War Horse is the first film by Steven Spielberg since 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The story revolves Albert Narracott and his relationship with a horse he trains named Joey. Joey has to leave Albert’s care because he gets sold to the Army as a war horse. Joey interacts with many people on both sides of the war while fighting to get back to his original owner Albert.
War Horse is one of those films that I watched in hopes of being astounded by the relationship between a man and his horse. I was not astounded nor was I intrigued by the relationship Albert had with Joey. The relationship between those two characters just didn’t work for me because everything in the film is either spelled out for the viewer or implied to occur in the film because of the dialogue or the camera shots chosen in a particular scene. The training of Joey the horse feels heartfelt in the beginning but after awhile Albert’s love for Joey feels obvious and at times forced. Joey does nothing that I find extraordinary or enchanting throughout the movie. Indeed, the horse does do whatever it takes to get back to his owner but there’s very little fear for me that the horse will not achieve its goal.
I love the environments that Joey ends up traveling to. Joey as a horse has no concept of culture or how torn apart countries are by war. The only thing Joey cares about is being loved and cared for wherever he goes. There is something remarkable about a horse with emotions who sees no difference in race and no differences in language or culture. There is something inviting and warm about Joey and horses in general because of that. The warmth that Joey displays towards others by just learning from them is what this film really should have been about.
The problem with War Horse is that every emotion is predictable and feels forced. Spielberg direction practically tells the audience what to feel. I despise when director’s show us everything when they really should let the story tell itself. If War Horse had a stronger story with more trials and tribulations for Joey than it would be a film I could fully support. Alas, Spielberg’s first film in three years does nothing to capture my heart or enliven my sense of wonder and imagination. War Horse should have battled harder to keep me emotionally connected and invested.