War Horse Blu-Ray Review

Listen To The After The Show Podcast Review Here.
The Movie: 9/10
I cry. It’s just part of being human. I am not an animal lover. This is part of me being human. That being said, this movie pulled tears of me from places I didn’t know existed, tears that were all about the relationship between an animal and a person who cares for them. It’s very enlightening. I’m not motivated to go get myself a horse, or a dog, or a cat, or something else alive that I need to be responsible for feeding and whatnot. What I am motivated to do is take a deep breath and a moment to reflect more respectfully when someone falls apart when their “pet” or loved animal is doing something cute, charming, or sadly is no longer with them. I have never been very compassionate about the whole “oh our animal is part of the family” concept. War Horse has a different, more intense kind of presentation of the respect and care that a person can feel for a creature as majestic as a horse. Now I sound hokey, oh well.

A teenage boy sees a horse give birth to a wobbly little being. Later that wobbly colt grows up just a little bit and then is sold away from his mother, to the boy’s father. The heart of the story is that the horse is not cut out for “hard work”. Can he prove everyone wrong? Hmmm sounds like a Disney themed flick, but Spielberg handles it with a kind of movie glow that takes away the innocence, keeps the heartstring-tugging, and balances sadness with elation with that movie magic touch he always lends to his projects. I cried.

We are horrible beasts, humans. We take what we want from nature for our own uses, way way way beyond our need to survive and plunge our species into a darkness that this story reminded me of about every minute or two. Then again, we have the capacity for greatness, or at least a capacity to do the right thing, also highlighted in the tale of Joey, the war horse. Animals are not disposable. They are not part of this world as a toy, a tool, food, or entertainment for us just because we have the desire and ability to force them into those roles. That’s just the truth. Don’t throw religion in my face and try to justify the abuse and consumption of other species by the word of any bible or book. Animals think and feel and live just like we do….War Horse didn’t make me see the light on this subject. It simply strips away all the bullshit we try to use to justify our action, shows the good, the bad, the ugly of it all and in the end left me thinking even more about it with a more philosophical and ethical twist. As much philosophical and ethical thinking as I can muster:)

Don’t worry, it’s not preachy or pushy or demanding of your brain if you don’t want to think about these issues. It’s a boy, a horse, a war, life, death, joy, pain, determination, suffering, triumph, and loss, all mixed together with enough crowd pleasing ingredients to entertain you on the surface while the under tones are there to contemplate if you choose to do so.

It will bother animal rights folks, and I totally understand why. Animals shouldn’t have to perform for movies for humans to be entertained by, however, if not for the fantastic presence of these true live horses versus CGI animals, the power of the story would be lost. There are moments when CGI were used, of course, because no horses were harmed in real live, but in the story there are tragic moments when using the beauty of computer generated images comes into play amazingly and perfectly.

I loved it. I cried. Did I mention that already? It’s not sadness that made me cry, it was beauty and a kind of truth about what we should all want to be in this world, but as a group probably never will be. That’s not sad, it’s just a harsh reality and it’s not something to take lightly, so I cried.

Features: 10/10

  • War Horse: The Journey Home – A 20 minute roundtable discussion with Director Stephen Spielberg, the cast and the creative team.
  • An Extra point Of View – We take a look at a typical day in the shoes of an extra on set, what’s unique here is Martin D Dew spent every day onset as various solders on both sides of the war.
  • A Filmmaking Journey – An hour long documentary covering all aspects of the movie making process, Spielberg fans will love this as it highlights the directors time on the set.
  • Editing & Scoring – John Williams & Michael Kahn talk about there ongoing work with Stephen Spielberg and there work on War Horse.
  • The Sounds Of War Horse – A small feature on the sounds (not music) of the film.
  • Through The Producers Lens – Producer Kathleen Kennedy is not only a producer she is a photographer. This featurette shows some of her still work on set.
  • War Horse: The Look – Stephen Spielberg explains the painterly look of the movie, which is very unique.
  • DVD & Digital Copy

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover is, well, kind of boring. It’s appropriate and kind of regal and I get it, it’s serious. The thing is, it’s got too much “War Novel” look about it and doesn’t display the heart and soul that’s in the story. I wouldn’t have this as a poster, not just because it’s boring to me, but I’m not a horse ohhh and awweee kind of gal. The menu is themed, basic, and really doesn’t do much for me either. Therefore, the packaging does not do justice to this movie…..point blank period.

Audio & Video: 9/10
Disney always get transfers right and War Horse is a true thoroughbred on Blu-Ray. Spielberg chose a real old timey look for the movie and the colours come across as technicolor at times. There are no signs of compression or artifacting. This is mainly down to the fact that Disney chose to put the movie on it’s own separate disc so the bandwidth is maximized. Horses are the stars of this movie and if you are a horse lover you are in for a treat. Every mane and eyelash are rendered in amazing detail in every frame that the horses are in.

The DTS-HD Master Audio track showcases John William’s masterful score which at times puts you on the edge of your seat and at others brings tears to your eyes. Special mention should be made to the battle sequences which in my opinion rival the sequences Spielberg filmed for Saving Private Ryan. The loud explosions and cannon fire can be heard from every corner of the room. This is impressive stuff but did we expect anything less from a Spielberg and Williams collaboration.

Value: 9/10
I’m not saying the value is great if you buy the blu-ray. I am kind of at a stalemate when it comes to buying movies on some kind of hard wired media. If you rent this, redbox it, download it even from your favorite online service the value is there. You will get your money’s worth many times over. If you feel you then need to own it and have it at your beck and call, by all means spend the extra cash to buy the disc. My husband will say that it MUST be in hi-def Blu-Ray or the beauty will be lost. I disagree. The beauty of the story is there no matter what and those horses will be amazing no matter what format you watch them on.

Overall Score 9/10