War Horse Directed by: Steven Spielberg Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson Rating: Not Yet Rated Release Date: December 25, 2011
TRAILER SCORE: 8/10
Thoughts by TSR: Steven Spielberg hasn’t directed a film since 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but he’s been an executive producer on a number of projects – including TV’s “Terra Nova” and J.J. Abrams’ Super 8. Luckily for us he’s back in a big way this December with not one, but two films set for release. Of the two films, which are releasing within days of one another, The Adventures of Tintin is the one I’m more excited about. Still, Spielberg’s epic adventure War Horse looks very good – if a bit melodramatic – in its own right.
Even though the film boasts an excellent cast, the trailer doesn't really focus on the performances. That said, there are a couple things I want to highlight. The first is Niels Arestrup. He was so menacing in A Prophet, but here he gets a few lines that seem to show a softer side. The other is Benedict Cumberbatch, who really sells the “Be brave!” line that closes the trailer. Beyond that, Jeremy Irvine looks fine as the young man who tames the horse. I wouldn’t have complained if there was a bit more Emily Watson, David Thewlis, and Tom Hiddleston, but it makes sense the trailer’s focus is elsewhere.
That’s because the real stars of this trailer are the crafts – particularly Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography and the score by John Williams. Hopefully the score doesn’t get too overbearing, but the theme playing in the trailer sounds beautiful. Even more impressive is the stunning photography by regular Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kaminski. Nearly every one of the trailer’s shots could be framed (or used in a FYC ad), but there are two in particular that have stuck with me. The first is the reflection in the close-up of the horse’s eye. The other is the tracking shot where we follow the horse mid-battle. 2011 has been a great year for cinematography. I’m firmly in the Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life) camp, but this trailer makes a great case for Kaminski being right up there with him.
It may be a bit schmaltzy, but Spielberg films often enter that territory. Here’s hoping War Horse proves to be the beautiful film (both visually and narratively) this trailer sells. If it is, then this is a journey I’ll be more than happy to take.