Title: War Horse

Format: 4-Disc Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Written by: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis

Starring: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Jeremy Irvine

Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment, Dreamworks Pictures

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blu-ray Rating: ★★½☆☆

Review by: Bill Jones

The Film

War Horse is unique in that it essentially tells the story of a war from the perspective of an animal used in war. It features a number of human characters, the most prominent of which is Albert (Jeremy Irvine), the son of the owner of the horse Joey sold off to the cavalry, but ultimately the story is about the horse and what it endures in the midst of this human war.

But despite the promising premise and the acclaim it has received, War Horse is a disjointed, overly long film that lacks direction and more so focus in its execution, leaving viewers with a film that puts forth a lot of effort but fails to hit its mark. It boils down to a lot of action and moments, but the only lasting impression I had was one particularly amusing grammar joke made in the midst of some self-awareness that the Germans in this film speak English, but with accents.

War Horse is overly sappy at the wrong times, and utterly predictable in its resolutions. The craft of the filmmaking is there, but it ultimately amounts to having a number of top-tier ingredients and making sort of a lopsided, slightly overcooked dish out of it. It’s still edible, but it’s more mundane frozen dinner than exciting gourmet.

The Blu-ray

This becomes particularly evident in the special features that are part of the four-disc Blu-ray set. Between the two Blu-ray discs, there is a bevy of extra content, but it’s mostly quantity over quality. Between editing, sound and productions features, there’s a lot on the “how” of the movie being made, but little on the “why,” and it’s ultimately indicative of the final product. To toss out one more simile, it’s a lot like someone else saw a Blu-ray package with a much better extensive array of features and did a bad job at imitating it. Actually, it’s exactly like that.

For more info, www.warhorsemovie.com

Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-ray courtesy of the studio for review purposes.