Tuesday, December 27, 2011
War Horse...schmaltzy family pic pulls at heart strings! Misses cinematic mark!
On occasion, Steven Spielberg takes the helm behind the camera - at which point - it becomes evident that the project is close to his heart.
When it comes to "War Horse" (a blah title for a film, by the way) the studio maverick has revealed his underlying passion for old-style traditional filmmaking replete with capable ensemble cast, exquisite period sets and costumes (with attention to lush precise details), and majestic panoramas bolstered up by flawless cinematography.
So, right out-of-the-gate, filmgoers can't help but be emotionally overwhelmed as they're nurtured along the "magic" storytelling trail - and eventually swept up - into the welcoming arms of the film's final climatic moments before the curtain rings down.
Unfortunately, for film buffs - and fans of the celebrated auteur - the Oscar-winning director chose to take a predictable route (formula filmmaking in true Hollywood style) to his detriment in this instant scenario.
Though, visually stunning and vastly entertaining - well crafted, too - "War Horse" ends up missing its cinematic mark in spite of Spielberg's deliberate attempt to seduce the audience into a romantic bygone era where unsung heroes populate a well-travelled terrain.
The tale starts off well, but quickly, gets bogged down in tired old film cliches and a heap load of sentimentality.
There's a thin line between being schmaltzy and heartwarming - and few are capable - of walking that tightrope with ease.
Sadly, this is the case with Mr. Spielberg this time out.
Though, the uncanny ability of God's creatures to survive long-suffering ordeals against all odds may be worthy of note - even ripe on occasion for the subject matter of a top-notch film - the script in this instant case fell short.
"Sea Biscuit" is a far better example of what may be accomplished when the the director (and filmmakers) are properly focused and the intentions are pure.
3 1/2 Stars!