When a lonely young boy named Angus discovers a large, mysterious egg along the shores of Loch Ness, no one is prepared for what lies within. He soon discovers that the strange, mischievous hatchling inside is none other than The Water Horse, the loch's most mysterious and fabled creature! But with the Water Horse growing ten times its size every day, Angus finds it increasingly difficult to keep his new friend a secret.
I love this film. I believe I've watched it about four times, all told, and I still haven't gotten sick of it (a rare occurrence, to be sure - I usually cave in after about three viewings one after another). The fourth time was just a couple of days ago, and I thought it was high time I reviewed it. The little description on Netflix made me think, at first, that it was set in modern times in America (just an impression I got, there was really no basis for the idea) but Water Horse is actually set in WWII, in Scotland (eeep! Although they actually filmed it in New Zealand - I feel a bit ripped off). I've discovered an obsessive liking for WWI and WWII films, when they're more about human stories than just battles and fighting, so that was one of the biggest reasons for my love of this movie. My entire family really enjoys it, as well (another rare occurrence) and we quote/talk about it quite a bit, which is fun.
One thing that really stands out in Water Horse is the computer imagery. Crusoe (the Water Horse - Angus named him after Robinson Crusoe) is entirely CGI, but he looks incredibly real (besides being over twenty feet tall and having the body of no animal I've ever seen). It's really amazing imagery. I read somewhere that they combined the face of a dog, horse, eagle, and a couple of other animals to make Crusoe's face familiar, and yet not familiar. I think it worked well.
The characters are another thing that is truly great about this film. I love good characters, and Water Horse has really awesome ones. Let's see...well, for starters, there's Angus. Period drama fans will probably recognize him as Harry from Cranford/Return To Cranford. He does an excellent job and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his character (except for a couple of typical Cliched Irritating Kid Film Moments). Angus' mom, Ann (played by Emily Watson - she also played Albert's mom in War Horse), was one of my favorite characters. Then, there's Captain Hamilton. The first time I watched the movie, I thought he was a good character (for the first half, at least) but he's something of a jerk. I wouldn't go so far as to call him the villain, but he's sort of like that [edit: just realized that Hamilton is played by David Morrisey (Colonel Brandon in S&S 2008). I thought he looked familiar]. My favorite character is Lewis Mowbray. He's the handyman about the manor house and the first time he came on-screen, my siblings and I were all saying "Yep, he's a spy. He's definitely a spy" because he was so mysterious and he yelled at Angus, and other things like that. But he was quickly shown not to be a spy (or even a slightly bad guy) and I loved the little romance thingy with him and Ann.
The music...wow. James Newton Howard is a genius when it comes to composing film scores. He's easily my favorite movie composer. There was a nice melancholy feel to the music and, of course, Scottish themes. Now, as a warning, it might be a bit too much for young children (especially the second half) because Crusoe goes a bit wild for a time and gets pretty violent in a few scenes. There are also a few curse words scattered throughout. Other than that, I can't recommend this film highly enough. Amazing scenery/music/story/characters...and an intriguing ending.