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post #1 of 13 Old 04-04-12, 08:41 PM Thread Starter
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War Horse - Blu-ray Review

Title: War Horse
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Lee Hall, Richard Curtis, Michael Morpugo
Studio: Dreamworks
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 146 Minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: April 3, 2012


Movie:
Video:
Audio:
Extras:

HTS Overall Score:83



Summary:

In 1914, Albert Narracott (Levine) is a boy who witnesses a birth of a thoroughbred horse in his town and is immediately enamored by the young horse. As the horse grows up Albert follows the horse trying to win its favor. One particular day the thoroughbred is taken to the town center to be sold at auction; however, a thoroughbred is of little use in this town due to its size and particular use as most people are looking for large, strong working horses. Despite the relatively small size, Albert’s father Ted (Mullan), a lowly farmer, is drawn to bid for this horse. Unfortunately for him, he finds himself in a bidding competition against his landlord, Lyons (Thewlis). As the two bid raise one another’s bid the auction finally is won by Ted at an outrageous price of thirty guineas. As the horse is brought to the Narracott home, Ted explains himself to his wife, Rose (Watson), that he bought the horse and that he had to use his rent money to pay for the horse. As Ted and Rose dispute between one another about the horse, Albert sees the horse and convinces his parents to let him take care of the horse, raise it, and break him in.

Albert lovingly cares for the horse, which he names Joey, does just what he promised and breaks Joey in. This is still not enough to cover the rent owed by the family to Lyons and Ted promises Lyons that he will use the horse to plow his field in order to plant crops and use the money earned to pay back his debt. Fully expecting that this horse will fail to do the task, Lyons agrees to Ted’s promise. Albert takes it upon himself to train the horse and get the horse prepped to plow the field and. As he begins the plowing task, the entire town comes to see and support Albert and Joey as they begin the task. Against all odds, Albert and Joey arduously complete the task of plowing the field and Ted plants the fields. After all seems to be going the Narracott’s way Mother Nature rains (literally) on their parade and ruin the crops that have flourished. This forces Ted to sell Joey in town to an army captain. Albert runs and tries to stop his father from selling it, but the sale is already done. As Joey gets taken by his new owner, Albert makes a promise to Joey that someday they will be reunited once again.

‘War Horse’ is based on the novel written by Michael Morpugo that follows Joey as he is taken to war. We follow this thoroughbred’s heroic story as he triumphantly survives against all odds. Generally I liked this film, but I did have a few problems with it. I thought the story took too long to get going. I found myself somewhat bored for the first hour or so of the film. Once the actual war began to happen, it really picked up and I enjoyed it immensely more. I am on the fence about this one still because I didn’t feel engaged in the characters all that much, but I still did find myself entertained over the majority of the film.


Rating:

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence


Video:

The video transfer for the 'War Horse' blu-ray is generally very solid, however it didn't impress me as much as I was hoping. The panoramic sequences generally look exceptionally good and close ups have lots of detail, but overall there was a lack of dimensionality in the transfer overall. Contrast was quite good, but there were just one or two instances where it just seemed a tad muted. Black levels, again were good, but there was one particular scene where blacks seemed a bit elevated, washing out the indoor sequence. Film grain is present in the proper amount; it is not overbearing or distracting in the slightest. Overall, it is a very satisfactory video transfer with a couple of small instances of fault briefly causing the picture to appear flat.

Audio:

Where the video presentation falters the audio mix makes up in spades. Despite the slow start of the film, the surround activity is very active. Naturalistic ambience surrounds the audience from the get-go and the orchestral score really envelops. Weather moments, such as hard rainfall or distant thunder rolling sound wonderful. In addition to the spatial sound design, the low frequency activity is nearly off the charts. When thunder strikes it kicks the listener in the pants. As the film moves onto the war portion, the sound design elevates even more. Sound of gunfire whizzing by entrench the audience in the middle of the war. As tanks roll around or heavy artillery explodes it really shake the foundations. The audio presentation really is inspiring, unfortunately I found it a bit more inspiring than the movie itself.


Extras:

• ''War Horse': A Journey Home' Featurette
• 'An Extra's Point of View' Featurette
• 'A Filmmaker's Journey' Featurette
• 'Editing and Scoring' Featurette
• 'The Sounds of 'War Horse'' Featurette
• 'Through the Producer's Lens' Featurette



Overall:

'War Horse' is an interesting story told in an epic fashion that didn't quite live up to my expectations. The film was still enjoyable, however it felt a little bit too slow to start. Once the film transitioned into the war the film got much better for me. The video presentation is pretty solid, but it misses the mark of perfection. The audio transfer, however, actually surprised me most about this disc and made the watching the film well worth it. I was floored and even startled on occasion at the LFE activity. There are definitely scenes that I would consider using as demo material. I'm sure others will find the overall story more engaging than I did and with the fantastic audio this film still easily gets my approval to check out.


Recommendation: Check It Out!



Official Blu-Ray Reviews Scoring

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #2 of 13 Old 04-05-12, 11:42 AM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

good review Jon, I agree that it took some time to get going and get interesting which drags it a tad lower than I'd like, but still an enjoyable flick
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post #3 of 13 Old 04-05-12, 12:22 PM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review, Jon Liu!

I've been back and forth trying to decide on this one, and your review has helped me with that decision. I'm going to hold off on buying it and maybe watch catch it on TV at some point if I get an urge to see it.

oz
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post #4 of 13 Old 04-05-12, 03:48 PM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

Wow I hate to dissagree. But just my .02 My wife and I thought this was an amazing movie. The story, the Video quality was nothing short of stunning. and the sound amazing. As far as the beginning being slow we though the time it took to set up the story line and the relationship of the young man and his family and of coourse Joey the horse was very good. The spectacular video of the countryside wase awesome. The rest of the movie really was as a professional reviewer put it a series of short stories not about a horse but about the people he met along the way and the terrable losses they suffered during war. The duller or colorless scenes were intentional expressing the atmosphere of where the story was taking place. I have been staying away from some recent purchases lately as I get tired a explosions and flybys etc without a good story. This is a film definatelly of the old school. You have to pay attention and listen to the dialog. Just my .02 I am vey glad I purchased this one.
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post #5 of 13 Old 04-05-12, 04:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

Bob, it's perfectly fine to disagree. I felt the story was just a little too long to get going. I don't mind character development, but I think the family relationship/dynamic was established pretty quickly, but it kind of dragged on. Again, I did enjoy this film, just thought the beginning portion was dragged out. I agree with the other small stories intertwined throughout the rest of the film were great. The war was just the turning point, it wasn't the only thing that entertained me about this film.

As far as the video is concerned, the majority was very good, there were just a couple instances that didn't quite match the rest of the film.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
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post #6 of 13 Old 04-05-12, 06:02 PM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

John:

thanks for responding Just a bit old fashioned here movies like this do not come along very often. One other thing without a spoiler the last battle scene was almost as amazing and intense as the one at the beginning of private ryan. By the way I do enjoy the reviews very much.
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post #7 of 13 Old 04-05-12, 06:12 PM
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I keep passing on this one but I may have to check it out.
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post #8 of 13 Old 04-06-12, 09:34 PM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the review Jon!

I was torn on this one on whether to see it at the theater or not (as soon as my HT is done I won't have that to worry about anymore!) and I ended up not going. This one is definitely on my list to check out!
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-10-12, 12:56 PM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

War Horse is a well made movie with beautiful cinematography, well written story and great sound. The only problem is that it’s very slow paced and sappy. The plus side is that the WAF factor is very high so while you may nod off during the slow parts you will be pleasantly awakened during the fun scenes.
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post #10 of 13 Old 04-10-12, 08:40 PM
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Re: War Horse - Blu-ray Review

My wife really wanted to see it in the theater but we never made it. I decided I think the rewatchablity might be low so I added it to my Netflix queue. Thanks for the review Jon!
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