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War Horse Review

Movies.com Critics

4.0

Dave White Profile

Spielberg takes back the reins. Read full review

3.5

Grae Drake Profile

Makes you swear off gelatin forever. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0
    72

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 60

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    The result is a film that may stay in the mind's eye longer than it lingers in the heart.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Whatever its missteps, this is a film that kids, middle-aged adults and grandparents can all see -- together or separately -- and get something out of in their own ways. There are precious few films that fit this description today and hats off to Spielberg for making one.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    War Horse will likely take its place alongside beloved family films. But that doesn't mean sitting through it is pure pleasure. It's a long slog at almost 2½ hours, and occasionally it resorts to obvious sentimentality. At times it's hard to escape the sense that we're watching "Saving Private Ryan"-meets-"The Black Stallion."

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    This is a beautifully built, classically framed movie, shot with the unshowy natural expressiveness of a John Ford Western by Spielberg's great cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski.

    Read Full Review

  • See all War Horse reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

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.

  • 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.

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Albert and Joey's relationship is a story of perseverance, loyalty, and unwavering friendship. The two belong together, and Joey is committed not only to serving his country but to finding his beloved horse again. There are also messages about war -- both that it's an honor to serve your nation but that it's a tragedy to have to die for it.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Albert is an amazing young man. He's dedicated and disciplined to train and teach Joey and later to find him again. He's brave during battle and selfless in his actions. Despite his courage, he's also quite kind and sweet. A German soldier tries to save his younger brother from fighting, even if by doing so he endangers himself. A French grandfather and his sick, precocious granddaughter have a beautiful relationship that's combative but close.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: The war scenes aren't sugar-coated. They're not as graphic as the R-rated Saving Private Ryan, but there's definitely a body count -- with dead and injured soldiers and horses shown. Most of the disturbing war scenes are in the movie's second half. Particularly upsetting moments include two young soldiers being shot for deserting, other key supporting characters (including a horse) being killed in action or from exhaustion, and a major character being injured (it's unsure whether he'll make it or not).

  • sex false0

    Sex: A teenager flirts with a girl he's driving around town; Albert shows off on Joey in front of them.

  • language false2

    Language: British slang/insults like "barmy," "bugger," "bloody," "daft," "stupid git," "old sod," "fool of a father," and the like. Also "hell," "damn," and "good lord" (as an exclamation).

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Mr. Narracott drinks and seems to be known for being drunk on a regular basis. He stumbles around and slurs his words on occasion.

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