthwhile film view for the craft and some of its sentiments, but held back from greatness by being overly sappy at times: like watching My Friend Flicka or Black Beauty; films from a simpler time.

- paulsandberg, Monday, December 24, 2012

3 stars

In War Horse, Spielberg uses his considerable talents to give us a film that feels like it could have been presented in the 40's or 50's - that type of "big" film where an all encompassing tale is told by what happens around the title character. Unfortunately its sentiments (except for the underlying "war sucks" theme) are equally stuck in that aw shucks kind of smaltz. However, there is no denying that the craft at work here is noteworthy - intentionally using a low camera angle, everything looks bigger than life; and the color saturation and use of shading and light are indeed expert - if only the script were equal to what Spielberg put into it. I'm not saying that the story sucks - but that it certainly requires you to suspend not only your logic, but your belief in so many instances, but once again, this happened so frequently in those aforementioned 40?s type films. In following the story line, there are coincidence heaped atop coincidence - and really , much of it I give a pass to - but the film should have ended with the young man being reunited with his horse - that would have been just perfect; but no, the script just couldn't leave well enough alone - having to tie up just about everything that had gone on before in one nice big package - unnecessary, and overly sappy; and truly unfortunate. So why the more than just passing grade? Well, because I got swept up in the wonder of it all - and was truly vested in what was to become of Joey the War Horse - and it only bugged me in a kind of subliminal way that the horses' actions often defied any kind of - dare I say it - horse sense. That Joey bonded with another stallion is not very likely , for in horsey world, said horse would be nothing more than a competitor for breeding rights , though it did make for some heart rendering scenes. I also have to comment that Spielberg's portrayal of the horror of war was magnificent : from scenes of carnage to the horrors of mustard gas and the barbed wire filled no-man's land; wow, the horror, the horror (to quote some colonel from a much later war). I really felt the message here - what is it all for? Why, throughout the history of our species, do we insist on nation building and taking sides ? Spielberg makes this abundantly clear in the poignant scene in no-man's land where a Brit and a German soldier meet to try to extricate Joey from a barbed wire entanglement (a metaphor perhaps). Here were two young men, on opposite sides, yet finding common ground in their mutual goal ; to the point where both had to have been wondering what they were fighting for - this so much reminded me of David Crosby's song "Wooden Ships" and the final line "we are leaving, you don?t need us". There is also a nice little subplot that deals with the industrial age and the end of an era. The charge of cavalry and close in fighting becoming taken over by rapid fire guns, heavy artillery and mechanized warfare and war becomes even more impersonal. So in closing, a very worthwhile film view for the craft and some of its sentiments, but held back from greatness by being overly sappy at times: like watching My Friend Flicka or Black Beauty; films from a simpler time.

- paulsandberg, Monday, December 24, 2012

2 stars

No thanks, Steve.

- fb1686480544, Sunday, February 17, 2013