War Horse sneak preview screenings

Our Twitter pal Ryan Hoffman has found an announcement that War Horse will pop up in 7 theaters across the country over the next three days. Click here for further details, and check the list of cities after the cut. (If you live in or near one of these towns, keep an eye out for details in your local newspaper.)

Tue Nov 1, 2011 in Bellevue, WA
Tue Nov 1, 2011 in Leawood, KS
Tue Nov 1, 2011 in Cleveland Heights, OH
Wed Nov 2, 2011 in Beaverton, OR
Wed Nov 2, 2011 in Bethesda, MD
Wed Nov 2, 2011 in Plymouth Meeting, PA
Thu Nov 10, 2011 in Olathe, KS

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87 Comments

  1. Dennis
    November 1, 2011

    Ugh, the one near me tonight is already full.

  2. Dennis
    November 1, 2011

    Ugh, the one near me tonight is already full.

  3. Alex Pizziolo
    November 1, 2011

    Finally we’re gonna hear something about this film!

  4. Alex Pizziolo
    November 1, 2011

    Finally we’re gonna hear something about this film!

  5. Edward Douglas
    November 1, 2011

    Uh oh.. this means that War Horse’s chances at Best Picture are doomed… Doooooooooooomed!! :)

  6. Edward Douglas
    November 1, 2011

    Uh oh.. this means that War Horse’s chances at Best Picture are doomed… Doooooooooooomed!! :)

  7. Nic V
    November 1, 2011

    I don’t see how this means they’re doomed. Could be an excellent strategy. Nothing like word of mouth. I mean isn’t that done here and at other blogs all the time? What better press is there than an audience who has seen a film and then spreads the word about how much they liked it, how much it wrenched at their cold little hearts, how it brought a tear to their eyes? This is a difficult economy and feeding the sharks may just be the right ploy. And could also be a great way to fix any last minute questions [ie problems] before that wide Christmas release.

  8. Nic V
    November 1, 2011

    I don’t see how this means they’re doomed. Could be an excellent strategy. Nothing like word of mouth. I mean isn’t that done here and at other blogs all the time? What better press is there than an audience who has seen a film and then spreads the word about how much they liked it, how much it wrenched at their cold little hearts, how it brought a tear to their eyes? This is a difficult economy and feeding the sharks may just be the right ploy. And could also be a great way to fix any last minute questions [ie problems] before that wide Christmas release.

  9. Adam
    November 1, 2011

    Why would they choose 1) two theaters in Kansas and 2) a theater in Washington AND Oregon? Spread the love! Nothing in the deep south and nothing in the Northeast?

  10. Adam
    November 1, 2011

    Why would they choose 1) two theaters in Kansas and 2) a theater in Washington AND Oregon? Spread the love! Nothing in the deep south and nothing in the Northeast?

  11. Tero Heikkinen
    November 1, 2011

    So, just about a few hours and we should search “War Horse” on Twitter.

  12. Tero Heikkinen
    November 1, 2011

    So, just about a few hours and we should search “War Horse” on Twitter.

  13. The Pope
    November 1, 2011

    They’re getting it out early because they KNOW they have a huge hit on their hands. Why else play it so soon? Bad movies are kept under wraps but when you have something good, you want to yell it from the rooftops.

    WAR HORSE, the billion dollar baby.

  14. The Pope
    November 1, 2011

    They’re getting it out early because they KNOW they have a huge hit on their hands. Why else play it so soon? Bad movies are kept under wraps but when you have something good, you want to yell it from the rooftops.

    WAR HORSE, the billion dollar baby.

  15. Bennett
    November 1, 2011

    I live in Cleveland Heights, but I go to college in New York!!! NOOOOOOO

  16. Bennett
    November 1, 2011

    I live in Cleveland Heights, but I go to college in New York!!! NOOOOOOO

  17. steve50
    November 1, 2011

    “Why would they choose 1) two theaters in Kansas and 2) a theater in Washington AND Oregon? Spread the love! Nothing in the deep south and nothing in the Northeast?”

    I’m guessing they are certain they have a big hit on their hands and aren’t bothering with building WOM in the northeast or Dixie, with their built-in massive PG audiences. Strong endorsements from both the heartland and the more jaded Pacific Northwest will simply light the rocket.

  18. steve50
    November 1, 2011

    “Why would they choose 1) two theaters in Kansas and 2) a theater in Washington AND Oregon? Spread the love! Nothing in the deep south and nothing in the Northeast?”

    I’m guessing they are certain they have a big hit on their hands and aren’t bothering with building WOM in the northeast or Dixie, with their built-in massive PG audiences. Strong endorsements from both the heartland and the more jaded Pacific Northwest will simply light the rocket.

  19. Tero Heikkinen
    November 1, 2011

    Any actual critics seeing this today? of course, the public will love this.

    OT: RIP Gil Cates.

  20. Tero Heikkinen
    November 1, 2011

    Any actual critics seeing this today? of course, the public will love this.

    OT: RIP Gil Cates.

  21. James Francis McAnderson
    November 1, 2011

    Would The Help be anything if it hadn’t made any money? No it wouldn’t.

  22. James Francis McAnderson
    November 1, 2011

    Would The Help be anything if it hadn’t made any money? No it wouldn’t.

  23. Sam
    November 1, 2011

    When I saw The Rum Diaries this weekend, they showed the trailer for War Horse. I’m not really feeling it. I believe the Academy will eat it up, but it looks Spielberg (again) is trying to get another award. I love the man, he has made so many great films that his legacy is damn near untouchable, but this doesn’t appeal to my tastes. The cinematography looks great though. Pushing this film for awards is fine, but I worry it could have an effect on Spielberg’s more anticipated work, Lincoln.

  24. Sam
    November 1, 2011

    When I saw The Rum Diaries this weekend, they showed the trailer for War Horse. I’m not really feeling it. I believe the Academy will eat it up, but it looks Spielberg (again) is trying to get another award. I love the man, he has made so many great films that his legacy is damn near untouchable, but this doesn’t appeal to my tastes. The cinematography looks great though. Pushing this film for awards is fine, but I worry it could have an effect on Spielberg’s more anticipated work, Lincoln.

  25. Rashad
    November 1, 2011

    Billionaire Beard doesn’t give a shit about awards. He saw the play, loved it, and wanted to make the movie.

  26. Rashad
    November 1, 2011

    Billionaire Beard doesn’t give a shit about awards. He saw the play, loved it, and wanted to make the movie.

  27. bill
    November 1, 2011

    thank you rashad, thank you. you speak truth!

    sash, could you compile opinions when they start coming in!!!????

    THANKS! :)

  28. bill
    November 1, 2011

    thank you rashad, thank you. you speak truth!

    sash, could you compile opinions when they start coming in!!!????

    THANKS! :)

  29. ally
    November 1, 2011

    WTF, never would I have thunk that a major movie would have an early screening in Beaverton Oregon of all places (where I live). And OF COURSE the impossible would happen while I’m at school two hours south.

  30. ally
    November 1, 2011

    WTF, never would I have thunk that a major movie would have an early screening in Beaverton Oregon of all places (where I live). And OF COURSE the impossible would happen while I’m at school two hours south.

  31. The Great Dane
    November 1, 2011

    Any word yet?? From ANYONE who has seen it?

    My two hardest, longest movie cries ever was during The Color Purple and A.I., so even if the film is not perfect, and even if Spielberg manipulates the SHIT out of my, I know I’m gonna sob like a baby. Can’t wait. :)

  32. The Great Dane
    November 1, 2011

    Any word yet?? From ANYONE who has seen it?

    My two hardest, longest movie cries ever was during The Color Purple and A.I., so even if the film is not perfect, and even if Spielberg manipulates the SHIT out of my, I know I’m gonna sob like a baby. Can’t wait. :)

  33. The Great Dane
    November 1, 2011

    out of my = out of me

    :)

  34. The Great Dane
    November 1, 2011

    out of my = out of me
    :)

  35. steve50
    November 1, 2011

    I was tempted to boot it across the border to catch it in Bellevue, but saner thoughts took over. Looking forward to the early reports, though – hope we see some soon.

  36. steve50
    November 1, 2011

    I was tempted to boot it across the border to catch it in Bellevue, but saner thoughts took over. Looking forward to the early reports, though – hope we see some soon.

  37. Watermelons
    November 1, 2011

    Jay Leno monologue pitch: “Have you heard this? Have you guys heard about this?? There’s a movie, ehhhhhhh, called War Horse coming out this Christmas. Yeah. It’s a, uh, remake of Braveheart starring Sarah Jessica Parker! Hehehehe.”

  38. Watermelons
    November 1, 2011

    Jay Leno monologue pitch: “Have you heard this? Have you guys heard about this?? There’s a movie, ehhhhhhh, called War Horse coming out this Christmas. Yeah. It’s a, uh, remake of Braveheart starring Sarah Jessica Parker! Hehehehe.”

  39. Watermelons
    November 1, 2011

    @The Great Dane

    “My two hardest, longest movie cries ever was during The Color Purple and A.I., so even if the film is not perfect, and even if Spielberg manipulates the SHIT out of my, I know I’m gonna sob like a baby.”

    I’m with you 200% on The Color Purple.

  40. Watermelons
    November 1, 2011

    @The Great Dane

    “My two hardest, longest movie cries ever was during The Color Purple and A.I., so even if the film is not perfect, and even if Spielberg manipulates the SHIT out of my, I know I’m gonna sob like a baby.”

    I’m with you 200% on The Color Purple.

  41. Dennis
    November 1, 2011

    Ended up getting a ticket; waiting in line right now!!

  42. Dennis
    November 1, 2011

    Ended up getting a ticket; waiting in line right now!!

  43. Tero Heikkinen
    November 1, 2011

    ^Jealous.

    I found a comment I had written on another forum the moment I heard about War Horse. I was like “Is he serious? A movie about a horse? Spielberg, come oooon!”

    Never doubt that guy.

  44. Tero Heikkinen
    November 1, 2011

    ^Jealous.

    I found a comment I had written on another forum the moment I heard about War Horse. I was like “Is he serious? A movie about a horse? Spielberg, come oooon!”

    Never doubt that guy.

  45. Rufussondheim
    November 1, 2011

    Plymouth Meeting, PA (one of the seven places it was showing) is a suburb of Philly and is definitely in my sphere of activity. Sadly, the show was sold out.

    I was thinking of stalking the exits, but then I realized I would rather watch The Big Bang Theory in syndication.

    On a happier note, I am listening to Sophia by Laura Marling on her latest CD, it’s wonderful

    I also just watched Crazy, Stupid, Love and I enjoyed it thoroughly (yes, of course it’s unrealistic, it wasn’t an exercise in realism, people!) I loved the emotions at the core of the story. They felt incredibly real. What a set of four leads, all of them were completely strong. Sadly, none has a shot at a nomination.

    Carrell is such a subtle actor and does this character perfectly. I really love this guy when he plays a character in the milieu. Dan in Real Life was extremely good. It’s hard to believe Tom Hanks, who is more fake than Bruce Jenner’s face, has two Oscars and Steve Carrell is never even in the mix. Oh Well.

    I also like Gosling a great deal. Sure, it was no Half Nelson (my fave performance by anyone in the last decade) but he played out of his safe zone and transitioned nicely into the final scenes without a problem.

    This wasn’t Julianne Moore’s best performance by a long shot (Safe is my fave) but it was nice to see the Twilight joke in the proper context and it’s an ingeniously written sequence.

    Emma Stone is a major star waiting to happen. I’m looking forward to seeing her for many years. Some may say she is a major star already, but I mean MAJOR.

  46. Rufussondheim
    November 1, 2011

    Plymouth Meeting, PA (one of the seven places it was showing) is a suburb of Philly and is definitely in my sphere of activity. Sadly, the show was sold out.

    I was thinking of stalking the exits, but then I realized I would rather watch The Big Bang Theory in syndication.

    On a happier note, I am listening to Sophia by Laura Marling on her latest CD, it’s wonderful

    I also just watched Crazy, Stupid, Love and I enjoyed it thoroughly (yes, of course it’s unrealistic, it wasn’t an exercise in realism, people!) I loved the emotions at the core of the story. They felt incredibly real. What a set of four leads, all of them were completely strong. Sadly, none has a shot at a nomination.

    Carrell is such a subtle actor and does this character perfectly. I really love this guy when he plays a character in the milieu. Dan in Real Life was extremely good. It’s hard to believe Tom Hanks, who is more fake than Bruce Jenner’s face, has two Oscars and Steve Carrell is never even in the mix. Oh Well.

    I also like Gosling a great deal. Sure, it was no Half Nelson (my fave performance by anyone in the last decade) but he played out of his safe zone and transitioned nicely into the final scenes without a problem.

    This wasn’t Julianne Moore’s best performance by a long shot (Safe is my fave) but it was nice to see the Twilight joke in the proper context and it’s an ingeniously written sequence.

    Emma Stone is a major star waiting to happen. I’m looking forward to seeing her for many years. Some may say she is a major star already, but I mean MAJOR.

  47. November 1, 2011

    There’s a screening in Houston on Thursday…there is a big city in the mix, just FYI.

  48. November 1, 2011

    There’s a screening in Houston on Thursday…there is a big city in the mix, just FYI.

  49. wisconsinkel
    November 1, 2011

    Beaverton, Oregon? Why not Chicago or Minneapolis?

  50. wisconsinkel
    November 1, 2011

    Beaverton, Oregon? Why not Chicago or Minneapolis?

  51. Chris138
    November 1, 2011

    I really wanna go to the DC one, but unfortunately I can’t make it. I’d love to hear what the people who are able to see it think of it afterward, though.

  52. Chris138
    November 1, 2011

    I really wanna go to the DC one, but unfortunately I can’t make it. I’d love to hear what the people who are able to see it think of it afterward, though.

  53. Michael D
    November 1, 2011

    Here’s an early compilation of first reactions:

    http://www.movieparliament.com/campaign-articles.html

  54. Michael D
    November 1, 2011

    Here’s an early compilation of first reactions:

    http://www.movieparliament.com/campaign-articles.html

  55. guany
    November 1, 2011

    This was AWFUL. Nothing but Oscar bait. I’m very disappointed.

  56. guany
    November 1, 2011

    This was AWFUL. Nothing but Oscar bait. I’m very disappointed.

  57. Jim Fine
    November 2, 2011

    Nice review from one of the Nov 1 previews here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z35opLS6MhQ&feature=player_embedded

  58. Jim Fine
    November 2, 2011

    Nice review from one of the Nov 1 previews here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z35opLS6MhQ&feature=player_embedded

  59. Rufussondheim
    November 2, 2011

    Actually, that review encapsulates everything about this film that I think will be terrible. All surface, no substance. Maybe it’s the fault of the reviewer (well, he does admit that Spielberg is his favorite director).

    If his top praise is that the horse is unbiased, then I fear for the movie. Nothing about how the characters or horse moved him emotionally, made him see things in a new way, or made him think about things differently (well, except he wanted to hug a horse afterwards) At least in Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan his technical expertise is overwhelming emotionally – it isn’t until you think about them afterwards until their flaws become apparent.

    Much what one would expect from a Spielberg film (“Looks great, sounds great”) but that’s about it.

  60. Rufussondheim
    November 2, 2011

    Actually, that review encapsulates everything about this film that I think will be terrible. All surface, no substance. Maybe it’s the fault of the reviewer (well, he does admit that Spielberg is his favorite director).

    If his top praise is that the horse is unbiased, then I fear for the movie. Nothing about how the characters or horse moved him emotionally, made him see things in a new way, or made him think about things differently (well, except he wanted to hug a horse afterwards) At least in Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan his technical expertise is overwhelming emotionally – it isn’t until you think about them afterwards until their flaws become apparent.

    Much what one would expect from a Spielberg film (“Looks great, sounds great”) but that’s about it.

  61. Rashad
    November 2, 2011

    Yes, rufus, no one loves Spielberg’s movies for more than just visuals. Sure.

  62. Rashad
    November 2, 2011

    Yes, rufus, no one loves Spielberg’s movies for more than just visuals. Sure.

  63. AS
    November 2, 2011

    Going tonight! So excited… Yesterday it appeared as full and now I just got a ticket, so keep trying.

  64. AS
    November 2, 2011

    Going tonight! So excited… Yesterday it appeared as full and now I just got a ticket, so keep trying.

  65. Jim Fine
    November 2, 2011

    Sasha – you’ve still got War Horse with a 28 December opening date on the side bar >>>>>>>>>>>>>. It was changed to 25 December over a month ago!

  66. Jim Fine
    November 2, 2011

    Sasha – you’ve still got War Horse with a 28 December opening date on the side bar >>>>>>>>>>>>>. It was changed to 25 December over a month ago!

  67. guany
    November 2, 2011

    The only good thing I have to say about this is that it’s nice to look at.

  68. guany
    November 2, 2011

    The only good thing I have to say about this is that it’s nice to look at.

  69. Rufussondheim
    November 2, 2011

    My point, Rashad, is that this reviewer didn’t seem overwhelmed by how good this film was. Sure, he was gushing, but nowhere in the review did he rank this among the best Spielberg films. And this is a guy who readily admits that Spielberg is his favorite director. All he could muster was an A-.

    Doesn’t bode will for “Best Picture” status.

    I have to wonder if, at this point, Spielberg’s films need to be even better than his past films to undergo serious consideration for a Best Pic win. He’s won two directing awards already. It reminds me of Meryl Streep, in a way. People say she needs to be even better in order to win a third. Will the same hold true for Spielberg? I don’t know. But if that’s the case, then it seems like, based on this one review, that this is not the movie that will win another Best Director nor a Best Pic.

    It’s obviously way too early to tell about the awards prospects for War Horse. But this review is really all we have to go on with regards to this film. But that’s more than we’ve had before.

    This is about what I’ve expected, though. The book and the play can anthropomorphise (is that a word?) the horse, but that’s extremely hard to do with a horse on film. I was in a horse-owning family for years, and I can say that horses are not dogs. It’s hard to find human qualities, and human thought processes, in them. And, thus, I imagine it will be hard to get humans to empathize with the horse in this film, something the audience will need to do in order for this film to be in the top tier of Oscar contenders.

  70. Rufussondheim
    November 2, 2011

    My point, Rashad, is that this reviewer didn’t seem overwhelmed by how good this film was. Sure, he was gushing, but nowhere in the review did he rank this among the best Spielberg films. And this is a guy who readily admits that Spielberg is his favorite director. All he could muster was an A-.

    Doesn’t bode will for “Best Picture” status.

    I have to wonder if, at this point, Spielberg’s films need to be even better than his past films to undergo serious consideration for a Best Pic win. He’s won two directing awards already. It reminds me of Meryl Streep, in a way. People say she needs to be even better in order to win a third. Will the same hold true for Spielberg? I don’t know. But if that’s the case, then it seems like, based on this one review, that this is not the movie that will win another Best Director nor a Best Pic.

    It’s obviously way too early to tell about the awards prospects for War Horse. But this review is really all we have to go on with regards to this film. But that’s more than we’ve had before.

    This is about what I’ve expected, though. The book and the play can anthropomorphise (is that a word?) the horse, but that’s extremely hard to do with a horse on film. I was in a horse-owning family for years, and I can say that horses are not dogs. It’s hard to find human qualities, and human thought processes, in them. And, thus, I imagine it will be hard to get humans to empathize with the horse in this film, something the audience will need to do in order for this film to be in the top tier of Oscar contenders.

  71. guany
    November 2, 2011

    Ok, I’m going to post my full thoughts (already posted on the forums and Hollywood Elsewhere).

    There are spoilers, btw.

    There are two core problems with War Horse. The first is that we are told on several occasions by multiple characters that Joey, the War Horse, is special, amazing, brave, etc. However, we are never actually shown anything from the horse that warrants this admiration from the humans. The only time during the film in which I actually believed it was the very beginning when Albert, who is enamored and fascinated with Joey, gains the horse’s trust and teaches him how to ride and plough among other things. Albert, however, is a lonely child who lives on a farm and apparently only has one friend. So it makes sense that he would be obsessed with Joey.

    The other problem is that the story itself has no plausibility nor believability. In the hell that was World War I, this horse would have been shot dead on multiple occasions without anyone batting an eye. So many moments ring false, including a brotherly encounter between a Brit and German as they work together to free the horse in no man’s land, or when dozens of British soldiers pool their money together so that Albert can buy back Joey at the end of the war. Why do any of these people care? Why should they? It’s not realistic. Another ridiculous scene is when about 30 or so German soldiers are retreating due to an oncoming British tank, which then decides to turn right and chase the horse instead and back it into a corner… because God knows that is how one wins a war.

    It is such a shame that with a cast of this caliber, there is not one noteworthy performance in the film. Every single character is one-dimensional: the wide-eyed kid and his goofy sidekick of a best friend; the tough yet fragile mother; the drunk and constantly disappointing father; the “evil” landlord and his entitled son; the blue-eyed, blond haired Captain who promises to return the horse; the arrogant and competitive Major who leads his men to a massacre; the lovable grandfather and his sickly granddaughter; the “evil” German soldiers who shoot horses with no remorse, accompanied by the one sole “good” German who cares for the horses and eventually sets them free; the kind Major who plays his generosity close the chest. I guess Arestrup gives the best performance, but he’s not getting nominated.

    I cannot believe that Michael Kahn actually edited this? Not only was the pacing dreadful (especially for the first 30 mins), but many of the cuts themselves are cheap. The first 5 minutes of the film is a series of fade-ins and fade-outs, and there is one especially egregious edit from goes from a close-up of Watson’s knitting wool to the family’s crops. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. On that note, when I wasn’t laughing, I was rolling my eyes. I don’t know if I’ve ever rolled my eyes more at a film.

    There are a lot of problems with Spielberg’s direction too. Not only was the tone all wrong, but he made a lot of lazy decisions. I don’t know how many more sweeping pans around the horses I could have stomached. The first battle sequence, in which the British calvary ambushes some Germans is basically the polar opposite of the horror in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. I was actually laughing at images of a German soldier getting slashed by a sword and knocking over a kettle of boiling water as well as two clueless Germans inside a tent before it gets torn away. Between this, the orgasm/terrorism flashback in Munich, and everything about the latest Indiana Jones, it appears that he’s lost his touch. And it really is too bad.

    As for John William’s score, it is nothing to write home about. While that main theme we all know from the trailer is beautiful, it loses all of its emotional impact because of how many times it is used. Like, 80% of the score seems to be that one track. Everytime the horse does something “inspirational”, that track plays. Joey stands up–cue music–Joey walks–cue music–Joey runs–cue music–Albert rides Joey–cue music–Joey finally ploughs–cue music, etc. By the time they finally get to the war, that theme did nothing for me…. and that’s when it should have the most impact!

    The film will of course go over gangbusters with the Academy and be recognized with a plethora of nominations. The majority of AD, on the other hand, is going to hate this. You thought the trailer was bad? Just wait.

    As for its Oscar potential, Picture and Director nominations are practically locked, as are Editing, Cinematography, and Score. Art Direction and Costumes are very likely, but I’m not sure about Adapted Screenplay or the Sound categories. I could see it getting one of Mixing or Editing, but not both.

    When it comes to wins, I personally don’t think this will win Best Picture, but with the Academy one never knows. Editing isn’t likely unless it wins BP, and Score probably won’t happen because of The Artist. Even if this wins Best Picture, I would be kind of surprised if this won Screenplay; at this point, before we know more about Extremely Loud and Dragon Tattoo, I would say that The Descendants is the best bet in that category. War Horse’s best shot at a win is Cinematography, and while it is good, it is anything but inspired and far from Janusz Kaminski’s best work. Yet it will likely be the “prettiest” of the nominees, and considering how the Academy always goes for the “prettiest”, it will probably win.

    Oh, and two more things: this is only playing in a number of smaller cities this week. It didn’t play in Seattle, but in Bellevue. It didn’t play in Portland, but in Beaverton (where?). That, coupled with the fact that the announcement of these screenings were practically last minute, indicates to me that Dreamworks is trying to avoid the critics.

    The other thing is that four people walked out of my screening during the first hour…

  72. guany
    November 2, 2011

    Ok, I’m going to post my full thoughts (already posted on the forums and Hollywood Elsewhere).

    There are spoilers, btw.

    There are two core problems with War Horse. The first is that we are told on several occasions by multiple characters that Joey, the War Horse, is special, amazing, brave, etc. However, we are never actually shown anything from the horse that warrants this admiration from the humans. The only time during the film in which I actually believed it was the very beginning when Albert, who is enamored and fascinated with Joey, gains the horse’s trust and teaches him how to ride and plough among other things. Albert, however, is a lonely child who lives on a farm and apparently only has one friend. So it makes sense that he would be obsessed with Joey.

    The other problem is that the story itself has no plausibility nor believability. In the hell that was World War I, this horse would have been shot dead on multiple occasions without anyone batting an eye. So many moments ring false, including a brotherly encounter between a Brit and German as they work together to free the horse in no man’s land, or when dozens of British soldiers pool their money together so that Albert can buy back Joey at the end of the war. Why do any of these people care? Why should they? It’s not realistic. Another ridiculous scene is when about 30 or so German soldiers are retreating due to an oncoming British tank, which then decides to turn right and chase the horse instead and back it into a corner… because God knows that is how one wins a war.

    It is such a shame that with a cast of this caliber, there is not one noteworthy performance in the film. Every single character is one-dimensional: the wide-eyed kid and his goofy sidekick of a best friend; the tough yet fragile mother; the drunk and constantly disappointing father; the “evil” landlord and his entitled son; the blue-eyed, blond haired Captain who promises to return the horse; the arrogant and competitive Major who leads his men to a massacre; the lovable grandfather and his sickly granddaughter; the “evil” German soldiers who shoot horses with no remorse, accompanied by the one sole “good” German who cares for the horses and eventually sets them free; the kind Major who plays his generosity close the chest. I guess Arestrup gives the best performance, but he’s not getting nominated.

    I cannot believe that Michael Kahn actually edited this? Not only was the pacing dreadful (especially for the first 30 mins), but many of the cuts themselves are cheap. The first 5 minutes of the film is a series of fade-ins and fade-outs, and there is one especially egregious edit from goes from a close-up of Watson’s knitting wool to the family’s crops. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. On that note, when I wasn’t laughing, I was rolling my eyes. I don’t know if I’ve ever rolled my eyes more at a film.

    There are a lot of problems with Spielberg’s direction too. Not only was the tone all wrong, but he made a lot of lazy decisions. I don’t know how many more sweeping pans around the horses I could have stomached. The first battle sequence, in which the British calvary ambushes some Germans is basically the polar opposite of the horror in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan. I was actually laughing at images of a German soldier getting slashed by a sword and knocking over a kettle of boiling water as well as two clueless Germans inside a tent before it gets torn away. Between this, the orgasm/terrorism flashback in Munich, and everything about the latest Indiana Jones, it appears that he’s lost his touch. And it really is too bad.

    As for John William’s score, it is nothing to write home about. While that main theme we all know from the trailer is beautiful, it loses all of its emotional impact because of how many times it is used. Like, 80% of the score seems to be that one track. Everytime the horse does something “inspirational”, that track plays. Joey stands up–cue music–Joey walks–cue music–Joey runs–cue music–Albert rides Joey–cue music–Joey finally ploughs–cue music, etc. By the time they finally get to the war, that theme did nothing for me…. and that’s when it should have the most impact!

    The film will of course go over gangbusters with the Academy and be recognized with a plethora of nominations. The majority of AD, on the other hand, is going to hate this. You thought the trailer was bad? Just wait.

    As for its Oscar potential, Picture and Director nominations are practically locked, as are Editing, Cinematography, and Score. Art Direction and Costumes are very likely, but I’m not sure about Adapted Screenplay or the Sound categories. I could see it getting one of Mixing or Editing, but not both.

    When it comes to wins, I personally don’t think this will win Best Picture, but with the Academy one never knows. Editing isn’t likely unless it wins BP, and Score probably won’t happen because of The Artist. Even if this wins Best Picture, I would be kind of surprised if this won Screenplay; at this point, before we know more about Extremely Loud and Dragon Tattoo, I would say that The Descendants is the best bet in that category. War Horse’s best shot at a win is Cinematography, and while it is good, it is anything but inspired and far from Janusz Kaminski’s best work. Yet it will likely be the “prettiest” of the nominees, and considering how the Academy always goes for the “prettiest”, it will probably win.

    Oh, and two more things: this is only playing in a number of smaller cities this week. It didn’t play in Seattle, but in Bellevue. It didn’t play in Portland, but in Beaverton (where?). That, coupled with the fact that the announcement of these screenings were practically last minute, indicates to me that Dreamworks is trying to avoid the critics.

    The other thing is that four people walked out of my screening during the first hour…

  73. Tero Heikkinen
    November 2, 2011

    Rufus, I hate you.

    The next time I see you on a War Horse thread – I just stop reading.

    Fuck.

  74. Tero Heikkinen
    November 2, 2011

    Rufus, I hate you.

    The next time I see you on a War Horse thread – I just stop reading.

    Fuck.

  75. November 2, 2011

    I saw it tonight and substantially agree with guany, who explains it better than I could :-)

    I’m not so sure on its lock status for Oscars though. Sometimes you see something sappy and know people are going to eat it up, but I didn’t really feel that with War Horse.

  76. November 2, 2011

    I saw it tonight and substantially agree with guany, who explains it better than I could :-)

    I’m not so sure on its lock status for Oscars though. Sometimes you see something sappy and know people are going to eat it up, but I didn’t really feel that with War Horse.

  77. mileshigh
    November 4, 2011

    There was a screening in Denver on November 1st. I’m attending a screening on November 9th in Denver at Cherry Creek. Can’t wait!

  78. mileshigh
    November 4, 2011

    There was a screening in Denver on November 1st. I’m attending a screening on November 9th in Denver at Cherry Creek. Can’t wait!

  79. September 27, 2012

    Thanks for sharing this great article, I really enjoyed the insign you bring to the topic, awesome stuff!

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