War Horse 2011

Critics score:
77 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: It's overlong, painfully earnest and sometimes even hokey. Read more

Kathleen Murphy, MSN Movies: Tonally jarring and structurally disjointed, it's a punishingly long and bumpy ride. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: You may find yourself resisting this sentimental pageant of early-20th-century rural English life, replete with verdant fields, muddy tweeds and damp turnips, but my strong advice is to surrender. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: The year's most potent work -- largely word-free but aching with feeling -- comes from Hollywood's longtime resident genius, Steven Spielberg. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: Amid the incomprehensible slaughter, it's a horse that reminds these warriors of their humanity. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: A film that may stay in the mind's eye longer than it lingers in the heart. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: "War Horse" is meticulously and elegantly constructed, and has a gentle, old-fashioned quality that will appeal to many audience members, but it never jolts or thrills; its characters, moving in that Hollywood glow, never quite catch fire. Read more

Keith Phipps, AV Club: Spielberg exercises stunning control behind the camera, never more than in a late-film sequence that all but erases the distance between the viewers' perspective and Joey's. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: Spielberg all but begs you to cry, and unless you're a heartless cad, you probably will. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: A work of full-throated Hollywood classicism that looks back to the craftsmanship and sentimentality of John Ford and other legends of the studio era. Read more

Amy Nicholson, Boxoffice Magazine: But though War Horse is achingly sentimental, the people who will cry the most are the Washington lawmakers who just legalized selling horse meat in America ten days before War Horse's release. Bad timing, dudes. Read more

Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader: When the army buys the horse and takes it to the French front, Spielberg goes into Lean mode, finding in war the greatest landscapes and crowd shots that money can buy. Read more

Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor: Spielberg by now can do this sort of thing with such facility that he often lets his technical skills override his deepest engagement in the material. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: The scope and craft are dazzling. Read more

Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post: Robustly entertaining. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: The result isn't groundbreaking, but it's gratifying. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: The project is tailor-made for Saving Private Ryan Spielberg, the war-story specialist, as well as for E.T. Spielberg, the chronicler of boyhood desires and yearnings for family. Read more

William Goss, Film.com: It's simply crafted, at times bordering on simplistic, and it doesn't just wear its heart on its sleeve - it wears its heart on its heart. Read more

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter: An atmospheric, tear-jerking, highly cinematic melodrama. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: The incredible emotive power of this horse and the way in which the filmmakers were able to translate it on-screen are what stay with you. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: There isn't a moment in the movie where you don't feel Spielberg's passion, and this time, the film is worthy of his enthusiasm. It's a knockout. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: The material sometimes feels oversugared, though it's also guaranteed to raise a lump in your throat. Read more

David Denby, New Yorker: We never ask why the production is devoted to an animal while ten million men are dying, but when Spielberg does the story realistically, it seems trivial, even a little daft. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: Spielberg's phenomenal skill for making images remains undiminished. The rows in a piece of knitting dissolve into the furrows in a stony field; men's bodies fly through the air like broken dolls. Some images are too fussed over, but every one is striking Read more

Ian Buckwalter, NPR: It's not that a film can't be lighthearted family fare, a gritty war epic and a weepie all at once; the problem is that here, those elements feel strictly compartmentalized -- and calculated. Read more

Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News: The vision we connect with isn't that of a horse or his owner, but a storyteller so fascinated by the best and worst of humanity, he continues to search for a way to reconcile them. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: Those who say they don't make 'em like they used to must now fall silent. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: War Horse is a don't-miss Spielberg classic that reaches true perfection. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: War Horse is sugary, to be sure - but it is sugar cut with cannon fire and barbed wire and the horrors of war. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Call it "lesser Spielberg" and put it alongside Always and Hook. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com: What a gorgeous, breathtaking, epic adventure this is. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: The film is made with superb artistry. Spielberg is the master of an awesome canvas. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: War Horse gets to you. It's one from the heart. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com: It's almost a great war movie in one direction, and almost a piece of irredeemable cheese in the other, and there you have it. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Yes, this is a Steven Spielberg picture. He directed it and, like Blondie in the old song, he's gonna getcha, getcha, getcha, one way or another. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Tthe images have what I can only describe as a wonderful texture. They also have intense color: deep gemlike greens and reds, with black shadows out of an old master painting. Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: The trouble here is not so much that Spielberg's film staunchly insists on finding a happy ending even in the calamity of the First World War, but that he slathers it on so thick and leaves so soft an impression. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: With the exception of a few lovely scenes, it's a hollow and bombastic piece of work, clobbering you over the head with its epic-ness when it's not cinematically yanking at your nosehairs in the hopes that you'll cry. Read more

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: Boldly emotional, nakedly heartfelt, War Horse will leave only the stoniest hearts untouched. Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: Spielberg still manages to surprise and impress. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: If anyone thought Steven Spielberg couldn't top himself for manipulating audience emotions, they didn't reckon with War Horse. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: Sweeping in its style and old-fashioned in its narrative structure, War Horse will likely take its place alongside beloved family films. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: This beautifully composed picture brings a robust physicality to tried-and-true source material, but falls short of the sustained narrative involvement and emotional drive its resolutely old-fashioned storytelling demands. Read more

J. Hoberman, Village Voice: Dialogue is superfluous; in its way, War Horse is as much a "silent movie" as The Artist. Every triumph is pounded into your head and punctuated by a dolly-in close-up. Read more