112 Min. | Adventure – Family – Fantasy | February 2008
IMDB Rating: 6.5
Director: Jay Russell
Staring: Emily Watson, David Morrissey, Alex Etel
The Water Horse Review: It is reassuring to see more and more family-oriented films being issued without everyone having to rely on the Disney and Pixar folks to carry all the weight. That said, it would have been interesting to see what Disney might have done with this story. In the end of The Water Horse, it has laughs, thrills, beautiful scenery, and a heartwarming storyline that offers opportunities for family discussion. As with most things, there are good and bad sides to The Water Horse. On the plus side, the acting is above-par by all the actors(the adult male leads look startlingly like a young Liam Neeson and a Gaelic Antonio Banderas), the location footage is gorgeous, the period “feels right”, and the title namesake is very well executed and most believable. Major kudos to the special effects teams, they did a magnificent job.
In The Water Horse, on the downside, the denouement is telegraphed well in advance and comes as no surprise, and there are some unanswered questions and several plot lines end without resolution. The Director, Jay Russell, has helmed other very successful films (including a little-known but personal favorite “End of the Line”) which were also obviously “fiddled with” by studio decree. Such is the business of film-making.
Mix in all this with the father who has been away to war, never to return, and you have a child’s romance with the right balance of love and hate, certainty and uncertainty, illusion and reality. It’s all much less sophisticated than Shrek, and more like Whale Rider, also filmed in New Zealand. In the latter, a girl rides a whale as an embodiment of the country’s hope, in Water Horse, the boy rides the monster to expunge his own fear of water and elude the malignant forces of the adult world. Pretty heady stuff, that. The Water Horse is a worth watch.