A whimsical, light hearted children’s fantasy, Water Horse isn’t particularly original. What it is is a fine piece of storytelling, aided by wonderful visual effects that are spot on throughout. Water Horse is a fine piece of family entertainment.
While never actually stated, the audience is led to believe this is the story of Loch Ness. It’s alluded to and pieces of its history are evident, but never is the direct correlation made. Instead, young Angus MacMorrow discovers an egg which happens to contain the title creature.
Of course, the critter is adorable. His playful demeanor and rambunctious play lead to fun on-screen antics. The young Water Horse (Water Pony?) has an insatiable appetite, munching on whatever scraps are tossed his way. This spurs his growth into a full-sized creature rapidly, leading to increasingly problematic means of keeping him hidden.
There’s more to Water Horse than just a playful creature. Angus is a troubled child, devoid of a father figure. While the story of his father may seem heavy-handed at times and sags the story, it’s important for the ending as well as development of other characters.
While the storyline may follow a predictable path and offer few surprises, the film’s imagery more than makes up for it. Shots of the loch (if it is the fabled loch) are beautiful. Scenes set against a backdrop of a sunset are unforgettable.
Water Horse doesn’t skimp on action either. The finale is exciting with the right amount of dramatic content. The sense of peril isn’t enough to scare off the younger set, but still leaves enough tension to make the sequence exciting. A chase through the house before the Water Horse is full grown is also enjoyable and well-put together.
It’s hard to find fault in this film. Other than its predictable narrative and somewhat familiar concept (E.T. for one), this is a wonderful movie with more to offer than a simple “boy finds critter” plot. This is family entertainment at its best.
With a sharp, crisp image, Water Horse just misses the perfection mark in terms of its transfer. Detail is remarkable at times, showcasing every blade of grass on the landscape and every stitch on clothing. Color takes a natural tone without being overblown. Black levels create gorgeous depth. Sadly, the whites run hot, bleaching out many outdoor scenes to the point where some people look almost ghost-like.
Audio is surprisingly robust. Its use of positional audio is flawless. The young Water Horse moves through the sound field clumsily, adding incredible atmosphere. Positional dialogue and various examples of separation are evident constantly in the front channels. While bass is reserved for the final few scenes, the cannons provide a heavy punch when fired.
Eight deleted scenes begin the extras without much to discuss. Adding them in would have pushed this over the two hour mark which is far too long for a movie of this type. Six featurettes are actually one documentary which runs 76 minutes. This covers everything, from the special effects, to human characters, to the legend itself. Finally, a Blu-ray exclusive Virtual Crusoe, a rather weak virtual pet simulator.