Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, The
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +2

Emily Watson, Alex Etel, Ben Chaplin, David Morrissey, Brian Cox. Fantasy Adventure. Written by Robert Nelson Jacobs. Directed by Jay Russell.

FILM SYNOPSIS: The Academy Award-winning producer and special-effects team behind The Lord of the Rings join with Revolution Studios, Walden Media (The Chronicles of Narnia) and Beacon Pictures to bring to the screen the magical motion picture The Water Horse. Rooted in legend, the story begins with a lonely boy finding an enchanted egg on a Scotland beach. The hatchling is a mythical sea serpent that quickly outgrows the bathtub, setting the stage for the superstition known as the Loch Ness Monster.

The boy and his monster become the best of friends. But uh-oh, the military has moved in. Theyre stationed there in order to keep Hitlers submarines out of the bay. Sadly, most of the soldiers arent aware that this huge seaside Cecil is no threat and they have a big gun. This could cause problems.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I was awed by the CG effects. This creature and its environment are absolutely life-like. Equal to the special effects are the engrossing fantasy, the professionalism of those before and behind the camera, and the locales, which are breathtakingly photographed. It is a film that will captivate older kids (though it might spook their younger siblings). Entertaining, clean and imaginative, it may be the best boys film of the year. That said, there is a small problem.

Nowadays, we are so accustomed to violent imagery in movies that it has become almost pass for reviewers to remark on such content. Indeed, most dont. But while this film opens with a cute baby sea dragon befriended by a friendless child, the storyline becomes intense as the family deals with the death of the father and the destructive nature of the soldiers who have stationed themselves in the familys home. Once again, we have a movie that pictures the military in a bad light. Perhaps more subtle than, say, In The Valley of Elah, but the film has a distinct message aimed at children war is bad and so are most soldiers. This takes place during WWII, in Europe, where entire countries were traumatized by Hitlers invading armies. It is doubtful that the lead female, a Scottish woman, would have made negative remarks concerning protecting servicemen. Nor would such an attitude have been slipped into a movie at that time.

But aside from its vague anti-military slant and the intensity of the later action sequences, the film contains several positive themes. And in defense of the filmmakers, the foolish army captain eventually does the right thing.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

Crude Language: I caught none.
Obscene Language: Three or four minor expletives (damns, hells).
Profanity: I caught none.
Violence: The military mistake the sea dragon as a threat and begin shooting at it. Several later scenes become intense as the military chase the beast, the boy and his family trying to protect it. A soldier hits a man. A dog chases the baby dragon. There are a couple of jolting scenes that may be unsettling for little ones.
Sexual Intercourse: A housekeeper and a soldier are seen kissing by the kids.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Wine with dinner in one scene. Townsmen drink in a pub. A soldier and a maid are drinkers. A couple of characters smoke.
Other: None
Running Time: 111 minutes
Intended Audience: Families, Kids 10 and Older

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