Mylovely horse

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

THE WA­TER HORSE: LEG­END OF THE DEEP Di­rected by Jay Rus­sell. Star­ring Emily Wat­son, Alex Etel, Ben Chap­lin, David Mor­ris­sey, Brian Cox PG cert, gen re­lease, 111 min

AH, YES. Lot’s of brac­ing high­land air. Chil­dren in cor­duroys and thick-knit jumpers. Ger­man U-Boats lurk­ing just over the hori­zon. Now, this is what I call a proper fam­ily film. The Wa­ter Horse may re­mind many of ET, but in at­mos­phere and set­ting it leans to­wards clas­sic E Nes­bit sto­ries such as Five Chil­dren and It and The Rail­way Chil­dren. De­spite the fine com­puter-gen­er­ated ef­fects, one leaves the cin­ema ea­ger to grab a glass of Vimto and get to work on the Mec­cano set.

Young Alex Etel stars as the son of the house­keeper (Emily Wat­son) at a mano­rial pile on the shores of (pay at­ten­tion, now) Loch Ness. One day, the lad, whose fa­ther has been killed in the war, finds an oval ob­ject in the shal­lows and, af­ter lug­ging it back home, is sur­prised to see it split and re­lease a grey crea­ture a lit­tle like a lizard. Alex re­veals his se­cret to the grumpy new handy­man (Ben Chap­lin), but is care­ful to hide the intelligence from the nasty, posh of­fi­cer (David Mor­ris­sey) whose bat­tal­ion has just been posted to the es­tate.

Will Mum fall for dishy Ben or up­tight David? Will the Wa­ter Horse es­cape the ord­nance be­ing dis­charged across the Loch? Just who is the old man who tells the story to con­tem­po­rary tourists in a fram­ing se­quence? The an­swers are all ob­vi­ous, but the pic­ture abounds with such salty good will that few sen­si­ble chil­dren will prove re­sis­tant to its charms.

Mean­while, older brothers and sis­ters, who may have re­cently en­coun­tered a more ma­lign class of aquatic lizard, can view it as an an­ti­dote to Clover­field.

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