by Alan Mowbray
As a movie buff, there are certain films that I consider traditional, yearly family must-sees—age and maturity permitting: Easter (The Passion of The Christ); Christmas (The Nativity Story,The Polar Express, Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story); Memorial Day (Glory and North and South); and Veterans Day (Tora! Tora! Tora!, Saving Private Ryan and now I'm adding War Horse to the list).
Based on the Tony award-winning Broadway play and set against the sweeping canvas of World War I, War Horse tells the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and his young trainer, Albert (Jeremy Irvine). When they're forced apart by war, we follow Joey's extraordinary journey as he changes and inspires the lives of everyone he meets.
Some would say it's a formula movie designed to hold your heart for two-plus hours using every sort of cliche imaginable. Yeah, maybe ... fine. But it's also an fantastic story directed by the master Steven Spielberg and paired with a terrific score by another master himself, John Williams. I say it's a masterpiece that you get to watch with your kids.
This movie is a gift basket loaded with life lessons. Better yet, a moving van full. If you've ever needed a movie that portrays the "never give up" attitude, War Horse is your answer. If you've ever needed a movie that tastefully (as possible) shows the ugly, awful, real price of war, War Horse is your answer. If you ever needed a movie that can explain the mysterious connection that occurs between a man and his horse, War Horse is your answer. If you've ever needed a movie that portrays a good woman standing by her man through thick and thin and thinner, War Horse is your answer. Lessons about cruelty, self-sacrifice, honor and heroism? War Horse. I could go on and on about this tale of incredible loyalty, hope and tenacity.
Garnering six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, War Horse will connect with you in ways that only great movies do. It made me proud, sad, angered, happy, ashamed, disturbed, amazed and lifted up—all in 146 minutes. This is a must-see inspirational family film.
The premium 4-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack's bonus features include a special 60-minute documentary (A Filmmaking Journey) created by Spielberg, which offers an inside look into the making of War Horse. Click here to view bonus clips on the casting of Albert and here on horse safety.
Content Watch: War Horse is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence, suspense, danger, and intense battle sequences, including physical harm to animals. There are three instances of light profanity. The main character's father (a veteran from the war in Africa) is drinking from a flask in about every scene he's in.
Alan Mowbray is a husband, father of two children and technical writer for an Orlando, Fla., area software company. Visit his blog by clicking here.