Director: Jay Russell
Cast: Emily Watson, Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin,
David Morrissey, Brian Cox
RunTime: 1 hr 51 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Official Website: http://www.thewaterhorse.com
Opening Day: 6 March 2008
REVIEW OF "THE WATER HORSE: LEGEND OF THE DEEP"
The Academy Award®-winning producer and special-effects
team behind "The Lord of the Rings" join with Revolution
Studios, Walden Media ("The Chronicles of Narnia")
and Beacon Pictures to bring to the screen the magical motion
picture "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep." The
story begins when Angus, a young Scottish boy, finds an enchanted
egg. Taking it home, he soon finds himself face-to-face with
an amazing creature: the mythical "water horse"
of Scottish lore. Angus begins a journey of discovery, facing
his greatest fears and risking his life to protect a secret
that would give birth to a legend.
Maybe I haven’t been the most objective reviewer around
here, but I wasn’t exactly the most thrilled person
when I had to sit through this 111-minute family movie. The
wholesome British picture is about a kid and his adventures
with a water creature that looks like a horse. The titular
water horse has flippers, looks annoyingly cute, and most
importantly, makes for a pet that every lonely 12-year-old
wants to own. But my initial reluctance to like this movie
(no thanks to the team that brought you the creatures in The
Chronicles of Narnia) became an enjoyably pleasant surprise
as the credits rolled.
Russell (Ladder 49, Tuck Everlasting) perfectly casts the
adorable Alex Etel (Millions) as Angus MacMarrow, a young
boy who discovers an egg which hatches into the mythical water
horse of Loch Ness. As the creature grows bigger and the political
unrest around him grows stronger, the secret becomes almost
impossible to keep. Joining the endearing Etel are reliable
actors like Emily Watson (Red Dragon, Miss Potter) as his
mother, Ben Chaplin (The Touch, Stage Beauty) as the house’s
friendly handyman and Brian Cox (X2, Troy) as the old Angus.
already know how this movie is going to unfold: An old Angus
tells the story in flashback manner to nosey tourists in a
country bar. He reminisces the good ol’ times with his
pet before it got too big to hide in his bathtub. He releases
the creature into the open sea and before he knows it, he
is forced to separate with his companion forever. Based on
Dick King-Smith’s (Babe) novel, this story set in Scotland
during the World War II period is told with heart, which makes
it a winner despite its formulaic plot.
nice little touches of fatherhood and companionship are subtly
put in place by screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs (Dinosaur,
Chocolat), which makes this a treat for the young ones (the
young boy beside me was cheering every moment the water horse
outwitted from the baddies, and crouching in fear whenever
it faced dire danger). The capable casting also helps lifts
the film into a charming picture. Etel is sweet without being
irritating, while Watson and Chaplin are extremely comfortable
in their roles.
wonderfully computer-generated creature is another reason
why this predictable flick makes for enjoyable viewing. Unlike
the dull creatures created in The Chronicles of Narnia, this
water horse is a joy to watch, with its animated facial expressions
(when it was still small-sized) and thunderous bellows (after
it has grown enormous) nicely contrasting each other. Other
captivating aspects of the movie include Oliver Stapleton’s
(Ned Kelly, Casanova) breathtaking cinematography of the Scotland
plains and James Newton Howard’s (Lady in the Water,
Michael Clayton) ethnically pleasing bagpipe score.
above are not the only ingredients to this warm fantasy movie.
At its core, it is the good storytelling will win your heart
over. And just for a while, it’d be good if you leave
all those cynicism at the back of your mind to enjoy this
finely-made family movie.
quality family picture that will appeal and charm adults and
Review by John Li