WATER HORSE, THE: THE LEGEND OF THE DEEP
Angus MacMorrow (Alex Etel) finds an egg in the waters of Scotland's Loch Ness, while gathering shells. It is war time and Angus is pining for the return of his father, who has gone to war, leaving him and his family on a large isolated estate for which his mother Anne (Emily Watson) is housekeeper. The egg hatches into a strange-looking creature which Alex secretly feeds, nurtures and calls Crusoe (after Robinson Crusoe). Captain Hamilton (David Morrissey) and his regiment set up camp at the estate and threaten the welfare of Crusoe, who has grown into a gigantic creature, identified as a mystical water horse by the new, sympathetic handyman Lewis Mowbray (Ben Chaplin).
Review by Louise Keller:
A heart-warming film about a boy and a magic sea creature, The Water Horse captures the wonder of a timeless tale by combining good storytelling with a strong sense of time and place. No monsters were harmed in the making of this film, we are told, and thanks to Weta Workshop the central monster-character is a wondrous creature indeed. But credit must also go to Alex Etel for his portrayal of young Angus MacMorrow, who manages to convince us of his love for the orphaned water-horse whose life he saves. The tranquil Scottish (and New Zealand) settings are gorgeous with their lazy green pastures, stone bridges and lonely cliffs that surround the Loch Ness of the film's tale. The story (adapted from Dick King-Smith's novel) is predictable but nicely told, resulting in a film with a big heart offering an emotionally satisfying journey.
When Angus finds the lichen-covered luminous teal egg, he recalls his absent father's belief that shells containing life are filled with luck. We quickly learn that Angus is missing his soldier father badly and spends much of his time alone in his father's workshop. When the egg hatches to reveal a strange looking lizard-like creature with little horns, web feet and a voracious appetite, Angus finds himself a best friend. But Crusoe (as Angus names him) grows to gigantic proportions in no time, and it soon becomes impossible to keep him hidden. Especially as the stately old home for which his mother Anne (Emily Watson) is housekeeper and the army regiment camped on the grounds are not aware of his presence. There is a funny scene when Crusoe frolics noisily in the bathtub while Angus and his sister Kirstie (Priyanka Xi) try desperately to hide him. Ben Chaplin's handyman Lewis Mowbray becomes an ally, and identifies the now ginormous Crusoe as a mystical water-horse.
The special effects are excellent, and the scenes when Angus clings onto Crusoe's thick giraffe-like neck, as the water-horse leaps and plunges into the Loch, are highlights. Youngsters will enjoy Churchill, the doggedly curious bulldog who provides humorous chase scenes, and the blossoming relationship between Chaplin's Lewis and Watson's Anne is nicely done. Brian Cox is solid as the grown up Angus, who recounts the fable-like story in flashback. It's a delightful family film that explores the relationship between a boy and his father, as well as the unforgettable friendship that changes his life.
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WATER HORSE, THE: THE LEGEND OF THE DEEP (PG)
CAST: Brian Cox, Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, David Morrissey, Craig Hall, Joel Tobeck, Alex Etel, Marshall Napier, Geraldine Brophy, Priyanka Xi
PRODUCER: Barrie M. Osborne, Charlie Lyons, Douglas Rae,
DIRECTOR: Jay Russell
SCRIPT: Robert Nelson Jacobs (novel by Dick King-Smith)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Oliver Stapleton
EDITOR: Mark Warner
MUSIC: James Newton Howard
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 10, 2008