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Do Critics Like The Water Horse?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 27th, 2007

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What are the critics saying about the new cryptofiction film about the Loch Ness Monster?

Here are some snippets from a few reviews of The Water Horse. (Click on the hyperlinks to read the complete reviews.)

It is really difficult to tell if the reviewers are enjoying the movie. For most of us here, we’ll go see it anyway, but I thought some of these make for intriguing reading. Charles Cassady Jr. seems the most cryptid-aware, so I’ll begin with some quotations from his critique:

Film earns bonus cryptozoology points for also mentioning Loch Morar, a deep Scottish lake with its own beastie, Morag, who doesn’t command as many newspaper headlines as Nessie does….When Angus goes for a stirring ride on the back of his water-horse pal through the aquatic wonderland of the loch (which, amusingly, is as crystal-clear as the Caribbean), the movie really takes off. These are the wet dreams all your monster-watcher friends secretly harbor when they scan Huntington Beach and Huron hoping to glimpse our own Lake Erie monster. Just sooooo much of The Water Horse just feels like it’s going through the motions, the path already yeti-trodden by Harry and the Hendersons, The Iron Giant, E.T. or any other family feature that involves concealing a fantastical pet. Surely the youngest, non-cynical viewers who haven’t seen this premise beaten to death will enjoy The Water Horse, and if, like most 8 to 10 year olds, they’ve already suckled on Braveheart’s R-rated bloodbaths, they’ll get the lingering English-vs.-Scots bitterness that creeps into the dramatics. (The intruding limey characters are aristocratic officers who have finagled a cushy assignment that keeps them safe from real fighting that killed Angus’ daddy.)Charles Cassady Jr. | Cleveland Free Times

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At its best “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep” captures moments of “E.T.” But those moments are rare and most of the time it’s just the Scottish “Free Willy.” I do like the idea of the legend of Loch Ness being transformed into a children’s film. Just like the classic (kidding) “Harry and the Hendersons,” we get to see these creatures in a different light. “Water Horse” has two stars in Alex Etel and the young, puppy-like water horse. And that’s just enough to mildly recommend this family flick. Jeff Bayer | Beep Film

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Crusoe, who looks something like a cross between a dinosaur and a snail,…grows into the magnificent Loch Ness Monster and must be released to sea, its survival skills are put to the test, and the aggressive pursuit of the creature by townspeople and visiting soldiers alike stirs up “King Kong”-esque feelings of dread.Laura Kern | New York Times

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Parents, forget about those warbling mischievous chipmunks. If you want to take the kids on a delightful animal adventure that you will enjoy as much as they do, go see The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep….The fantastical creature, winningly created with seamless special effects, makes appealing sounds that sound like a blend between a baby cooing and an exuberant puppy. Animal lovers will find the water horse hard to resist. And scenes of Angus riding on the fully grown Crusoe’s back through the icy blue lake are dazzling.Claudia Puig | USA Today

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The Water Horse’s fluctuation between wholesome kiddie flick, complete with silly humor, and dark fantasy/coming-of-age drama ultimately proves too unwieldy for the filmmakers to handle, causing the film to sink under the weight of all its well-meaning but half-baked elements.Stax | IGN

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“The Water Horse” takes on the pounding pulse of a Scottish “Free Willy” in its later scenes, as Crusoe races for open water under peril of various kinds. Angus grows up by losing the greatest friend he ever had, a liberation for both boy and beast. It all plays out as you know it must, right down to Cox’s narrative revelation at the end, but that doesn’t diminish the sense of satisfaction this gratifying family entertainment delivers….Advisory: Several scenes involving gunfire and the water horse’s safety may be upsetting for very young viewers.Steven Winn | San Francisco Chronicle

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It has to be the most incongruous concept for a family film ever. Take the myth of the Loch Ness monster, marry it to a near note-for-note take on E.T., and pepper the entire thing with a World War II era British boy’s adventure tale. Add in the millennium-mandated CGI, some standard kid vid slapstick, and an ending that sees both Das Boot and Free Willy inadvertently referenced, and you’ve got Jay Russell’s incredibly surreal The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. While this cobbled together effort offers some intriguing ideas, things get messy quickly, and quite often.Bill Gibron | FilmCritic.com

Apparently, The Water Horse does not open in Scotland until next February 2008.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


7 Responses to “Do Critics Like The Water Horse?”

  1. Emonix responds:

    I actually love the movie. Watched it on Christmas day.

  2. Cryptid Hunt responds:

    I’m hoping to see it sometime.

  3. Larry responds:

    Then movie pretty good entertainment and had very good special effects. The monster looked completely believable. It makes you wonder about whether any film or video evidence of a cryptid will ever be satsifactory.

    SPOILERS BELOW

    The movie plays a little loose with the Nessie time line. It is set during WWII and has the “fake” Surgeon’s Photo being taken in about 1942 and not by Dr. Wilson or anyone associated with him.

    The script does provide a handy explanation for why there is only one monster at a time. I’ll leave it to a biologist and folklorists to explain how silly it is.

    Lastly, I am not 100% certain about the geography depicted in the movie. The script seems to avoid mentioning Loch Ness until 2/3 of the way in. Also, the movie requires a deep water-open connection from the loch to the sea to make its WWII subplot work.

    But, overall, it is a worthwhile movie; especially for a youngster.

  4. mitchigan responds:

    I also seen it on Christmas day. Very cool what they can do with computer generated animation these days, although I am still a fan of stop motion.

  5. DARHOP responds:

    I’m waiting for it to come out on DVD so I can rent it.

  6. Atticus responds:

    I also saw the movie on Christmas day. Even though the ending was a bit too Free Willy-ish for me, I enjoyed it immensely.

    The scene with the surgeons now famous photograph of Nessie and how they set it up was really funny.

  7. Redwolf responds:

    I took my three kids and some extras to this movie last week. We really enjoyed it. I agree about the “Free Willy” type ending, but over all, it was very good. The young man who played Angus did an exceptional job and the CGI was great (IMO of course, I am not an expert though). The movie inspired a lot of “Nessie” talk on the way home and my daughter has decided to have a Crypto Sea Creature B-Day party next month.



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