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Movie Review: The Water Horse

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep
Directed by Jay Russell
Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs from the book by Dick King-Smith

I’ve always loved the speculation over the Loch Ness Monster, or Bigfoot, or the Jersey Devil.  Mythical beasts are fun to hear tales about, even if in the back of your mind you know that people who have claimed to witness such things probably didn’t.  What makes them fun is the thought that it might be true; it allows the imagination to take over.

In The Water Horse, the tale begins like so many others, as it is related by an old man (Brian Cox of course) to a couple of tourists at Loch Ness: A boy, Angus MacMurrow (Alex Etel) finds what he believes to be a rock on the beach and takes it home.  It’s no rock, though, it’s an egg that soon hatches, and a little otherworldly creature starts running around.

Angus wants to keep the small dragon-like beast a secret from mom Anne (Emily Watson), and is able to do so with help from sister Kirstie (Priyanka Xi) and loyal handyman Lewis Mobray (Ben Chaplin).  But as the beast gets bigger, Angus is going to have to leave it in Loch Ness.

This is bad news, as it’s WWII and the military has begun to march into the area and want to defend the beaches from attack, and this means lots of high-tech weapons are going to be aimed for the waters.  Captain Hamilton (David Morrissey) brings his troops into the MacMurrow home to stay until they are no longer needed.  Hamilton and Mobray form a potential love triangle with Anne.

Of course, there’s no doubt that the creature won’t be able to hide for very long, other people will see it, and the military will go way overboard in thinking the monster represents a threat. 

Yeah, when we heard stories of the Loch Ness Monster, it was always the part about the military that we found the most interesting, right?  Oh wait, you mean you’ve never heard anything about the military in Loch Ness Monster stories?  You just heard about fishermen and visitors to the beach discussing their sightings, probably.  In fact, the trailer was wise not to include anything about a military presence, because we want to see the creation of a myth, not some conflict that seems tacked on for “added conflict.”

Remember in Braveheart when the people of Scotland are talking about William Wallace, and the tale grows taller as it gets passed along?  This is what The Water Horse needed.  It needed to stay mystical and magical, about people thinking they’ve seen it and telling the tale, making it more fantastic every time.  Unfortunately there’s a large chunk of subtext, and just plain text, about war in it.  Loads of fun, huh?

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