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War Horse

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • War Horse, a sentimental Spielberg film, thrives on Blu-ray with superb audiovisuals and features.

    War Horse Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • War Horse's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer brilliantly showcases Janusz Kaminski's cinematography with vivid colors, deep blacks, consistent contrast, and impressive detail, from lush landscapes to refined debris and detailed horses, free from significant artifacts or noise.

  • Audio
  • Disney's DTS-HD 7.1 audio delivers a masterful soundscape with clear dialogue, immersive effects, and John Williams' score, making it one of the year's best mixes.

  • Extra
  • In the War Horse special features, Spielberg and team offer in-depth looks into the film's creation, cast insights, technical craftsmanship, and profound themes, from authentic sound design to poignant production tales.

  • Movie
  • The 2011 Oscars nominations ignited debate over the value of expanding the Best Picture category, highlighting a mix of deserving and contentious picks, with Spielberg's 'War Horse' offering a nostalgic yet polarizing cinematic experience.

    Video: 64

    War Horse" gallops onto Blu-ray with a visually sumptuous 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation that showcases the stunning scope of Janusz Kaminski's cinematography in all its glory. The palette transitions smoothly from the rich, vibrant greens of Devon to the grim, muted tones of the battlegrounds, maintaining a filmic integrity and a consistent contrast throughout. Black levels are notably profound, contributing to an image rich in depth, without falling victim to shadow detail loss or presenting any noticeable crush. However, there are minor instances of slight edge enhancement and a touch of inherent softness that occasionally detract from the overall clarity, but these are far from deal-breakers.

    Detail rendition in this transfer is nothing short of impressive, capturing the finest textures in both the sweeping landscapes and the intimate close-ups with equal finesse. Whether it's the rough texture of a horse's coat or the intricate patterns of mud splatter across a soldier’s uniform, the image resolution leaves little to the imagination. Despite a few negligible flaws, such as sporadic ringing, the digital clean-up has been handled with care, avoiding any egregious issues like significant artifacting, banding, or unwelcome noise.

    This high-definition presentation of "War Horse" vividly brings to life the emotional gravitas and the scenic beauty of Spielberg's film. The horses, with their detailed manes and battle scars, truly stand out, benefiting from an image quality that respects Kaminski's original vision. While not entirely devoid of minor technical imperfections, these do not substantially detract from what is an exceptionally crafted video transfer. The Blu-ray not only does justice to this poignant story but also serves as a testament to the film's underappreciated cinematography, making it a must-own for both cinephiles and casual viewers alike.

    Audio: 69

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track accompanying Disney's "War Horse" Blu-Ray is a spectacular feat of auditory brilliance, underscored by Gary Rydstrom's exceptional sound design and embellished with the emotional depth of John Williams' iconic score. This audio presentation excels in delivering a vivid and fully immersive soundscape that pulls the audience directly into the heart of the story, from the tranquility of pastoral life to the tumultuous throes of war. Technical prowess shines through in the clarity and intelligibility of dialogue, ensuring that every word is heard, whether whispered in moments of calm or shouted across the chaos of battle. The meticulous attention to detail further enriches the experience, with horse vocalizations not merely confined to a single channel but dynamically interacting across the soundfield, adding layers of narrative depth and emotional resonance.

    The immersive qualities of this audio track are enhanced by an astute use of the rear speakers, which envelop the listener in a 360-degree auditory experience. Sounds of war, nature, and human presence fill the environment, creating a convincing illusion of being situated within the film’s locales. Precise directionality and smooth cross-channel pans contribute to an engaging audio experience that complements the visual storytelling. LFE channels are judiciously employed, adding substantial impact to scenes involving machinery of war and battlefield tumult without overwhelming the subtler elements of the soundtrack.

    In sum, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track on "War Horse" stands out as a paragon of home theater audio excellence. Through its adept reproduction of dialogue, nuanced sound design, and compelling use of the soundstage, it not only supports but elevates the cinematic narrative. The technical finesse in blending ambient war sounds with character-driven moments ensures that the audio experience is as moving and profound as the film’s visual delivery.

    Extra: 54

    The extra presentation of the "War Horse" Blu-ray provides an encompassing behind-the-scenes look into the creation and production of the film. Starting with "War Horse: The Journey Home," viewers are treated to insightful roundtable discussions led by Steven Spielberg, which while brief, offer a compact yet rich perspective on the movie's development from both the cast and crew's points of view. "An Extra's Point of View" and "Through the Producer's Lens" give unique, seldom-seen angles of the filmmaking process, highlighting the contributions of an extra and personal snapshots from the producer, respectively. The more extensive "A Filmmaking Journey" featurette satisfies a deeper craving for knowledge on the film's backstory and production details. Meanwhile, "Editing & Scoring," and "The Sounds of War Horse" delve into the technical expertise behind the film's post-production, showcasing the meticulous work in editing, scoring, and sound design that elevated the cinematic experience.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • War Horse: The Journey Home: Director Steven Spielberg hosts roundtable discussions with the film’s cast and crew.
    • An Extra's Point of View: Insight into Martin D. Dew's experiences as an extra on set.
    • A Filmmaking Journey: An in-depth exploration of the film’s creation, from its historical basis to its cinematic realization.
    • Editing & Scoring: Insights into the collaboration between editor Michael Kahn, composer John Williams, and Steven Spielberg.
    • The Sounds of War Horse: A look at the film’s sound design with sound designer Gary Rydstrom.
    • Through the Producer's Lens: Producer Kathleen Kennedy shares personal photographs from the location.

    Movie: 54

    War Horse," Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's 1982 children's novel, attempts to traverse the harrowing landscapes of World War I through the eyes of Joey, a remarkable thoroughbred whose journey is fraught with the perils of war. Across the battlefields littered with the technological advancements that rendered cavalry charges obsolete, Joey's saga unfolds, drawing Spielberg into familiar territory that contrasts sharply with the human devastation of the era. As Joey moves from the British countryside into the heart of conflict and despair, his encounters—with both friend and foe—seek to highlight the indiscriminate nature of war's reach. It's a tale that, while ambitious in its scope and emotive in its portrayal of cross-species loyalty, often succumbs to the weight of its own sentimentality, underpinned by performances that oscillate between moving and melodramatic.

    Spielberg's long-standing collaborator, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, paints each frame with an exquisite palette that beautifully captures the essence of WWI, from the sun-drenched farms of Devon to the grim trenches and war-torn landscapes that defined one of history's bloodiest conflicts. However, within this meticulously crafted vista lie performances that, despite their earnestness, sometimes feel compelled towards theatricality rather than emerging organically from the narrative's demands. This portrayal extends to Joey and his equine counterparts who, arguably, deliver some of the film's most compelling moments, notwithstanding a script that occasionally veers into the realm of anthropomorphic fantasy at odds with its historical backdrop.

    "War Horse" thus emerges as a polarizing narrative—its grand visual storytelling at times undercut by a penchant for overt sentimentality that muddles its historical authenticity. Spielberg’s endeavor to capture the shared humanity amidst the cacophony of WWI through a horse’s journey does achieve moments of visual and emotional brilliance but is paradoxically challenged by an execution that leans heavily into nostalgia and melodrama. The film simultaneously revels in the cinematic traditions of yesteryear while wrestling with its place in modern cinematic discourse—a testament to Spielberg's ambition but also a reflection of the inherent challenges in adapting Morpurgo’s novel for the screen.

    Total: 59

    War Horse," a film that arguably divides modern audiences with its emotional depth and Steven Spielberg's distinctive filmmaking style, has found a solid and unifying ground in its Blu-ray presentation. Disney's release excels in offering a visually stunning experience, coupled with an immersive DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround sound track that promises to elevate the viewing experience. The technical prowess displayed in the video and audio quality undoubtedly complements the film's cinematic ambition, ensuring that both enthusiasts of Spielberg's sentimental journey and newcomers alike are treated to a superior home theater experience.

    Adding to the allure of this Blu-ray edition is the curated selection of high-quality special features. These bonus materials not only provide a deeper understanding of the film's production but also enrich the viewer's appreciation for the craft behind "War Horse." The inclusion of these features demonstrates a commitment to preserving the artistic integrity and visionary approach of Spielberg's work, further solidifying this release as a comprehensive package for both aficionados and casual viewers. The meticulous attention to audiovisual details and the enriching supplemental content make this Blu-ray a standout among home releases.

    In conclusion, the Blu-ray release of "War Horse" transcends the usual expectations of home entertainment, presenting a well-rounded collection that is as technically impressive as it is emotionally captivating. Despite the film's potentially polarizing effect on audiences due to its storytelling style, this edition unifies through quality and attention to detail. It serves not only as a testament to Spielberg's evocative narrative but also as a beacon of excellence in home media presentation, ensuring "War Horse" will be remembered and appreciated for years to come.