War Horse is a tricky film when it comes to analyzing the overall critical consensus. It was nominated for a host of awards, but if we’re honest, it isn’t hard to see that – Spielberg made a movie, it’s about war, here’s a picture – is all you need for that to be an unavoidable result. Critics loved it, especially those who have been around film long enough for it to remind them of the early war films it mirrors with many scenes, but those who didn’t love it, really didn’t love it.
I ultimately had to give it 3.5/5 stars (my War Horse review here), almost exclusively on technical merit, and the odd bit of fun, despite the fact that the film actually kind of pisses me off. Meanwhile, Christopher Lominac put it at number two on his list of the best of the year.
What makes it difficult (though really, you probably know very well whether or not the film is going to work for you), is that many of the critics you might expect to love it, really hate it.
Be that as it may, the movie certainly managed a great deal of popularity, and wherever you may fall on the merits of the film, the home release is a treat for movie fans, with bonuses aimed at those who fancy themselves interested in the inner workings of movie magic.
Beyond the bonuses, the film is tailor-made to show off your Blu-Ray, and if I had to pick a Blu-Ray release of 2012 purely from a technical standpoint, this would probably be it. Not only does the movie give you the panoramic views and gorgeous scenery that so easily translates into amazing Blu-Ray video, but with numerous war and night scenes, it also pulls you into the abilities when it comes to grays and shadow.
The one negative about the bonus features is that they are all aimed a bit more toward movie-making generally, as opposed to really sitting comfortably as a bonus to the film itself.
An interesting featurette takes you on a “journey” with Spielberg, and covers a lot of ground, giving a, more or less, unique view into the overall production and direction of a film, and certainly War Horse is the movie we’re looking at but it feels a bit more Spielberg than War Horse when all is said and done. Not that this is particularly a negative, and not that fans of the film won’t love getting this intense look at the film’s construction, it just has an odd flavor.
Beyond this, the release offers several other featurettes that each explore a certain aspect of the film’s creation. One on editing and scoring will go over well for anyone who is a fan of Williams, and he gives some insight into his process of creating the music that drives film, in this case, and in other Spielberg collaborations. A sound design featurette probably stands out, and will thus be especially interesting to a lot of viewers, just because it aims to give an idea of just what the heck sound design means, and it does a good job of it.
Other featurettes move along similar lines, with one on “The Look” of the film introducing us to the costume designer, and other members of the creative team. This one is a little more along the lines of “standard fare” bonus feature, walking us through the choices made, and how we came to make those choices. Another offers a producer’s look, which gives us a rundown on how the material sparked interest in the first place, and is honestly something of a throwaway inclusion.
Glaringly absent from the release are any bonuses that touch on the story at all, and/or a commentary track. For those that aren’t in love with the film, that stands out as a certain testament to their view. Talk about the story? What would you say?
Overall, this is a solid release, and fine enough entertainment, but the “Over 85 minutes” of bonuses don’t exactly add up to what you might expect when you see that on the cover, and the film itself seems to provide equal ammo to those who love and hate it.
I have to give the release a downgrade, much as I did the film itself, because even if you love the movie, the merits of the release are all technical, and there are probably a lot of things you’re left wishing for.
Legendary Academy Award®-winning motion picture director/producer Steven Spielberg presents the critically acclaimed and multi Academy Award®-nominated epic adventure “War Horse” on Blu-ray™, DVD, Digital and On-Demand, April 3. This newest home entertainment release not only enthralls viewers once again with its visually stunning and emotionally heartwarming story on the Blu-ray, but also offers an unprecedented look into the making of the film by Spielberg himself.
The extraordinary journey of courage and friendship as seen through the eyes of one unforgettable horse named Joey and his miraculous journey to find his way back home, “War Horse” is a must own contemporary classic for everyone’s home entertainment collection. Spielberg’s renowned creative passion and artistry not only shine throughout the film but are also evident in all the fascinating bonus features included exclusively on the Blu-ray disc.
The premium 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack in particular allows viewers to explore the filmmaking process and storytelling adventure though a special 60 minute documentary (named “A Filmmaking Journey”), created by Spielberg, that offers a never-before-seen inside look into the making of “War Horse.”
Additional bonus features include a behind the scenes look at Spielberg’s Award-Winning “Dream Team” – the film’s scoring session with five-time Oscar-winning composer John Williams, the editing room with three-time Academy Award winning film editor Michael Kahn, the sound room with seven time Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom, and a look through Producer Kathleen Kennedy‘s lens as she shares photos she took during the filming and recounts her discovery of “War Horse.”
“War Horse,” which received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, will be available to own and for in-home viewing as follows:
4-Disc Combo Pack (2-Disc Blu-ray + 1 Disc DVD + Digital Copy)
- A Filmmaking Journey – Academy Award®-winning Director/Producer Steven Spielberg provides a unique and unprecedented look into the making and filming of “War Horse.”
- Editing & Scoring – Multi-Oscar® winners Michael Kahn (film editor) and John Williams (composer) discuss specific aspects of editing the film and composing music for “War Horse,” as well as the secret to their long and successful collaborations with Steven Spielberg.
- The Sounds of “War Horse” – Seven-time Academy Award®-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom takes us through the sophisticated sound design he created for “War Horse.”
- Through The Producer’s Lens – Producer Kathleen Kennedy shares the photos she took during filming and recounts how she discovered the source material, as well as her appreciation of Steven Spielberg’s vision, the team that sounds him, and why “War Horse” appealed to her.
- “War Horse”: The Look – Director/Producer Steven Spielberg introduces us to his creative team of production designer Rick Carter, costume designer Joanna Johnston and director of photography JanuszKaminski, who discuss what it took to design the look for the film.
- An Extra’s Point of View – Film extra Martin Dew explains how and why he was brought in––along with a hundred other men––to be featured alternately as both German and British soldiers.
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