Review: The Water Horse – Water Horse: The Legend of the Deep (2007)

The Water Horse – Water Horse: The Legend of the Deep (2007)

Directed by: Jay Russell | 113 minutes | adventure, family, fantasy | Actors: Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin, Emily Watson, Brian Cox, Priyanka Xi, David Morrissey, Bruce Allpress, Eddie Campbell, Peter Corrigan, Carl Dixon, Craig Hall, Ian Harcourt, Rex Hurst, Bill Johnson, Lorraine McDonald, Marshall Napier, Edward Newborn, Louis Owen Collins, William Russell, Erroll Shand, Joel Tobeck, Ben van Lier

‘The Water Horse’ is a tender film based on the beautiful book by Dick King-Smith – known for the now classic family film ‘Babe’. Despite the fairly small budget, the makers have tried to make a nice spectacle of it. In terms of actors, talent has been chosen, and not famous names, which has its pros and cons. Although ‘The Water Horse’ is of course a fantasy story, it shows more similarities with a film like ‘Free Willy’ than with, for example, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ – a film also set in Great Britain during the Second World War. In other words: ‘The Water Horse’ is – apart from the monster – a pretty realistic (seeming) film.

The Second World War playing in the background adds something to the story, without making it unnecessarily heavy. It is somewhat unfortunate that a large part of the film has been shot in New Zealand instead of Scotland. For example, many scenes in Loch Ness were actually shot in Lake Whakatipu, New Zealand. Even though the environment looks beautiful, for the fans it probably does something that the majority of it was not shot in the original location. The actors keep their heads above water and especially the young Angus, played by Alex Etel, is doing well. Emily Watson also put in a top performance, although she will still not have broken through with the general public after this film. Too bad, because she deserves it.

While everyone is doing their best to make the most of the film, the plot drops the necessary stitches. The story is predictable – sometimes to the point of irritating – and shows little surprising. For example, the CGI of the monster is very nice, but no reason to keep it coming up every time. For a film aimed at children, it starts a bit late and slowly ripples along, only to get really exciting towards the end. All in all, ‘The Water Horse’ is very nicely done – especially considering the somewhat low budget. Had the writers tried just as much as the actors, the story would have turned out much better than it does now. Then ‘Babe’ has succeeded many times better.

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